The major rivers of north-west (Punjab, Sindh, Rajasthan & Gujrat) were: Saraswati, Sindhu (Indus), Shatadru (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Vitasa (Jhelum), Parushni (Ravi), Asikni (Chenab), Yamuna, Drishadwati and Lavanavati. All rivers have changed their courses since Vedic times. Of these, three rivers: Saraswati, Drishadwati and Lavanavati no longer exist.
In Vedic times: the rivers Beas, Jhelum, Ravi & Chenab joined Sindhu, to form one channel from Himalayas to the Arabian Sea.
Saraswati and her tributary rivers: Yamuna, Sutlej, Drishadvati and Lavanavati formed the other channel from Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. Saraswati was a mighty river with three sources in the Himalayas. Her bed was as vast as 10 km in some places. The river course was dotted with lakes and ponds.
In the very early days, Saraswati met the Arabian Sea at the Rann of Kachh. After the level of Rann increased, she crossed the Rann to join Arabian Sea at the gulf of Khambat.
Course of Saraswati
Here is the proposed course of the northwestern rivers during Vedic times:
Saraswati: The Goddess of Knowledge
The vedic people had realised the importance of water, and called it life. Obviously the water providing pure streams were no less than a mother, who nurtured life on its banks.
It was on the banks of Saraswati, that the Vedic ashrams thrived. It was on the waters of Saraswati that the vedic culture grew. She was thus called the goddess of knowledge. (Remember goddess Saraswati is always portrayed with water in background, blooming lotus, white swans, and bathing elephants.)
The Rg Veda praises the river as:
ambitambe naditambe devitambe saraswati
The best of mothers, best of rivers, best of godesses, Oh Saraswati!
80% of the sites have been found on the dry banks of river Saraswati, and hence the name Saraswati-Sindhu.
It is suggested that the urbanised and trade oriented Saraswati-Sindhu civilization (3100-1900 BC) suceeded the earlier Vedic civilisation. They built their civilization on the Vedic knowledge. How else could they build towns, navigate the seas, achieve large scale production, have quality standards, and have commercial relations with the Mesopotomia & Egypt cultures? It was the Vedic study that provided them the required knowledge of geometry, algebra, geography, ship building, and navigation.
The Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization represents itself in, about 300 cities (plus so many supporting towns & villages). Huge cities had populations of 100,000. They had two or three storied houses built with bricks of uniform size. The cities had underground sewage system. Networked with grid of roads. Cities had giant reservoirs for water. (Today, only one or two Indian cities can boast to be like those built 5,000 years ago!)