We study the aggradation and incision of the Alaknanda River Valley during the late Pleistocene and Holocene. The morphostratigraphy in the river valley at Deoprayag shows the active riverbed, a cut terrace, and a fill terrace. The sedimentary fabric of the fill terrace comprises four lithofacies representing 1) riverbed accretion, 2) locally derived debris fan, 3) the deposits of waning floods and 4) palaeoflood records. The sedimentation style, coupled with geochemical analysis and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating, indicate that this terrace formed in a drier climate and the river valley aggraded in two phases during 21–18 ka and 13–9 ka. During these periods, sediment supply was relatively higher. Incision began after 10 ka in response to a strengthened monsoon and aided by increase of the tectonic gradient. The cut terrace formed at ~ 5 ka during a phase of stable climate and tectonic quiescence. The palaeoflood records suggest wetter climate 200–300 yr ago when the floods originated in the upper catchment of the Higher Himalaya and in the relatively drier climate ~ 1.2 ka when locally derived sediments from the Lesser Himalaya dominated flood deposits. Maximum and minimum limits of bedrock incision rate at Deoprayag are 2.3 mm/a and 1.4 mm/a.