The Kosi river in north Bihar plains, eastern India presents a challenge in terms of long and recurring flood hazard. Despite a long history of flood control management in the basin for more than 5 decades, the river continues to bring a lot of misery through extensive flooding. This paper revisits the flooding problem in the Kosi river basin and presents an in-depth analysis of flood hydrology. We integrate the hydrological analysis with a GIS-based flood risk mapping in parts of the basin. Typical hydrological characteristics of the Kosi river include very high discharge variability, and high sediment flux from an uplifting hinterland. Annual peak discharges often exceed the mean annual flood and the low-lying tracts of the alluvial plains are extensively inundated year after year. Our flood risk analysis follows a multi-parametric approach using Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) and integrates geomorphological, land cover, topographic and social (population density) parameters to propose a Flood Risk Index (FRI). The flood risk map is validated with long-term inundation maps and offers a cost-effective solution for planning mitigation measures in flood-prone areas.