In the present study, adsorption of lead (II) ions from aqueous solution by alluvial soil of Bhagirathi River was investigated under batch mode. The influence of solution pH, sorbent dose, initial lead (II) concentration, contact time, stirring rate and temperature on the removal process were investigated. The lead adsorption was favored with maximum adsorption at pH 6.0. Sorption equilibrium time was observed in 60 min. The equilibrium adsorption data were analyzed by the Freundlich, Langmuir, Dubinin–Radushkevich and Temkin adsorption isotherm models. The kinetics of lead (II) ion was discussed by pseudo first-order, pseudo second-order, intra-particle diffusion, and surface mass transfer models. It was shown that the adsorption of lead ions could be described by the pseudo second-order kinetic model. The activation energy of the adsorption process (E a) was found to be −38.33 kJ mol−1 using the Arrhenius equation, indicating exothermic nature of lead adsorption onto alluvial soil. Thermodynamic parameters, such as Gibbs free energy (∆G 0), the enthalpy (∆H 0), and the entropy change of sorption (∆S 0) have also been evaluated and it has been found that the adsorption process was spontaneous, feasible, and exothermic in nature. The results indicated that alluvial soil of Bhagirathi River can be used as an effective and low cost adsorbent to remove lead ions from aqueous solutions.