Mahanadi River and its Tributaries

The 858 Kilometers long Mahanadi river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. It gets formed by numerous mountain streams and the farthest headstream is located in hills of the Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh. These hills are extensions of the Eastern Ghats and are a source of many other streams which then go on to join the Mahanadi. The river first flows in north and drains Raipur. After Bilaspur, it is joined by its major tributary river Seonath.

After that the river flows eastward and joined by Jonk, Hasdeo rivers and reaches Odisha. Near Sambalpur of Odisha, the largest dam of the world Hirakud Dam blocks its water, spread between Lamdungri and Chandili Dunguri hills. After reaching Dholpur in Odisha, the rivers rolls towards the Eastern Ghats and passes the Satkosia Gorge. After crossing the Gorge, it meets the plains of Odisha and reaches Cuttak. Before entering Cuttack city, it gives off a large distributary called the Kathjori. Cuttack is located between these two channels. The Kathjori then throws off many streams like the Kuakhai, Devi and Surua  and becomes Jotdar River, which fall into the Bay of Bengal after entering Puri district. The main stream of Mahandi gets divided into several distributaries such as Paika, Birupa, Chitartala, Genguti and Nun. These all distributares form the Mahandi Delta which is one of the largest deltas in India. The Mahandi river empties into Bay of Bengal via several channels near Paradeep at False Point, Jagatsinghpur.

Importance of  Mahanadi River

  • Mahanadi valley is best known for its fertile soil and flourishing agriculture. Before the Hirakud dam was built, the river carried a huge amount of silt and its delta had one of the highest yield per acre in the whole of India. At present, agriculture primarily depends on a network of canals that arise from the river. Rice, oilseeds and sugarcane are the principal crops here.
  • The river was notorious for devastating floods, but the construction of Hirakud Dam has altered the situation.

Tributaries of Mahanadi

The following flowchart shows the flow of Mahanadi from Source to Sea.

The major tributaries of Mahanadi are Seonath, Jonk, Hasdo, Mand, Ib, Ong, Tel etc.

  • Seonath River: The Seonath River is the longest tributary of Mahanadi. It rises in an undulating region with numerous small groups of hills at Kotgal and flows 383 kilometers to join Mahanadi at its left bank at Khargand.
  • Tributaries of Seonath are Kharahara, Tandula, Kharun, Surhi, Agar, Arpa rivers. The total drainage area of Seonath is 22% of the total drainage area of Mahanadi Basin.
    • Jonk River: Jonk River originates from the Khariar Hills of Kalahandi district of Odisha at an elevation of 762 meters. It flows 196 kilometers to join the Mahanadi on ints right at Sheorinarayan.
  • Hasdo River: It rises in the Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh and traverses 333 kilometers to meet Mahanadi at Mahuadih.
  • Gej River is a principle tributary of Hasdo River
  • Mand River: Mand River originates at an elevation of 686 meters in Sarguja district of Odisha and flows 241 kilometers to meet Mahanadi at Chandarpur.
  • Ib River : Ib originates in Pandrapat of the Raigarh distriuct of Chhattishgarh and flows 251 kilometers to fall into Hirakud Dam. Its a rainfed river.
  • Ong River: It rises at an elevation of 457 meters on a hill in the northern outskirts of hills located on the course of Jonk River and flows 204 kilometers to meet Mahandi at Sonepur.
  • Tel River: Tel river originates in plain in the Koraput of Odisha. It traverses 296 kilometers to meet Mahanadi at Sonepur.

Hirakud Dam on Mahanadi River

  • Built across Mahanadi River, about 15 km from Sambalpur in Odisha.
  • Built in 1957, the dam is one of the world’s longest earthen dam.
  • Behind the dam extends a lake, Hirakud Reservoir, 55 km long.
  • Initially proposed Sir M. Visveswararya in 1937, Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission took up the work, and in 1946, Sir Howthrone Lewis, then the Governor of Orissa, laid the foundation stone of the Hirakud Dam.
  • There are two observation towers on the dam one at each side. One is “Gandhi Minar” and the other one is “Nehru Minar”. Both the observation towers present breathtaking views of the lake.
  • Helps control floods in the Mahanadi delta and irrigates 75,000 square kilometres of land. Hydroelectricity is also generated.
  • Cattle Island is located in one of the extreme points of Hirakud Reservoir, a natural wonder. Completely inhabited by wild cattle, with out any trace of humans.
  • Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary is located here.

Brahmani River

Brahmani River is NOT a tributary of Mahanadi. It’s a seasonal river that flows in Odisha. It is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers near Raurkela, and flows through the districts of Sundargarh, Kendujhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack and Jajapur. Together with the rivers Mahanadi and Baitarani, it forms a large delta before entering into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra. Both headstreams of Brahmani river viz. Sankh and South Koel originate in Choota Nagpur Plateau.

  • Sankh has its origins near the Jharkhand-Chhatisgarh border, near Netarhat Plateau.
  • South Koel too arises in Jharkhand, near Lohardaga, on the other side of a watershed that also gives rise to the Damodar River.

Brahmani river is 480 kilometers long and is the second longest river in Orissa after the Mahanadi.

Tributaries of Brahmani River
  • Baitarni River: Baitarani River is another one of six major rivers of Odisha, which earn the name of coastal plains of Odisha as “Hexadeltaic region”. The river originates in Guptaganga hills in Gonasika of Keonjhar district in Odisha and flows to make a natural boundary between Odisha and Jharkhand. It travels a distance of 360 km to drain into the Bay of Bengal after joining of the Brahmani at Dhamra mouth near Chandabali.

Last Updated: April 3, 2016

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