With a length of 1465 Kilometers, Godavari is India’s second largest river that runs within the country and also the longest river in South India. It originates near Trimbak in Nashik District of Maharashtra state and flows east across the Deccan Plateau into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
The river is also known as Dakshin Ganga and Gautami. The Manjra and Indravati rivers are its major tributaries.
The Godavari is sacred river and there are several places of pilgrimage on its banks. Trimbakeshwar and Nasik are major pilgrimage sites where one of the four Sinhastha Kumbh Mela takes place.
Every twelve years, Pushkaram, a major bathing festival, is held on the banks of the Godavari. The next Pushkaram festival is scheduled to be held in 2015.
Course of Godavari River
The river originates from Trimbak and then flows in the east across the Deccan Plateau traversing through the Trimbakeshwar, Nashik, Kopargaon, Paithan, Nanded, Rajahmundry, Adilabad and Bhadrachalam.
Just after Rajahmundry, the river splits into two streams that widen into a large river delta, which provides an extensive navigable irrigation. In Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh, there is a multipurpose project on the Godavari, which is called the Sriramsagar Project. Godavari empties into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
- A barrage was built on the river at Dowleswaram by Sir Arthur Cotton in 1852. As it was damaged in 1987 floods, it was rebuilt as a barrage and roadway during 1987 and named after him. The roadway connects Dowleswaram in East Godavari and Vijjeswaram in West Godavari.
- There is also a big dam built just after the source of the river at Trimbakeshwar. The dam is in the town of Gangapur, which literally means a town on a river. The dam provides drinking water to the residents of Nashik and also supplies water to the thermal power station situated downstream at Eklahara, which provides power to the town.
- There is another multipurpose project on the Godavari River named Sriram Sagar Project on the borders of Adilabad and Nizamabad District. It is in the town of Pochampad, 60 km away from Nizamabad. It irrigates 4 districts of Northern Telangana Region of Andhra Pradesh and supplies power.
- The Jayakwadi dam near Paithan is one of the largest earthen dam in India. This dam was built to address the problem of drought in Marathwada region and problem of flood along the bank of river. Two ‘left’ and ‘right’ canals provide the irrigation to fertile land up to Nanded district. This dam has major contribution in industrial development of Aurangabad Maharashtra.
- Havelock bridge is on Godavari River. It was constructed under the supervision of F.T. Granville Walton who had constructed the Dufferin Bridge over the Ganges, and Granville Mills, British engineers. Spanning over 3 km in length, it linked the East Godavari and West Godavari districts. The brige has been a vital link enabling trains to run between Chennai and Howrah. Trains continued to ply over the bridge for a century until 1997, when train services over the bridge were suspended after the construction of 2 additional bridges.
- The Coringa mangrove forests in the Godavari delta are the second largest mangrove formation in the country. Part of this has been declared as the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, renowned for its reptiles. They also provide an important habitat to a wide variety of fish and crustaceans. These forests also act as barriers against cyclones, tropical storms and tidal waves thus protecting the nearby villages.
- The Krishna Godavari basin is one of the main nesting sites of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle.
Important Places on the Bank of River Godavari
- Trimbakeshwar: The source of the Godavari – Trimbakeshwar is one of the holy places in the country. It is located about 40 km from Nashik. Trimbakeshwar is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is believed that there is no sacred place like Trimbakeshwar, no river like Godavari and no mountain like Bhrahmagiri.
- Nashik: Nashik is the first major city on the banks of the Godavari after Trimbakeshwar. Nashik is located about 185 km from Mumbai. It is an important religious center and attracts thousands of pilgrims every year from different parts of the country.
- Paithan: Famous for its Paithani sarees, Paithan is located on the banks of the Godavari in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. It is 56 km south of Aurangabad, the ancient capital city of the Satvahanas. Paithan is associated with great saint Eknath. His ‘samadhi’ is located here. The Eknath Shrine comes alive during ‘Paithan Yatra’, also known as Nath Shashti, when devotees from Maharashtra and neighbouring states come to pay their respects to the saint.
- Nanded: Nanded is famous for the Sikh gurudwara – Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib. A town of great antiquity, Naded was earlier known as ‘Nandigram’. Gurudwara Shri Hazur Sahib is the main landmark in Nanded. It is one of the four high seats of authority of the Sikhs. This is the place where Shri Guru Gobind Singhji breathed his last. The gurudwara was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
- Bhadrachalam: Bhadrachalam is situated on the banks of the Godavari and is 161 km from Rajahmundry and 200 km from Vijayawada. Bhadrachalam is regarded to be one of the holiest shrines in South India.
Tributaries of Godavari
- Indravati River: Indravati River rises in the Eastern Ghats in Kalahandi Orissa, and flows west to join the Godavari, forming the boundary between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh states at places. The river flows for a length of 535 km with a drainage area of 41,665 sq.km.The Indravati is sometimes known as the “lifeline” of the Bastar District, one of the most green districts in India.
- Pranahita River: Pranhita River flows on the border of Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra and Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh. It forms with the confluence of two rivers called Wardha and Wainganga.The Painganga River joins Vainganga near Aheri. The river then flows up to Sironcha before it empties into the Godavari River,near Sironcha in Maharashtra. The River course is mainly through the dense forests which are rich in Sagwan (timber).