Mahanadi River

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Mahanadi River
Map of Rivers in India

Mahanadi (Hindi: महानदी, Odia: ମହାନଦୀ) is a major river in East Central India. The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Variants of name

Origin

It rises from a place Sihawa, 6 kms from Farsiya village 442 metres above sea level south of Nagri town in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh.[1][2]

Course

For the first 80 kms of its course, the Mahanadi flows in a northerly direction and drains the Raipur district and touches eastern portions of Raipur city.


After being joined by the Seonath River, the river flows in an easterly direction through the remaining part of its journey. It is joined by the Jonk River and Hasdeo Rivers here before entering into Odisha after covering about half of its total length.

Near the city of Sambalpur, it is dammed by the largest earthen dam in the world, the Hirakud Dam. A composite structure of earth, concrete and masonry, the dam measures 24 kms including the Dykes. It spans two hills; the Lamdungri on the left and the Chandili Dunguri on the right. It also forms the biggest artificial lake in Asia, with a reservoir holding 743 square kms at full capacity, with a shoreline of over 640 kms.

After the formation of Chhattisgarh State, the major portion of Mahanadi basin now lies in Chhattisgarh. Presently, only 154 square kms basin area of Hasdeo River in Anuppur District lies in Madhya Pradesh.

Before the construction of the dam in 1953, the Mahanadi was about a mile wide at Sambalpur and carried massive amounts of silt, especially during the monsoon. Today, it is a rather tame river after the construction of the dam and is joined by the Ib, Ong, Tel and other minor streams. It then skirts the boundaries of the Baudh district and forces a tortuous way between ridges and ledges in a series of rapids until it reaches Dholpur, Odisha. The rapids end here and the river rolls towards the Eastern Ghats, forcing its way through them via the 64 kms long Satkosia Gorge. The Satakosia Gorge ends at Badamul of Nayagarh. Dense forests cover the hills flanking the river here. The river enters the Odisha plains at Naraj, about 11 kms from Cuttack, where it pours down between two hills that are a mile apart. A barrage has been constructed here to regulate the river's flow into Cuttack.

The river traverses Cuttack district in an east-west direction. Just before entering Cuttack, it gives off a large distributary called the Kathjori. The city of Cuttack stands on the spit separating the two channels. The Kathjori then throws off many streams like the Kuakhai, Devi and Surua which fall into the Bay of Bengal after entering Puri district. The Kathjori itself falls into the sea as the Jotdar.

Other distributaries of Mahanadi include the Paika, Birupa, Chitroptala river, Genguti and Lun. The Birupa then goes on to join the Brahmani River at Krushnanagar and enters the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra. The Mahanadi proper enters the sea via several channels near Paradeep at False Point, Jagatsinghpur. The combined Delta of the Mahanadi's numerous distributaries and the Brahmani is one of the largest in India.

It drains an area of around 141,600 square kms and has a total course of 858 kms[3].

Tributaries

Places of historical importance

चित्रोत्पला

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[4] ने लेख किया है ...चित्रोत्पला (उड़ीसा) (AS, p.337): कोणार्क के निकट बहने वाली महानदी का ही नाम चित्रोत्पला है। कहा जाता है कि कोणार्क के निकट मंदिर के निर्माण के समय चिनाव नदी और चित्रोत्पला नदियों का प्रवाह रोकना पड़ा था। चित्रोत्पला का उल्लेख महाभारत भीष्म पर्व महाभारत 9,34 में भी है--'चित्रोत्पला चित्ररथां मंजुलां वाहिनी तथा, मंदाकिनी वैतरणीं कोषां चापि महानदीम्'।

In Indian epics

Skanda Purana: Lord Vishnu said -- 'Purushottam Kshetra is situated at the sea-shore, to the south of river Mahanadi. This sacrosanct place of mine does not get affected by deluge. I dwell at this holiest place as 'Lord Purushottam'. There is a holy pond called Rohin in the vicinity. Anybody who takes a holy dip in that pond gets absolved of all his sins. O Brahma! You must pay a visit to Purushottam kshetra where spending a day bestows virtues greater than all the austerities combined together.'

In Ramayana:

Ramayana in Kishkindha Kanda Sarga 41 describes The Empire of Holy Vanaras to the South: Sugreeva sends Vanaras in search of Sita to southward which troop includes Hanuman, Jambavanta, Nila and others and Angada is its leader. Sugreeva gives a vivid picture of the southern side of Jambudvipa. Mahanadi is mentioned in Ramayana (IV.41.9).

8,9,10. "Search the thousand crested Vindhya mountains abounding with numerous tress and climbers, then the delightful Narmada river coursing a little southerly to that range, which is adored by great snakes, along with wonderful River Godavari, as well as River Krishnaveni and Maha Nadi, and then the greatly auspicious Varada River which is an adoration to great snakes. And the territories of Mekhala, Utkala, the cities of Dasharna, kingdoms of Abravanti, Avanti, and Vidarbha, also thus the charming kingdom of Mahishaka, are to be searched thoroughly. [4-41-10]"

सहस्र शिरसम् विंध्यम् नाना द्रुम लता आयुतम् ।
नर्मदाम् च नदीम् रम्याम् महोरग निषेविताम् ॥४-४१-८॥
ततो गोदावरीम् रम्याम् कृष्णावेणीम् महानदीम्
वरदाम् च महाभागाम् महोरग निषेविताम् ।
मेखलान् उत्कलाम् चैव दशार्ण नगराणि अपि ॥४-४१-९॥
अब्रवंतीम् अवंतीम् च सर्वम् एव अनुपश्यत ।
विदर्भान् ऋष्टिकान् चैव रम्यान् माहिषकान् अपि ॥४-४१-१०॥

In Mahabharata

Mahanadi (महानदी) (River) in Mahabharata (VI.10.13), (VI.10.14), (VI.10.17), (VI.10.33),

Chitropala (चित्रॊपला) (River) in Mahabharata (VI.10.32)


Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 Describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Rivers are mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.13,14).

नदीः पिबन्ति बहुला गङ्गां सिन्धुं सरस्वतीम
गॊदावरीं नर्मदांबाहुदांमहानदीम Mahabharata (VI.10.13)
शतद्रुं चन्द्रभागांयमुनांमहानदीम
दृषद्वतीं विपाशांविपापां सदूलवालुकाम Mahabharata (VI.10.14)

Chitropala (चित्रॊपला) (River) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.32).[5]....O Bharata; and Chitropala. Chitraratha, and Manjula, and Vahini; and Mandakini, and Vaitarani, and Kosa, and Mahanadi; ....

References

  1. Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 16, page 431
  2. Hydrology and Water Resources of India By Sharad K. Jain, Pushpendra K. Agarwal, Vijay P. Singh
  3. Mahanadi River (river, India)- Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.337
  5. बरह्माणीं च महागौरीं दुर्गाम अपि च भारत, चित्रॊपलां चित्रबर्हां मज्जुं मकरवाहिनीम (VI.10.32)

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