|State||Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha|
|Region||West India and South India|
|• location||Brahmagiri Mountain, Trimbakeshwar, Nashik, Maharashtra, India|
|• coordinates||19°55′48″N 73°31′39″E / 19.93000°N 73.52750°E|
|• elevation||920 m (3,020 ft)|
|Mouth||Bay of Bengal|
|Antarvedi, Andhra Pradesh, India|
|17°0′N 81°48′E / 17.000°N 81.800°ECoordinates: 17°0′N 81°48′E / 17.000°N 81.800°E|
|0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||1,465 km (910 mi)|
|Basin size||312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi)|
|• average||3,505 m3/s (123,800 cu ft/s)|
|• location||Polavaram (1901–1979)|
|• average||3,061.18 m3/s (108,105 cu ft/s)|
|• minimum||7 m3/s (250 cu ft/s)|
|• maximum||34,606 m3/s (1,222,100 cu ft/s)|
|• left||Banganga, Kadva, Shivana, Purna, Kadam, Pranahita, Indravati, Taliperu, Sabari|
|• right||Nasardi, Pravara, Sindphana, Manjira, Manair, Kinnerasani|
The Godavari (IAST: Godāvarī [ɡod̪aːʋəɾiː]) is India's second longest river after the Ganga river and drains into the third largest basin in India, covering about 10% of India's total geographical area. Its source is in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik, Maharashtra. It flows east for 1,465 kilometres (910 mi), draining the states of Maharashtra (48.6%), Telangana (18.8%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%) and Odisha (5.7%). The river ultimately empties into the Bay of Bengal through an extensive network of tributaries. Measuring up to 312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi), it forms one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent, with only the Ganga and Indus rivers having a larger drainage basin. In terms of length, catchment area and discharge, the Godavari is the largest in peninsular India, and had been dubbed as the Dakshina Ganga (Ganges of the South).
The river has been revered in Hindu scriptures for many millennia and continues to harbour and nourish a rich cultural heritage. In the past few decades, the river has been barricaded by several barrages and dams, keeping a head of water (depth) which lowers evaporation. Its broad river delta houses 729 persons/km2 – nearly twice the Indian average population density and has a substantial risk of flooding, which in lower parts would be exacerbated if the global sea level were to rise.
The Godavari originates in the Western Ghats of central India near Nashik in Maharashtra, 80 km (50 mi) from the Arabian Sea. It flows for 1,465 km (910 mi), first eastwards across the Deccan Plateau then turns southeast, entering the West Godavari district and East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, until it splits into two distributaries that widen into a large river delta at Dowleswaram Barrage in Rajahmundry and then flows into the Bay of Bengal.
The Godavari River has a coverage area of 312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi), which is nearly one-tenth of the area of India and is equivalent to the area of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland put together. The river basin is considered to be divided into 3 sections:
These put together account for 24.2% of the total basin area. The rivers annual average water inflows are nearly 110 billion cubic metres. Nearly 50% of the water availability is being harnessed. The water allocation from the river among the riparian states are governed by the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal. The river has highest flood flows in India and experienced recorded flood of 3.6 million cusecs in the year 1986 and annual flood of 1.0 million cusecs is normal.
In Maharashtra state where it takes origin, the river has an extensive course, the upper basin (origin to its confluence with Manjira) of which lies entirely within the state, cumulatively draining an area as large as 152,199 km2 (58,764 sq mi) – about half the area of Maharashtra. Within Nashik district, the river assumes a north-easterly course until it flows into the Gangapur Reservoir created by a dam of the same name. The reservoir along with the Kashypi Dam provides potable water to Nashik, one of the largest cities located on its banks. The river as it emerges through the dam, some 8 km (5.0 mi) upstream from Nashik, flows on a rocky bed undulated by a series of chasms and rocky ledges, resulting in the formation of two significant waterfalls – the Gangapur and the Someshwar waterfalls. The latter, located at Someshwar is more popularly known as the Dudhsagar Waterfall. About 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Gangapur the river passes the town of Nashik where it collects its effluents in the form of the river Nasardi on its right bank.
About 0.5 km (0.31 mi) south of Nashik, the river bends sharply to the east, washing the base of a high cliff formerly the site of a Mughal fort, but which is now being eroded away by the action of floods. About 25 km (16 mi) below Nashik is the confluence of the Godavari and one of its tributaries, the Darna. The stream occupies, for nine months in the year, a small space in a wide and gravelly bed, the greyish banks being 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) high, topped with a deep layer of black soil. A few kilometres after its meeting with the Darna, the Godavari swerves to the north-east, before the Banganga, from the north-west, meets it on the left. The course of the main stream then tends more decidedly south. At Nandur-Madhmeshwar, the Kadva, a second large affluent, brings considerable increase to the waters of the Godavari. The river begins its southeasterly course characteristic of rivers of the Deccan Plateau. The river exits the Niphad Taluka of Nashik and enters the Kopargaon taluka, Ahmednagar District. Within Ahmednagar District the river quickly completes its short course, flowing alongside the town of Kopargaon and reaching Puntamba. Beyond this, the river serves as a natural boundary between the following districts:
The river beyond, near the village Sonpeth, flows into Parbhani. In Parbhani district, the river flows through Gangakhed taluka. As mentioned above, the Godavari is also called Dakshinganga so the city is called as Gangakhed (meaning a village on the bank of Ganga). As per Hindu rituals this place is considered quite important for after death peace to flow ashes into the river.
Its course is relatively non-significant except for receiving two smaller streams – Indrayani and Masuli – merging at its left and right banks, respectively. Within the last taluka of the district Parbhani, Purna, the river drains a major tributary of the same name: Purna.
It then exits into the neighbouring district of Nanded where 10 km (6.2 mi) before reaching the town Nanded, it is impounded by the Vishnupuri Dam and thus with it, bringing Asia's largest lift irrigation projects to life. A little downstream from Nanded, the river receives Asna, a small stream, on its left bank. It then runs into the controversial Babli project soon ends its course within Maharashtra, albeit temporarily, at its merger with a major tributary – Manjira.
The river after flowing into Telangana, re-emerges to run as a state boundary separating the Mancherial, Telangana from Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. At the state border, it runs between Sironcha and Somnoor Sangam receiving one tributary at each of those nodal points – the Pranhita and subsequently the Indravati.
Godavari enters into Telangana in Nizamabad district at Kandakurthy where Manjira, Haridra rivers joins Godavari and forms Triveni Sangamam. The river flows along the border between Nirmal and Mancherial districts in the north and Nizamabad, Jagtial, Peddapalli districts to its south. About 12 km (7.5 mi) after entering Telangana it merges with the back waters of the Sriram Sagar Dam. The river after emerging through the dam gates, enjoys a wide river bed, often splitting to encase sandy islands. The river receives a minor but significant tributary Kadam river. It then emerges at its eastern side to act as a state border with Maharashtra only to later enter into Bhadradri Kothagudem district. In this district, the river flows through an important Hindu pilgrimage town – Bhadrachalam.
The river further swells after receiving a minor tributary Kinnerasani River and exits into Andhra Pradesh.
Within the state of Andhra Pradesh, the river flows through hilly terrain of the Eastern Ghats known as the Papi hills which explains the narrowing of its bed as it flows through a gorge for a few km, only to re-widen at Polavaram. The deepest bed level of Godavari River, located 36 km upstream of Polavaram dam, is at 45 meters below the sea level. Before crossing the Papi hills, it receives its last major tributary Sabari River on its left bank. The river upon reaching the plains begins to widen out until it reaches Rajahmundry. Arma Konda (1,680 m (5,510 ft)) is the highest peak in the Godavari river basin as well as in Eastern Ghats.
Dowleswaram Barrage was constructed across the river in Rajahmundry. At Rajahmundry, the Godavari splits into two large branches which are called Gautami (Gautami Godavari) and Vasishta Godavari and five smaller branches. Similarly, the Vasishta splits into two branches named Vasishta and Vainateya. These four branches which join the Bay of Bengal at different places, form a delta of length 170 km (110 mi) along the coast of the Bay of Bengal and is called the Konaseema region. This delta along with the delta of the Krishna River is called the Rice Granary of South India.
The Gautami which is the largest branch of the whole passes along Yanam of Union territory of Puducherry and empties itself into sea at Point Godavery. In fact, Yanam is bounded on south by Gautami branch and the Coringa River originates at Yanam which merges into the sea near Coringa village in Andhra Pradesh.
The major tributaries of the river can be classified as the left bank tributaries which include the Purna, Pranhita, Indravati, and Sabari River covering nearly 59.7% of the total catchment area of the basin and the right bank tributaries Pravara, Manjira, and Manair together contributing 16.1% of the basin.
The Pranhita River is the largest tributary of the Godavari River, covering about 34% of its drainage basin. Though the river proper flows only for 113 km (70 mi), by virtue of its extensive tributaries Wardha, Wainganga, Penganga, the sub-basin drains all of Vidharba region as well as the southern slopes of the Satpura Ranges. Indravati is the 2nd largest tributary, known as the "lifeline" of the Kalahandi, Nabarangapur of Odisha and Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. Due to their enormous sub-basins both Indravati and Pranhita are considered rivers in their own right. Manjira is the longest tributary and holds the Nizam Sagar reservoir. Purna is a prime river in the water scarce Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
|Tributary||Bank||Confluence location||Confluence elevation||Length||Sub-basin area|
|Pravara||Right||Pravara Sangam, Nevasa, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra||463 m
(2,524 sq mi)
|Purna||Left||Jambulbet, Parbhani, Marathwada, Maharashtra||358 m
(6,015 sq mi)
|Manjira||Right||Kandakurthi, Renjal, Nizamabad, Telangana||332 m
(11,909 sq mi)
|Manair||Right||Arenda, Manthani, Peddapalli, Telangana||115 m
(5,060 sq mi)
|Pranhita||Left||Kaleshwaram, Mahadevpur, Jayashankar Bhupalpally, Telangana||99 m
(42,115 sq mi)
|Indravati||Left||Somnoor Sangam, Sironcha, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra||82 m
(16,083 sq mi)
|Sabari||Left||Kunawaram, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh||25 m
(7,887 sq mi)
Other than these seven principal tributaries, it has many smaller but significant ones draining into it. Indravati river floodwaters overflow into the Jouranala which is part of Sabari basin. A barrage at 19°7′19″N 82°14′9″E / 19.12194°N 82.23583°E is constructed across the Indravati river to divert Indravati water in to Sabari river for enhanced hydropower generation.
Before merging into the Bay of Bengal, the Godavari has seven mouths in total and is considered sacred by local Hindus. As per their traditional belief, the holy waters of the Godavari are said to have been brought from the head of Lord Shiva by the Rishi Gautama, and the seven branches by which it is traditionally supposed to have reached the sea are said have been made by seven great rishis known as Sapta Rishis. Thus, they are named after these seven great rishis and are named as Tulyabhāga (Tulya or Kaśyapa), Ātreya (Atri), Gautamī (Gautama), Jamadagni (now replaced by Vṛddhagautamī i.e. Old Gautami), Bhardwāja (Bharadwaja), Kauśika (Viswamitra) and Vaśișțha (Vasishtha). So bathing in these mouths are considered an act of great religious efficacy by native Hindus. These mouths are remembered by a Sanskrit sloka as follow:
tulyātreyī bharadvāja gautamī vṛddhagautamī
kauśikīca vaśiṣṭhaaca tathā sāgaraṃ gataḥ
(Godavari becomes) Tulya, Ātreyi, Bharadvāja, Gautamī, Vṛddhagautamī,
Kauśikī and Vaśiṣṭhaa and then passes into sea.[note 1]
Together they are referred as Sapta Godavari and the Godavari river before splitting is referred as Akhanda Godavari. However, there exists another eight mouth named as Vainateyam, which is not one of these traditional seven mouths and is supposed to have been created by a rishi of that name who stole a part of Vasisththa branch. Godavari was frequently referred as Ganga or Ganges by ancient Indian writings. However, the original branches of Kauśika, Bhardwaja and Jamadagni does not exist any longer and the pilgrims bathe in the sea at the spots where they are supposed to have been. The traditional Bharadwāja mouth is in Tirthālamondi (now bordering Savithri Nagar of Yanam and before a Hamlet of Guttenadivi) and the traditional Kauśika mouth is located at Rameswaram, a hamlet of Samathakurru village in Allavaram Mandal of Konaseema district. Traditional mouth of Jamadagni is not known and people instead take bath in the Vriddha Gautami branch at Kundaleswaram village in Katrenikona Mandal of Konaseema district. There is a local legend saying the Injaram and Patha (Old) Injaram (now on the other bank of Gautami river within Island Polavalam mandal of Konaseema district) were split by Godavari river. Thus the Godavari passing between these two now referred as Gautami and the old passage being referred as Vriddha Gautami. In early British records, the Injaram Paragana (district) was counted along with Muramalla village (now located on the other side of Gautami within Island Polavalam mandal) and said to have comprised 22 villages.
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The river is sacred to Hindus and has several places on its banks that have been places of pilgrimage for thousands of years. Amongst the huge numbers of people who have bathed in her waters as a rite of cleansing are said to have been the deity Baladeva 5000 years ago and the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago. Every twelve years, Pushkaram fair is held on the banks of the river.
A legend has it that the sage Gautama lived in the Brahmagiri Hills at Tryambakeshwar with his wife Ahalya. The couple lived the rest of their lives in the then village called Govuru, now known as Kovvur ("cow") since the British rule. Ahalya lived in a nearby place called Thagami (now Thogummi). The sage, as a reason for the practice of annadanam ("giving away food" to the needy), started cultivating rice crops and other crops. Once, the god Ganesha, on the wish of the munis, sent a miraculous cow maaya-dhenu, which resembled a normal cow. It entered the sage's abode and started spoiling the rice while he was meditating. Since cattle is sacred to Hindus and shall always be treated with respect, he put the dharbha grass on the cow. But, to his surprise, it fell dead. Seeing what happened before their eyes, the munis and their wives cried out, "We thought that Gautama-maharishi is a righteous man, but he committed bovicide (killing of a cow or cattle)!". The sage wished to atone for this grievous sin. Therefore, he went to Nashik and observed tapas to Lord Tryambakeshwara (a manifestation of the god Shiva), on the advice of the munis, praying for atonement and asking Him to make the Ganges flow over the cow. Shiva was pleased with the sage and diverted the Ganges which washed away the cow and gave rise to the Godavari river in Nashik. The water stream flowed past Kovvur and ultimately merged with the Bay of Bengal.
In olden days a pilgrimage named as sapta sāgara yātra was made by those desirous of offspring along the banks of the holy waters from the seven mouths. It starts with holy bathing at Tulyabhaga river at Chollangi village during On Amavasya day during Krishna Paksha of Pushya month as per Hindu calendar. That day is locally referred as Chollangi Amavasya. That place where the river branch merges with sea is referred as Tulya Sāgara Sangamam. Secondly, they take bath in Coringa village in the Coringa river which is considered as Atreya branch of Godavari and the holy bathing place is called as Atreya Sāgara Sangamam. After bathing at different banks of the other branches the pilgrimage ends by bathing near Narsapuram or Antarvedi.
Sites of pilgrimage include:
See also: Wildlife sanctuaries of India, Tiger reserves of India, and List of national parks of India
The following are few other wildlife sanctuaries located in the river basin:
See also: List of waterfalls of India
Duduma Waterfalls is 175 metres (574 ft) high and one of the highest waterfalls in southern India. It is located on the Sileru River which forms boundary between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha states. The following are a few other waterfalls located in the river basin:
There are 4 bridges spanning the river between East Godavari and West Godavari districts.
The main Godavari River up to the confluence with Pranhita tributary is dammed fully to utilize the available water for irrigation. However, its main tributaries Pranhita, Indravati and Sabari which join in the lower reaches of the basin, carry three times more water compared to main Godavari. In 2015, the water surplus Godavari River is linked to the water deficit Krishna River by commissioning the Polavaram right bank canal with the help of Pattiseema lift scheme to augment water availability to the Prakasam Barrage located in Andhra Pradesh. More dams are constructed in the Godavari River basin than in any other river basin of India. The following are the few dams located in the river basin:
The Godavari river in Maharashtra is one of the rivers whose water energy is least harnessed for generating hydro electricity. The 600 MW capacity Upper Indravati hydro power station is the biggest hydro power station which diverts Godavari River water to the Mahanadi River basin. The following is the list of hydro electric power stations excluding small and medium installations.
|Name of the project||Rated Power (in MW)|
|Ghatghar pumped storage||250|
|Polavaram (under construction)||960|
Nearly 2490 tmcft of water has gone waste to the sea on average in a water year from 1 June 2003 to 31 May 2022 (19 years). The yearly water unutilized is given below
|Unutilized water (tmcft)||3190||1628||301||4875||2862||1819||743||4015||1538||2969||5827||2006||1611||2896||1026||2435||1757||3436||2377|
The primary and initial catchment of the Godavari drainage basin is largely represented by the basalt of the Deccan Volcanic Province (~50% of the total basin area). This is followed by the Precambrian granites and gneisses of the eastern Dharwar Craton, sandstones, shales and limestones of the Gondwana Supergroup, various sedimentary units of Cuddapah and Vindhyan basins, charnockites and khondalites of the Proterozoic Eastern Ghats Mobile Belt and the sandstones of the Rajahmundry Formation. The Godavari River carries the largest sediment load among the peninsular rivers and the majority of the mass transfer in Godavari occurs during the monsoon. Mineral magnetic studies of the Godavari River sediments suggest that the floodplains in the entire stretch of the river are characterized by a Deccan basalt source. The bed loads on the other hand are of sourced from local bedrock. Influx of Deccan source in the Godavari River up to the delta regions and possibly in the Bay of Bengal off the Godavari, therefore, can be related to the intensive chemical weathering in the Deccan basalts. Abrupt increase in δ13C values and decrease in TOC content accompanied with a significant increase in ferrimagnetic mineral concentration in Bay of Bengal sediments from ~3.2 to 3.1 cal. ka BP reflected a shift of organic carbon and sediment source and a severe decline in vegetation coverage. Such phenomena indicate intensified deforestation and soil/rock erosion in the Deccan Plateau producing higher ferrimagnetic mineral inputs, which is in agreement with significant expansion of agricultural activities in the Deccan Chalcolithic cultural period.
See also: List of mines in India
The Godavari River basin is endowed with rich mineral deposits such as oil and gas, coal, iron, limestone, manganese, copper, bauxite, granite, laterite, and others. The following are the few noted deposits:
The frequent drying up of the Godavari river in the drier months has been a matter of great concern. Indiscriminate damming along the river has been cited as an obvious reason. Within Maharashtra sugarcane irrigation has been blamed as one of the foremost causes.
In 2013, the river was at its all-time low in the Nizamabad district of Telangana. This had hit the growth of fish, making the life of fishermen miserable. The water-level was so low that people could easily walk into the middle of the river. Shortage in rainfall and closure of the controversial Babli project gates in Maharashtra was thought to have affected the water flow in the river and water availability to the Sriram Sagar Project except during above 20% excess monsoon (i.e. one out of four years) years.
A study has found that the delta is at a greater risk as the rate of sediment aggradation (raising the level of the delta through sediment deposition) no longer exceeds relative sea level rise. It further states that the suspended sediment load at the delta has reduced from 150·2 million tons during 1970–1979 to 57·2 million tons by 2000–2006, which translates into a three-fold decline in the past 4 decades. Impacts of this can be seen in destroyed villages like Uppada in Godavari delta, destruction of Mangrove forests and fragmentation of shoreline – possibly a fallout of dam construction.
Said to further epitomise the insensitivity towards Godavari, is the Polavaram Project which is touted to be gigantic – both in terms of size and violations. Deemed as being pointless and politically driven, the project raises questions about environmental clearance, displacement of upstream human habitations, loss of forest cover, technicalities in the dam design which are said to play down flood threats and unsafe embankments.
High alkalinity water is discharged from the ash dump areas of many coal fired power stations into the river which further increases the alkalinity of the river water whose water is naturally of high alkalinity since the river basin is draining vast area of basalt formations. This problem aggravates during the lean flow months in entire river basin. Already the Godavari basin area in Telangana is suffering from high alkalinity and salinity water problem which is converting soils in to unproductive sodic alkali soils. The following are the few coal fired power stations located in the river basin:
|Name of Power Station||Rated Power (in MW)|
|Koradi Thermal Power Station||2,600|
|Khaparkheda Thermal Power Station||1,340|
|Tiroda Thermal Power Station||3,300|
|Butibori Power Plant||600|
|RattanIndia Nashik TPS||1,350|
|Mauda Super Thermal Power Station||1,000|
|Parli Thermal Power Station||1,130|
|Dhariwal Power Station||300|
|Nashik Thermal Power Station||910|
|Wardha Warora Power Plant||540|
|Pench Thermal Power Plant||1,320|
|Lanco Vidarbha Thermal Power||1,320|
|Kothagudem Thermal Power Station||1,720|
|Kakatiya Thermal Power Station||1,100|
|Ramagundam B Thermal Power Station||60|
|Manuguru Heavy water plant's power station||90|
|Singareni thermal power station||1,800|
|Bhadradri Thermal Power Plant||1,080|
One of the ships of the Indian Navy has been named INS Godavari after the river. Godavari is also the codename of some variants of AMD APU chips.