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Tungabhadra River
Tungabhadra Hampi DK.jpg
Tungabhadra River at Hampi
Origin Koodali, Shimoga district, Karnataka
Basin countries India

The Tungabhadra River is a sacred river in southern India that flows through the state of Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh, where it serves as the chief tributary of the Krishna River. In the epic Ramayana, the Tungabhadra river was known by the name of Pampa



The Tungabhadra River is formed by the confluence of two rivers, the Tunga River and the Bhadra River, which flow down the eastern slope of the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka. Along with Nethravathi (west flowing river, joining the Arabian Sea near Mangalore), the Thunga and the Bhadra rie at Gangamoola, in Varaha Parvatha in the Western Ghats forming parts of the world famous Kuduremukh Iron Ore Project, at an elevation of 1198 Mtrs. More than one hundred, tributaries, streams, creeks, rivulets and the like contribute to each of these two rivers. The journey of Thunga and the Bhadra is 147 km and 171 km respectively, till they join at Kudali, at an elevation of about 610 metres near Holehonnur, about 15 km from Shimoga; areca granary of the country. It is a confluence of both the Dwaitha and the Adwaitha philosophies. From there, Thungabhadra meanders through the plains to a disitance of 531 km and mingles with the Krishna at Gondimalla, near the famous Alampur in Mahaboobnagar District of Andhra Pradesh. Varada flowing through Shimoga, Uttara Kannada and Haveri Districts and Hagari in Chitradurga and Bellary Districts in Karnataka and Handri in Kurnool distriict of A.P. are the main tributaries of the Tungabhadra. Many rivulets and streams join these tributaries.

There are many holy places all along the rivers; primarily Temples of Saiva Cult on the banks of the Bhadra and all the cults on the banks of the Thunga. Sringeri, Sarada Petham established by the Adi Shnkarcaharya is the most famous one on the left bank of the Thunga, about 50 km downstream of its origin. Manthralayam Sree Raghavendra Swamy Muth in Kurnool Disitricit and Alampur in Mahaboobnagar Districit, known as Dakshina Kashi are the other important pilgrimage centres. There is a cluster of Nava Brahma temples constructed by the early Chalukyas. Jogulamba is the presiding deity of the place. Another important feature of the river banks is the flood protection walls all along the rivers, constructed by Sri Krishna Devaraya between 1525 and 1527 AD. You find them wherever there is a possibility of land erosion during the floods. It starts at Sringeri and ends at Kurnool; just few km from its mouth. They are of stone constructions and are still intact. Huge boulders of the size of 3' X 4' X 5' are also used in its construction.

It then takes a northeasterly direction through rugged ridges formed by boulders piled on ancient granite outcroppings over the elevated plateau that dominates peninsular India, the Deccan Plateau.

Near Hampi

Piles of granite in varying colors of grey, ochre and pink dominate the landscape. The river has cut through weaker rocky substrata of the Hampi landscape and created a narrow gorge where granite hills confine the river in a deep ravine.[1]

Near Hampi

In this setting the ruins of Vijayanagara and Hampi, the seat of power of the Vijayanagar empire, overlook this holy river, creating a mythological landscape merging sacred traditions about a multitude of significant divinities.[2]

The granite outcrops slowly disappear as the river flows south and the land opens into a long, broad plain ending at the rising slopes of the Sandur hills, rich in iron and manganese, beyond which is the town of Hosapete. A dam, the Tungabhadra Dam, was constructed at Hosapete in the middle of the 20th century to harness the river water, aiding the growth of agriculture and industry in the region.[3]

The Tungabhadra River then flows east, joining the Krishna in Andhra Pradesh state. From here the Krishna continues east to empty into the Bay of Bengal. The wedge of land that lies north of the Tungabhadra River, between the Tungabhadra and the Krishna, is known as the Raichur Doab.


There are a number of ancient and holy sites on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. At Harihara there is a temple dedicated to Harihareshwara. Surrounding the modern town of Hampi, are the ruins of Vijayanagara, the site of the powerful Vijayanagara Empire's capital city and now a World Heritage Site. The site, including the Vijayanagara temple complex ruins, are being restored. Alampur, on the left - northern bank of the river, known as Dakshina Kashi in Mahaboobnagar Dist. nbout 25 km from Kurnool is another important place, wherein the Early Chalukyas built a cluster of temples. The Nava Brahma Temples complex is one of the earliest models of temple architecture in India. Jogulamba is the presiding deity.

The Moola Brindavana of Guru Raghavendra is located on banks of Tungabhadra at Mantralayam.


About 15 km downstream from Shimoga at Gajanur across the River Tunga a dam is constructed. At Lakkavalli about 15 km upstream of Bhadravati across the Bhadra a dam is constructed. Both are multipurpose dams and irrigate lands in Shimoga, Chikkamagalur, Davanagere and Haveri.

Dam on River in Hosapete, Bellary Dist

TungaBhadra dam is constructed across river Tungabhadra, a tributary of River Krishna. The dam is built near the town of Hosapete in Karnataka. It is considered as a multipurpose dam or project. Its storage capacity is 135 Tmcft. Owing to siltation the capacity has been reduced by about 30 Tmcft. If there is seasonal and late rains, the dam distributes the estimated quantity of 235 Tmcft. The dam is filled as when the water is let into the cnals during the rainy season. The main architect of the dam was Thirumalai Iyengar, an engineer from Madras. As Tungabhadra Dam was constructed by him, so a general purpose hall in this place was named after him. Multipurpose dams are the one's which help in generation of electricity, irrigation of land, Prevention and control of floods etc. It has become a picnic or tourist spot over the years. The dam is near to world famous heritage site Hampi.

At Sunkesula, about 25 km upstream from Kurnool a barrage was constructed at about 1860s by the British Engineer, hailed as Bhagiratha for Andhras, Sir Arthur Cotton. Originally was intended to be used for navigation also. As the road and rail transportation increased it is now an irrigation project, for Kurnool and Kadapa Districts, carrying water through the renowned K.C.Canal.(Kurnool - Cuddapah canal- Till recently Kadapa was spelled "Cuddapah"). Recently the barrage is replaced by the Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy Project- a permanent dam. It impounds about 15,000,000,000 cubic feet (0.42 km3) of water and irrigates about 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) of land in Kurnool and Kadapa districts.

Reservoir of the Dam


Industrial pollution has damaged the Tungabhadra river. Industry and mining on its banks in the Chikkamagalur, Shimoga, Davangere, Haveri, Bellary, Koppal and Raichcur Districts of Karnataka and Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh (almost all the districts along the course of the river) generate enormous amounts of effluents. According to M. Shankar, "It is disturbing to note that nearly three crores of litres of effluents were being released to the Tunga from [Shimoga] every year."[4] This is the contribution of one city which, like Bhadrvathi and Hospet, cannot boast of being an industrial city. As such it is one of the most polluted rivers in the country.

Downriver from the industries, the water has turned dark brown and has a pungent odour. Altogether, the Tungabhadra River pollution has affected 1,000,000 people in the sub-basin as most villages used the river water, previously obtained through the ancient tank system, for drinking, bathing, irrigating crops, fishing and livestock water. The livelihood of village fishermen has been harmed by regular fish kills that have exhausted Tungabhadra's fisheries.[5]

See also


External links

Coordinates: 15°53′19″N 78°09′51″E / 15.888697°N 78.164291°E / 15.888697; 78.164291


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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