Cauvery River

From Academic Kids

fr:Kâverî sv:Kaveri

The Cauvery River (also spelled Kaveri or Kavery) is one of the great sacred rivers of India. It rises in the Western Ghats range of Karnataka state, and flows through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to empty into the Bay of Bengal. Its waters have supported irrigated agriculture for centuries, and the Cauvery has been the lifeblood of the ancient kingdoms and modern cities of South India.

Its source is around 5,000 feet above sea level at Talacauvery in the Western Ghats near Madikeri in Kodagu (Coorg) District of Karnataka. Talacauvery is a famous pligrimage and tourist spot set amidst Bramahagiri Hills. At the source of the River there is a temple where every year on the specified day known as Tula sankramana, thousands flock to see the divine sight of the river water gushing out like a fountain at a predetermined time. It flows generally south and east for around 765 km, emptying into the Bay of Bengal through two principal mouths. Its basin is estimated to be 27,700 square miles, and it has many tributaries, including Lakshmana Theertha, Kabini, Lokapavani, Bhavani, and Noyil.

The Cauvery is known to devout Hindus as Dakshina Ganga, or the Ganges of the south, and the whole of its course is holy ground. According to the legend there was once born upon earth a girl named Vishnumaya or Lopamudra, the daughter of Brahma; but her divine father permitted her to be regarded as the child of a mortal, called Kavera-muni. In order to obtain beatitude for her adoptive father, she resolved to become a river whose waters should purify from all sin. Hence it is that even the holy Ganges resorts underground once in the year to the source of the Cauvery, to purge herself from the pollution contracted from the crowd of sinners who have bathed in her waters.

The river forms three islands, Srirangapatna and Shivanasamudram in Karnataka and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. All the three islands have strong Vaishnavite presence, with sculptures of Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture on the legendary seven-headed Serpent as the celestial bed (Sheshashayana). These three temples are known as 'Adi Ranga', 'Madya Ranga' and 'Anthya Ranga'.

At Sivasamudram island the river drops 320 ft (98 m), forming famous falls known as Gagan chukki and Bara Chukki. On the left falls is India's first hydroelectric plant (built in 1902) and the city of Bangalore when it was electrified in 1906, was the first city in Asia to get electric power and to have electric street lights.

In its course through Karnataka the channel is interrupted by twelve anicuts or dams for the purpose of irrigation. From the anicut at Madadkatte, an artificial channel is led to a distance of 72 miles, irrigating an area of 10,000 acres (40 km²), and ultimately bringing a water-supply into the town of Mysore. Near Sriranagapatna, there is an ancient aqueduct, the Bangara Doddi Nala, which was constructed by the Wodeyar Ruler Ranadhira Kanteerva in memory of his favorite consort. It is said to be the only aqueduct where the water from the very same river, dammed upstream, is carried by the aqueduct over the very same river few miles downstream. This acqueduct also served as a motorable bridge till 1964. There are many ancient and modern canals jotting all along the river path for irrigational purposes. It also serves as the main drinking water source for many towns and villages. The city of Bangalore depends almost entirely on Cauvery for its drinking water supply. Large dams were constructed across the river for irrigation at Krishna Raja Sagar in Karnataka and at Mettur in Tamil Nadu. Sharing the river water has been a major bone of contention between the farmers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for well over a century, and remains unresolved.

After entering Tamil Nadu, the Cauvery forms the boundary between the Erode and Salem districts. The Bhavani River joins the Cauvery at the town of Bhavani, where the Sangameswarar Temple, an important pilgrimage spot in southern India, was built at the confluence of the two rivers. Sweeping past the historic rock of Tiruchirapalli, it breaks at the island of Srirangam into two channels, which enclose between them the delta of Thanjavur (Tanjore), the garden of South India. The northern channel is called the Coleroon (Kolidam); the other preserves the name of Cauvery, and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar, a few hundred miles south of Chennai (Madras). On the seaward face of its delta are the seaports of Nagapattinam and Karikal. Irrigation works have been constructed in the delta for over 2000 years. The most ancient surviving irrigation work is the Grand Anicut or Kallanai, a massive dam of unhewn stone, 329 meters (1080 feet) long and 20 meters (60 feet) wide, across the stream of the Cauvery proper. It is attributed to the Chola king Karikalan, and is supposed to date back to the 2nd century. The dam is still in excellent repair, and supplied a model to later engineers. The area irrigated by the ancient system was 69,000 acres (280 km²), which by the early 20th century had been increased to about 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km²). The chief 19th century work is the anicut across the Coleroon, 2250 ft. long, constructed by Sir Arthur Cotton between 1836 and 1838.

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