The Mahanadi is a major river in East Central India. It drains an area of around 141,600 square kilometres (54,700 sq mi) and has a total course of 858 kilometres (533 mi) Mahanadi is also known for the Hirakud Dam.[1] The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Mahanadi River
sulakh river
The Mahanadi
PartsChhattisgarh, Odisha
RegionDandakaranya, Dakshina Kosala Kingdom, Coastal Plains
Raipur, Janjgir, Bilaspur, Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Boudh, Anugul, Cuttack, Banki, Jagatsinghpur, Jharsuguda
CitiesRajim, Sambalpur, Cuttack, Sonepur, Birmaharajpur, Subalaya, Kantilo, Boudh, Cuttack, Banki
Physical characteristics
 - locationSihawa, Dhamtari, Dandakaranya, Chhattisgarh, India
 - coordinates20°07′N 81°55′E / 20.11°N 81.91°E
 - elevation890 m (2,920 ft)
 - location
False Point, Jagatsinghpur, Delta, Odisha, India
 - elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length800 to 900 km (500 to 560 mi)
Basin size141,600 km2 (54,700 sq mi)
 - locationFalse Point, Odisha
 - average2,119 m3/s (74,800 cu ft/s)
 - maximum56,700 m3/s (2,000,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 - leftSeonath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo
 - rightOng, parry river, Jonk, Telen


The word Mahanadi is a compound of the Sanskrit words maha ("great") and nadi ("river").[2]


Mahanadi is a major river of India
Mahanadi is a major river of India
Mahanadi river
Mahanadi is a major river with its delta on the east coast

Like many other seasonal Indian rivers, the Mahanadi too is a combination of many mountain streams and thus its precise source is impossible to pinpoint. However its farthest headwaters lie 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from Pharsiya village 442 metres (1,450 ft) above sea level south of Sihawa town in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh.[3][4] The hills here are an extension of the Eastern Ghats and are a source of many other streams which then go on to join the Mahanadi.

For the first 80 kilometres (50 mi) of its course, the Mahanadi flows in a northerly direction and drains the Raipur district and touches eastern portions of Raipur city. It is a rather narrow river at this stage and the total width of its valley does not exceed 500–600 metres.

Middle course

After being joined by the Seonath, the river flows in an easterly direction through the remaining part of its journey. It is joined by the Jonk 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 the earth, concrete and masonry, the dam measures 24 kilometres (15 mi) 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 kilometres (287 sq mi) at full capacity, with a shoreline of over 640 kilometres (400 mi).[5]

After the formation of Chhattisgarh State, the major portion of Mahanadi basin now lies in Chhattisgarh. Presently, only 154 square kilometres (59 sq mi) 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 kilometres (40 mi) 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 kilometres (6.8 mi) 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.[6]


The Mahanadi River Delta at False Point.

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.[7]


Prior to the construction of Hirakud Dam, the Mahanadi was navigable from its mouth up to Arrang, about a 190 kilometres (120 mi) from its source. However numerous barrages apart from the Hirakud have put an end to that. Today, boats are restricted to the delta region and the Hirakud reservoir.[6][8]

Trade and agriculture

Mahanadi River
Mahanadi River

The Mahanadi is an important river in the state of Odisha. This river flows slowly for about 900 kilometres (560 mi) and deposits more silt than any other river in the Indian subcontinent.

The cities of Cuttack and Sambalpur were prominent trading places in the ancient world and the river itself has been referred to as the Manada in Ptolemy's works. However today the Mahanadi valley is best known for its fertile soil and flourishing agriculture. Prior to the Hirakud dacarthe Indian subcontinent.[9]


Zobra bridge view
Zobra bridge view

Average annual surface water potential of 66.9 km³ has been assessed in this basin. Out of this, 50.0 km³ is utilisable water. Culturable area in the basin is about 80,000 square kilometres (31,000 sq mi), which is 4% of the total culturable area of the country.

Present use of surface water in the basin is 17.0 km³. Live storage capacity in the basin has increased significantly since independence. From just about 0.8 km³ in the pre-plan period, the total live storage capacity of the completed projects has increased to 8.5 km³. In addition, a substantial storage quantity of over 5.4 km³ would be created on completion of projects under construction. Additional storage to the tune of over 11.0 km³ would become available on execution of projects under consideration. The hydropower potential of the basin has been assessed as 627 MW at 60% load factor.[10]

At its peak during the monsoon, the Mahanadi has a discharge rate of 2,000,000 cubic feet (57,000 m3) per second,[3] almost as much as the much larger Ganges. However owing to its seasonal nature the river is mostly a narrow channel flanked by wide sand banks for most of the year.[11]


1 Mahanadi River near Satkosia Tiger Reserve Tikarpara India 2012
Mahanadi River near Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Odisha
Plum-headed parakeet at Tikarpara Odisha India December 2012
Plum-headed parakeet at Tikarpara on the bank of river Mahanadi.

The Mahanadi was notorious for its devastating floods for much of recorded history. Thus it was called 'the sorrow of Orissa'. However the construction of the Hirakud Dam has greatly altered the situation. Today a network of canals, barrages and check dams keep the river well in control. However heavy rain can still cause large scale flooding as evidenced in September, 2008 when 16 people died as the river breached its banks.

In 2011, September heavy down pour of rain caused flash flood and many mud dwellings in more than 25 villages above Hirakud Dam which were never affected before, both in Chhattisgarh and Odisha, have melted down due to back water that could not pass through the river.[12]


  1. ^ Mahanadi River (river, India) - Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Dharmendra Nath Shastri (1973). Studies in indology. Institute of Indology. p. 146.
  3. ^ a b Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 16, page 431 - Imperial Gazetteer of India - Digital South Asia Library
  4. ^ and Water Resources of India by Sharad K. Jain, Pushpendra K. Agarwal, Vijay P. Singh
  5. ^ [1] Archived November 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ [2] Archived November 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 16, page 432 - Imperial Gazetteer of India - Digital South Asia Library
  9. ^ Research within Academic Books, Articles and Research Topics | Questia, Your Online Research Library
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^
  12. ^

Further reading

  • The Imperial Gazetteer of India-William Hunter, 1901
  • The Encyclopædia Britannica-1911 Ed.
  • The Columbus Encyclopedia

External links

Baitarani River

The Baitarani River or River Baitarani is one of six major rivers of Odisha, India. Venerated in popular epics and legends, the Baitarani River is a source of water for agricultural irrigation. Most of the potentially arable land in the area is not under cultivation. The coastal plain of Odisha has the name of "Hexadeltaic region" or the "Gift of Six Rivers". These deltas divide the coastal plain into three regions from north to south. The Baitarani, the Mahanadi and the Brahmani rivers form the Middle Coastal Plain, with evidence of past "back bays" and present lakes.

Brahmani River

The Brahmani is a major seasonal river in the Odisha state of Eastern India. The Brahmani is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers, and flows through the districts of Sundargarh, Deogarh, Angul, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Jajapur and Kendrapara. Together with the riversBaitarani, it forms a large delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra.


Cuttack ( (listen)) is the former capital and the second largest city in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. It is also the headquarters of the Cuttack district. The name of the city is an anglicised form of Kataka which literally means The Fort, a reference to the ancient Barabati Fort around which the city initially developed. Cuttack is also known as the Millennium City as well as the Silver City due to its history of 1000 years and famous silver filigree works. It is also considered as the judicial capital of Odisha as the Odisha High Court is located here. It is also the commercial capital of Odisha which hosts a large number of trading and business houses in and around the city. Cuttack is also famous for its Durga puja which is the most important festival of Odisha and West Bengal. Cuttack is also the birth place of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The old and the most important part of the city is centred on a strip of land between the Kathajodi River and the Mahanadi River, bounded on the southeast by Old Jagannath Road. The city, being a part of the Cuttack Municipal Corporation consisting of 59 wards. Cuttack stretches from Phulnakhara across the Kathajodi in the south to Choudwar in north across the Birupa River, while in the east it begins at Kandarpur and runs west as far as Naraj. Four rivers including Mahanadi and its distributaries Kathajodi, Kuakhai, Birupa run through the city. Further Kathajodi is distributed into Devi and Biluakhai which often makes the geographical area look like fibrous roots.

Cuttack and Bhubaneswar are often referred to as the Twin-Cities of Odisha. The metropolitan area formed by the two cities has a population of 1.82 million in 2018. Cuttack is categorised as a Tier-II city as per the ranking system used by Government of India.Cuttack an unplanned city, is characterized by a maze of streets, lanes and by-lanes which has given it the nickname of a city with Baban Bazaar, Tepan Galee and i.e. 52 markets and 53 streets. Cuttack is best known as a City of Brotherhood or Bhai-Chara where people of all religious communities have been residing for centuries in harmony and co-operation.

Devi River

Devi river is one of the principal distributaries of Mahanadhi. It flows through Jagatsinghpur district and Puri district across Odisha state in India and joins Bay of Bengal.

Eastern Coastal Plains

The Eastern Coastal Plains is a wide stretch of landmass of India, lying between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. It is wider and leveled than the Western Coastal Plains and stretches from Tamil Nadu in the south to West Bengal in the north through Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Chilka Lake is a brackish water lake along the eastern coastal plain. It lies in the state of Odisha and stretches to the south of the Mahanadi Delta.Deltas of many of India's rivers form a major portion of these plains. The Mahanadi, Godavari, Kaveri and Krishna rivers drain these plains. The region receives both the Northeast & Southwest monsoon rains with its annual rainfall averaging between 1,000 and 3,000 mm (39 and 118 in). The width of the plains varies between 100 and 120 km (62 to 80 miles).

It is locally known as Utkal Plains in the Northern part between Kangsabati and Rushikulya Rivers, Northern Circars in the Central part between Rushikulya and Krishna Rivers and, as Coromandel Coast in the Southern part from the south of river Krishna till the Southern tip of Mainland India at Cape Comorin where it merges .

Hirakud Dam

Hirakud Dam is built across the Mahanadi River, about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Sambalpur in the state of Odisha in India. Behind the dam extends a lake, Hirakud Reservoir, 55 km (34 mi) long. It is one of the first major multipurpose river valley projects started after India's independence.

Ib River

Ib River is a tributary of Mahanadi river in North-Eastern Central India. It joins Mahanadi river flowing directly into the Hirakud Reservoir. The river originates in hills near Pandrapet at an elevation of 762 metres (2,500 ft). It passes through Raigarh district and Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh and Jharsuguda and Sundargarh District of Odisha and finally meets Mahanadi at Hirakud Dam in the state .

Ib river valley is famous for its rich coal belt, Ib Valley Coalfield. Major portions of Mahanadi Coalfields are situated on the banks of Ib. Many industries have flourished on the banks of the river Ib. The Ib valley areas are counted as one of the most important industrial zones of Eastern India. The river runs for a distance of about 252 kilometres (157 mi) and drains an area of 12,447 square kilometres (4,806 sq mi).There are enough sightseeing opportunities in the adjoining areas of River Ib. it is believed that the perennial river inspired several tribal groups of Chhattisgarh and Odisha to make a permanent habitat on its bank in the past ages. Also, there are ample folklores regarding the mythological significance of the Ib river.

Kuakhai River

Kuakhai River is a distributary of Mahanadi River which flows by Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Mahanadi River branches off at Naraj, Cuttack as Kathajodi River, then immediately it is bifurcated, with its southern branch flowing as Kuakhai River. The Kushabhadra River branches off from the Kuakhai River Gandarpur Balianta and flows in a south-western direction towards Nimapara and Gop into Bay of Bengal. The Daya River starts as a branch of the Kuakhai River at Saradeipur (near Badahati) and is then joined by the Malaguni River below Golabai and flows through Khordha and Puri districts before emptying into the north-eastern corner of Chilika Lake. Most of the water supply of Bhubaneswar is met by the Kuakhai river, along with Daya river.

Kushabhadra River

Kushabhadra River forms the complex of river systems which form the distributaries of the Mahanadi River. It branches off from the Kuakhai River, which is a distributary of the Mahanadi, at Balianta and flows in a south western direction towards Nimapara and Gop for 46–50 miles before sinking into the Bay of Bengal near Ramachandi Temple, 15 miles east of Puri in the Puri District of Odisha.Dhanua River is its main tributary, bringing in water to its parent body.

Mahanadi (film)

Mahanadi (English : The Great River) is a 1994 Tamil-language Indian drama film directed by Santhana Bharathi featuring Kamal Haasan, Sukanya and Cochin Haneefa. It portrays the grief of a humble villager who sees his family and property being ruined. The film deals with several issues such as corruption and child trafficking. It was dubbed in Telugu with the same title. It was critically acclaimed, but was only an above average grosser at the box office. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil.

Mahanadi Bridge, Boudh

Mahanadi Bridge, Boudh (Odia: ମହାନଦୀ ସେତୁ) is connecting Kiakata and Boudh. This bridge over river Mahanadi is felicitating communication between Sambalpur, Rairakhol, Kadligarh, Birmaharajpur, and Subalaya with Boudh town. It is the second biggest bridge in Odisha. The work on this bridge was started on 22.04.1998 and completed on 31.12.2002. Length of this bridge is 1858.66m.

Mahanadi Coalfields

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) is one of the major coal producing company of India. It is one of the eight subsidiaries of Coal India Limited. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited was carved out of South Eastern Coalfields Limited in 1992 with its headquarters at Sambalpur. It has its coal mines spread across Odisha It has total seven open cast mines and three underground mines under its fold.MCL has two subsidiaries with private companies as a joint venture. The name of these companies are MJSJ Coal Limited & MNH Shakti Ltd.There are 45 sanctioned mining projects in MCL with a capacity of 190.83 Mty of coal. The total capital outlay of 45 projects is ₹6,076.78 crore (US$850 million) & out of which 28 with a total capacity of 73.98 Mty have been completed by 1 April 2009 with a sanctioned capital investment of ₹2,348.61 crore (US$330 million). Out of the 28 completed projects, 2 have been exhausted (Balanda OCP & Basundhara-East OCP). One Expn. Project, namely, Lajkura Expn. (2.50 Mty, 1.50 Mty incr.) is going to be approved within a short period of time.

Approval of Garjanbahal OCP (10.00 Mty) has been stalled temporarily due to delay in getting Forestry clearance. Seventeen ongoing projects i.e. Kulda OCP (10.00 Mty), Bhubaneswari OCP (20.00 Mty), Kaniha OCP (10.00 Mty), Bharatpur Expn. Ph.-III (9.00 Mty Incr.), Balaram OC Extn. (8.00 Mty), Ananta Expn. Ph.-III (3.00 Mty Incr.), Lakhanpur Expn. Ph.-III (5.00 Mty Incr.), Hingula Expn. Ph.-III (7.00 Mty Incr.), Talcher West) UG (0.52 Mty), Natraj U/G (0.64 Mty), Jagannath U/G (0.67 Mty), Bharatpur OC Expn. Ph-II (6.00 Mty Incr.), Lakhanpur Expn. (5.00 Mty Incr.), HBI UG Aug. (0.42 Mty), Basundhara (W) Expn. (4.60 Mty Incr.) and two JV projects Gopalprasad OCP (15.00 Mty), Talabira OCP (20.00 Mty) with a capital investment of ₹3,728.17 crore (US$520 million) are under implementation.

Mahanadi River Delta

Mahanadi River Delta in India is a basin of deposit that drains a large land mass of the Indian subcontinent into the Bay of Bengal. The alluvial valley is wide and relatively flat with a meandering river channel that changes its course.The Mahanadi River flows slowly for 900 kilometres (560 mi) and has an estimated drainage area of 132,100 square kilometres (51,000 sq mi). It deposits more silt than almost any other river in the Indian subcontinent.The area of the drainage basin is 141,464 km2. The interior coastal plain has a relatively low elevation. The average elevation of the drainage basin is 426 m, with a maximum of 877 m and a minimum of 193 m.

Mand River

The Mand River is a tributary of the Mahanadi in India. It joins the Mahanadi in Chandarpur, in Chhattisgarh, 28 km from the Odisha border and before the river reaches the Hirakud Dam.

The river, whose total length is 241 km, rises to an elevation of about 686 m in Surguja district in Chhattisgarh. It receives the drainage of the southern part of the Mainpat Plateau, an area of about 5200 km2.

Ong River

Ong River is a tributary of Mahanadi river. It flows across Odisha and joins Mahanadi 240 km (150 mi) upstream of Sonepur where Tel merges. The river rises at an elevation of 457 m (1,499 ft) and runs 204 km (127 mi) before it meets Mahanadi. It drains an area of about 5,128 km2 (1,980 sq mi).

Nearby cities to river Ong: Bolangir (39 km or 24 mi), Sohela (40 km or 25 mi), Saraipali (45 km or 28 mi), Bargarh (59 km or 37 mi), Sonepur (70 km or 43 mi), Burla (89 km or 55 mi), Sambalpur (94 km or 58 mi) and some others cities also.

Nearby rivers to Ong river: Tel Nadi 76 km (47 mi), Gorkha Nadi 171 km (106 mi), Subarnarekha River/Swarnarekha River 431 km (268 mi), Godavari 485 km (301 mi), Manairu Vagu 508 km (316 mi).


Sambalpur (Sambalpur ) is a city and Municipal Corporation and located in the western part of Odisha, and is one of the largest and oldest cities in the state. It is the headquarters of Northern Revenue Division, Mahanadi Coalfield Limited (MCL) and one of the railway division from East Coast Railway zone. It is situated about 300 km (190 mi) west of the state capital Bhubaneswar, 550 km (340 mi) west of Kolkata in West Bengal and 278 km (173 mi) east of Raipur in Chhattisgarh. It is on the bank of the Mahanadi River.

Second Mahanadi Rail Bridge

The Second Mahanadi Rail Bridge is a rail bridge over the Mahanadi near Cuttack in the Indian state of Odisha.

The first Mahanadi Rail Bridge was opened on 1 January 1899. It had 64 spans of 100 feet (30.48 meters) each, on wells 19 ft 6 inches (5.94 meters) in diameter sunk to 60 ft (18.28 meters) below low water level. The Engineer in Charge of construction of the first Mahanadi Rail Bridge was William Beckett, who won a gold medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1901 for a paper he presented on the bridge construction.The 2.1 km (1.3 miles) long Second Mahanadi Rail Bridge built at a cost of Rs. 120 crore was commissioned in 2008. The bridge has been designed for a train speed of 160 km per hour (99.41 miles per hour). Adequate steps have been taken to withstand quake.

Tel River

The Tel river flows in Nabarangpur, Kalahandi, Balangir, Sonpur District of Odisha, India. Tel is an important tributary of Mahanadi. It flows just eight kilometers away from the town of Titilagarh. This significant tributary of the Mahanadi river meets the main river at Sonepur or Subarnapur. The convergence of the two rivers offers a remarkable view against a colorful landscape. Baidyanath temple, which is famous for the Kosaleshwar Shiva temple, is located on the left bank of the Tel River.

Source: The Tel river originates in plain and open country in the koraput district of Odisha, India.

Telen River

The Tel River is a tributary of the Mahanadi in East Central India. The Bhede River is a tributary to this river. The historical Kolabira Fort is situated on the bank of this river. Jharsuguda town lies on the bank of this river.

Hydrography of the Indian subcontinent
Inland rivers
Inland lakes, deltas, etc.
Hot springs
Harbours/Ports/Proposed Ports
Related topics
Hydrography of surrounding areas
Related topics
Hydrography of surrounding areas
Mahanadi–BrahmaniBaitarani basin
Dams, barrages
Geographical features
Riparian districts
Languages/ people
Other basins
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