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The journey of Cauvery

E R Ramachandran

Updated: January 25, 2016, 2:18 PM IST
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River Cauvery is regarded as a sacred river and also revered by millions because of its perennial use for quenching the thirsty and use for irrigation of thousands of hectares of land. Two of most famous incidents one when a ruling queen of Mysore Royal Family sold her family jewels to fund construction of a dam and second generation of electricity for the first time in Asia using the river is recounted.

The birth of river Kaveri takes place in Talakaveri in Kodagu, Karnataka at a place in Bhagamandala 8 kms from Talacauvery. The birthday of Cauvery is celebrated as Tulasankramana when water gushes out at a specific place in a predetermined auspicious moment on October 17th in Bhagamandala.

Kaveri is the original name which became Cauvery when the British ruled the country. It is time to bring back the original name Kaveri.
Cauvery has become a lifeline to millions of people in southern peninsula quenching their thirst and helping farmers raise bumper crops most notably paddy, jaggery and vegetables.

Practically Karnataka, Tamil Nadu depend entirely on river Cauvery for their existence.

This would not have been possible but for the great sacrifice and magnanimity of Maharani - regent of erstwhile Wadeyar Royal family, Kempananjammanni Vani Vilasa Sannidhana who sold family jewelry, diamonds, gold and silver plates to raise funds for construction of Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) dam across river Cauvery in Mysore.

When the construction cost went beyond the estimate and the project was in danger, in an act that signified rare compassion and great vision for the welfare of future generation, the Queen-regent decided to sell off her family jewelry to raise much-needed funds for the dam.

Sir M. Visvesvaraya who had envisioned the whole project eschewed import of costly Portland cement and constructed the dam with judicious mix of lime and mortar which was commissioned in 1931. At that time Queen-regent Kempananjammanni was looking after 8 year old grandson Prince Jayachama Raja Wadeyar.


Right from its birth place at Bhagamandala till it enters the Bay of Bengal through Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu Cuavery flows around 800 kms. Cauvery’s river basin is estimated around 82,000 kms irrigating and providing drinking water to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.


As it enters Srirangapatna there is a bird sanctuary, Ranganathittu where various species of birds fly here as far from Siberia during their winter months.

After Srirangapatna the river has a fall of around 100 meters at Shivanasamudra where there is a hydroelectric project to generate electricity. It was here in 1908, more than 100 years ago, electricity was generated for the first time in Asia when the king Nalvadi Krishna Raja Wadeyar switched on the power from Jaganmohan Palace to illuminate parts of Bangalore and Mysore for the first time.

Dewan of Mysore K. Seshadri Iyer and Deputy Chief Engineer of Mysore State Maj. A.J. Delotebiniere worked to harness power from Cauvery at Shivansamudra.

About 60% of the river is used for irrigation in its course. Bangalore gets 540 million liters of water every day pumped from Torekanadanahalli pump station as drinking water to the city. The capacity of KRS Reservoir is 49 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) where as Stanley reservoir at Mettur in Tamil Nadu is 93.4 TMC.


Though there is long-standing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, there is water sharing arrangement brought about by Supreme Court which is strictly adhered to by the two States under the supervision of Supreme Court.

The river enters Tamil Nadu through Dharmapuri and later the fall enters Tamil Nadu Cauvery which has a further drop at Hogenkallu Falls.
After flowing through Erode, Karur and Thiruchirapalli, it comes to Srirangam.

Then from Thanjavur, the river enters in to the final phase of Poompuhar where it enters the Bay of Bengal. Throughout its journey number of tributaries join the river both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The perennial river Cauvery finally enters Bay of Bengal at the historic place of Poompuhar thus completing her historic journey touching lives and hearts of millions along the way.
First Published: January 25, 2016, 2:18 PM IST

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