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The Kaveri River (Kannada: ಕಾವೇರಿ ನದಿ, Tamil: காவிரி ஆறு), also spelled Cauvery in English, is one of the major rivers of Indiamarker, which is considered sacred by Hindus. The origin of the river is traditionally placed at Talakaverimarker, Kodagu districtmarker in the Western Ghats in the state of Karnatakamarker, flows generally south and east through Karnatakamarker and Tamil Nadumarker and across the southern Deccan plateaumarker through the southeastern lowlands, emptying into the Bay of Bengalmarker through two principal mouths.

The Kaveri River basin is estimated to be with many tributaries including the Shimshamarker, the Hemavati Rivermarker, the Arkavathy River, Honnuhole River, Lakshmana Tirtha River, Kabini River, Bhavani Rivermarker, the Lokapavani River, the Noyyal River and the Amaravati River. Rising in southwestern Karnataka state, it flows southeast some 475 mi (765 km) to enter the Bay of Bengal. East of the city of Mysoremarker it forms the island of Shivanasamudramarker, on either side of which are the scenic Shivanasamudra Fallsmarker that descend about 320 ft (100 m). The river is the source for an extensive irrigation system and for hydroelectric power.The river has supported irrigated agriculture for centuries and served as the lifeblood of the ancient kingdoms and modern cities of South India.

River course

The river is considered to rise at Talakaverimarker in the Brahmagiri hills in Kodagumarker, though there is not a flow at this point all year round. The river Kaveri – one of the seven sacred rivers (sapta sindhu) of India – is one of the most important rivers in south India. The source occurs at a point where the Western Ghats join the Bengunad range. The Kannike, another stream which rises nearby joins Kaveri at the foot of the hill in a village named Bhagamandala. A third river, the Sujyothi, is also said to join Kaveri here, unseen. The Kaveri forms the principal drainage of Kodagu, and is already a major river when it leaves the Western Ghats near Kushalanagaramarker.

After the river leaves the Kodagu hills and flows onto the Deccan plateau, the Kabani River joins the Kaveri River at Tirumakudal Narasipur in Karnataka, it forms two islands, Srirangapatnamarker and Shivanasamudra. At Sivasamudra Island the river drops 320 ft (98 m), forming the famous Shivanasamudra Fallsmarker known separately as Gagana Chukki and Bhara Chukki. Asia's first hydroelectric plant (built in 1902) was on the left falls and supplied power to the city of Bangaloremarker.

In its course through Karnataka, the channel is interrupted by twelve "anicuts" (dams) for the purpose of irrigation. From the anicut at Madadkatte, an artificial channel is diverted at a distance of , irrigating an area of 10,000 acres (40 km²), and ultimately bringing its water supply to the town of Mandya.

Near Srirangapatnamarker, there is an aqueduct, the Bangara Doddi Nala, which was constructed in the 17th century by the Wodeyar maharaja of Mysore, Ranadhira Kantirava, in memory of his favorite consort. It is said to be the only aqueduct where the water from a river, dammed upstream, is carried by the aqueduct over the very same river few miles downstream . This aqueduct also served as a motorable bridge until 1964. In addition to providing many ancient and modern canals with water from the river for irrigation purposes, the Kaveri also serves as the main drinking water source for many towns and villages. The cities of Bangalore, Mandya and Mysore depend almost entirely on the Kaveri for their drinking water supply. In fact, the river is called Jeevanadhi which, in Kannada, means a river supporting life.

Hogenakkal Waterfalls in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu
The river enters Tamil Nadu through Dharmapuri district leading to the flat plains where it meanders. It drops into the Hogenakkal Falls just before it arrives in the town of Hogenakal in Tamil Nadu. The three minor tributaries , Palar, Chennar and Thoppar enter into the Kaveri on her course, above Stanley Reservoirmarker in Metturmarker, where the dam has been constructed. The Mettur Dammarker joins the Sita and Pala mountains beyond that valley through which the Kaveri flows, up to the Grand Anicutmarker. The dam in Mettur impounds water not only for the improvement of irrigation but also to ensure the regular and sufficient supply of water to the important Hydro-Electric generating station at Mettur. The river further runs through the length Erode district where river Bhavani, which running through the breadth of the district, merges with it. The confluence of the rivers Cauvery, Bhavani and Akash Ganga (imaginary) is at the exact place of Bhavani Kooduthurai or Tiriveni Sangamam, Northern a part of Erode City.

While passing through Erodemarker, two more tributaries merge. Noyyal and Amaravathi join it before it reaches Tiruchirapalli district. Here the river becomes wide, with a sandy bed, and flows in an easterly direction until it splits into two at upper Anicut Mukkombu about 14 kilometres west of Thiruchirappalli. The northern branch of the river is called the Coleroon or Kollidam while the southern branch retains the name Kaveri and then goes directly eastwards into Thanjavur District. These two rivers join again and form the Srirangammarker island near Tiruchirapallimarker.

Kallanai / Grand Anicut

Kallanai / Grand Anicut built by Karikala Cholan, near Tiruchirappalli
The Chola king Karikalan has been immortalised as he constructed the bank for the Kaveri all the way from Puharmarker (Kaveripoompattinam) to Srirangam. It was built as far back as 1,600 years ago or even more. On both sides of the river are found walls spreading to a distance of .

The Kallanai dam constructed by him on the border between Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur is a superb work of engineering, which was made with earth and stone and has stood the vagaries of nature for hundreds of years.

In 19th century, it was renovated on a bigger scale. The name of the historical dam has since been changed to “Grand Anicut” and stands as the head of a great irrigation system in the Thanjavur district. From this point, the Coleroon or Kollidam River runs north-east and discharges itself into the sea at Devakottaimarker, a little south of Parangipettaimarker. From river Coleroon, Manniar and Uppanai branch off at lower Anicut and irrigates a portion of Mayiladuthurai taluk and Sirkazhi taluk in Nagapatnammarker District. After Grand Anicut, the Kaveri divides into numerous branches and covers the whole of the delta with a vast network of irrigation channels in Nagapatnammarker and Tiruvarurmarker districts and gets lost in the wide expanse of paddy fields.

The mighty Kaveri river here is reduced to an insignificant channel and enters the Bay of Bengalmarker at the historical place of Poompuharmarker about 13 km north of Tharangambadimarker (or Tranquebar).


Stanley Reservoir formed by Mettur Dam
The primary uses of Kaveri are providing water for irrigation, water for household consumption and the generation of electricity.

An estimate at the time of the first Five Year Plan puts the total flow of the Kaveri at 12 million acre-feet(15 km³), of which 60% was used for irrigation.

The Torekadanahalli pumpstation sends 540 Mld (million liters per day) of water from Kaveri 100 km to Bangalore .

The water for the Kaveri is primarily supplied by monsoon rains. Dams, such as the Krishna Raja Sagara Dammarker and Mettur Dammarker, and those on its tributaries such as Banasura Sagar Dammarker project on a Kabini River tributary, store water from monsoon periods and release the water during the dry months. Even so, during the months of February-May, water levels are often quite low, and in some channels and distributaries riverbeds may become dry. Flow generally begins to increase in June or July . However, in some years when rains are light, the low river level can lead to agricultural distress in areas dependent upon the Kaveri for irrigation.

The hydroelectric plant built on the left Sivanasamudra Falls on the Kaveri in 1902 was the first hydroelectric plant in Karnataka.

The Krishna Raja Sagara Dam has a capacity of 49 tmc ft. and the Mettur Dam which creates Stanley Reservoir has a capacity of 93.4 tmc ft.(thousand million cubic ft)

In August 2003, inflow into reservoirs in Karnataka was at a 29 year low, with a 58% shortfall.. Water stored in Krishna Raja Sagara amounted to only 4.6 tmc ft..

Water sharing

A dry section of Kaveri during a drought at Tiruchirapalli
Water is addressed in the Constitution of India. The government has set up tribunals for water disputes. The Kaveri Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in June 1990 and has not concluded adjudication.Kaveri water sharing has been a major issue of contention between the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the union territory of Pondicherrymarker. A central government agency has been formed to look into this issue.

According to a study conducted by the central government in 1972, the utilisation of water from Kaveri in Tamil Nadu was 489 tmc and Karnataka's utilization was 277 tmc. With the growth in the population, Karnataka wishes to increase its utilization to 465 tmc.

The Kaveri Tribunal, in its interim award of June 1991, ordered that Karnataka should release 205 tmc of water to Tamil Nadu during one "water year" - from June to May. It also stipulated a monthly quota for flow. The Tribunal which had been investigating the issue for 16 years finally came out with the verdict on 5th of February 2007 of 419 tmc for Tamil Nadumarker, 270 tmc for Karnatakamarker, 50 tmc for Keralamarker and 7 tmc for Pondicherymarker, which both the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have contested.

Significance in Hinduism

Devotees throwing coins at Talakaveri
Talakaverimarker is a pilgrimage site set amidst Bramahagiri Hills in Kodagumarker. Thousands of piligrims flock to the three temples at the source of the river, especially on the specified day known as Tula sankramana when the river water has been said to gush out like a fountain at a predetermined time.

There are several legends about how the river Kaveri came into being. Chapters 11-14 of the Shanda purana (also known as the Kaveri purana) relate many of them. According to the most well known version, when the great ocean was churned by the devas and the asuras in order to obtain amrita, the elixir of life, Lord Vishnu created Mohini, a non-pareil of infinite charm and appeal, to distract the asuras and restore the elixir to the devas. Goddess lakshmi also sent along Lopamudre, an incarnation of Parvathi, to assist Mohini. After the elixir was successfully restored to the devas Mohini retired to Brahmagiri and turned into a rocky cave. Lopamudre was brought up by Brahma as his daughter.

After some time Kavera, a sage of renown, came to the Brahmagiri to meditate. Kavera was lonely and prayed to Lord Brahma that he might bless him with a child. Brahma was pleased by his devotion and gave him lopamudre for a daughter. Lopamudre was renamed Kaveri after the sage.

Kaveri was very keen that her father should have every happiness and prosperity in life and a blessed land full of good and happy people. So she went to the Brahmagiri too and prayed to Lord Brahma that she might turn into a river and flow through the country, pouring her blessings on the peopleand turning the land green and fertile. She also prayed that her waters might be so holy that all those who took a dip in it might be absolved of all their sins. Brahma granted her both the boons readily and Kaveri was really happy.

But something else was to happen to her first. Sage agastya happened to see Kaveri when she was deep in meditation on the Brahmagiri. He fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. Although her heart was set on turning into a river of blessings, Kaveri could not refuse agastya. But she made him promise that if ever she left her alone too long she would have the right to forsake him and go her way.Agastya promised and kept his word faithfully for some time. But one day he got busy in a theological discussion with his disciples and lost track of time. Kaveri waited patiently for a while but after some hours had passed she jumped into agastya’s special holy tank and flowed from it like a river. As soon as the disciples of agastya saw what had happened they tried to stop her from flowing away. But Kaveri promptly went underground and appeared again at Bhaganda Kshetra and flowed on toward Valambari and finally into the Bay of Bengal. And it has been worshipped as a sacred river – throughout its course – ever since.

There is yet another interesting belief according to which the river ganga also joins Kaveri underground once a year, during the Tulamasa, in order to wash herself free of the pollution caused by the crowds of sinners who bathe in her waters all the year round. Kaveri is considered to be as sacred as the ganga throughout its course, with the same power to wash off all one’s sins. But Bhagamandala, where the three rivers meet, is considered to be the most sacred spot of all. There are temples all along its banks visited by thousands of pilgrims. Kaveri is joined by several rivers, the most important ones being Kakkabe, Kadanur, Kummahole, Hemavathi, Lakshmanatirtha, Shimsha etc, it flows into the Bay of Bengal in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu.

During the month of Tula (Tamil month Ippasi), devotees take holy dip (tula snanam) in the Kavery in the pilgrim centers in its banks across the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, most prominent of them being Bhagamandalamarker. The cult of the river Goddess began in Kodagu and was centered in Bhaganda Kshetra(Bhagamandala).

The three major river islands at Kaveri have a strong Vaishnava heritage, with sculptures of Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture on the legendary seven-headed serpent (Sesha) as his celestial bed (Sheshashayana). These three temples are known as Adi Ranga, Madya Ranga, and Anthya Ranga.

On the banks of the Kaveri is the ancient temple town of Talakadmarker where the holy festival Panchalinga Darshana is held every 12 years and devotees bathe in the Kaveri River.

Towering temples built by the Chola kings, then maintained and nourished by the Vijayanagara and Maratha kings, dot the Kaveri delta. Majority of the Vaishnava Divya desam temples (those having been sung by the Alwars) and Saivite 'Paadal Petra sthalam' temples (those having been sung by thevaram trimuvariate - Appar, Sundarar and Gnanasambandar) are in the delta.

The temple town of Kumbakonam is in the Kaveri banks.

Veneration as a goddess

The Kaveri as river goddess
The legend of Kaveri has its origins in Puranas. Kaveri is linked with three puranic icons i.e Agasthya, King Kavera and Lopamudra, the earthly, feminine manifestation of Kaveri herself. It is held that Lopamudra was granted the form of a river, by Brahma, in answer to tapas performed by all the three, including herself.

Both saint Agasthya and king Kavera were independently performing tapas with salvation (Moksha) as the goal. Pleased by their tapas, Brahma appears before them only to deny both immediate Moksha. Instead, Brahma rules to Kavera that he shall beget a daughter who will lead him to Moksha; to Agasthya, Brahma says, he shall give him a divine wife; Agasthya is to live with her and enrich the world before eventually attaining Moksha. In the meantime it was said that Vishnumaya, the divine daughter of Brahma—the impeccable feminine creation of the creator, expressing to Brahma her wish to serve the world. Being pleased, Brahma ordain her to be, in due time, Lopamudra, the daughter of Kavera, then the wife of Agasthya, and eventually the sacred of the sacred, the river Kaveri.

In a slightly different version, Kaveri is regarded as the outpour of sage Agasthya's Kamandala; it is said the Lord Ganesh, assuming the form of a crow, upset Agasthya's Kamandala to release the Kaveri.

After assuming the form river, Kaveri performed another tapas to become the sacred of rivers, more sacred than even the Gangesmarker. Her tapas was answered and Lord Vishnu appears before her. On hearing her wish, Lord Vishnu says "Ganges is sacred because she originates from my feet; but you are infinitely more sacred to her as I adorn you as my garland". Upon this blessing, it is said that even Ganges is said to come underground, once a year, to Kaveri to cleanse herself. To this day, Vaishnavites regard Kaveri, the river that holds Srirangammarker in her bosom, as the most sacred of rivers. Vaishnavaites lovingly regard Kaveri as the mother of Ranganayaki, the divine consort of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam.

Bathing Ghats ("Padithurai") in the Banks of River Kaveri

River Kaveri, A View from Ayyalamman Padithurai, Tiruchirappalli (just other side of River Kaveri from Amma Mandapam, Srirangam)

The bathing ghats include
  • Amma Mandapam in Srirangam
  • Ayyalamman Padithurai, Tiruchirappalli
  • Bhagavath Padithurai in Kumbakonam
  • Chakkarai Padithurai in Kumbakonam
  • Pushya Mandapa Padithurai in Thiruvaiyaru
  • Thula Kattam in Mayavaram

“Aadi Pathinettam Perukku” and Kaveri worship at Tiruchirappalli

River Kaveri worship at Tiruchirappalli
Pooja Materials Floating on the River Kaveri

Tiruchirappalli is located at the banks of River Kaveri. Every year the “Aadi Pathinettam Perukku” festival is being celebrated on the 18th Day of Aadi, Tamil month (August).

In the South Bank of River Kaveri, the “Ayyalamman Padithuri” is there and it is just opposite to “Srirangam Amma Mandapam”, which is in the North Bank of Kaveri.

Here at “Ayyalamman Padithuri” thousands of people assemble and worship the River Kaveri. On that day Police protection is provided to manage the crowd.

At the Banks of River Kaveri, 5 to 6 family people form a group and they perform Pooja in the traditional methods, with Flowers, different kinds of Fruits, Banana, Coconut, Sugar Cane, and Rice with Sugar/Jaggery mix etc, by keeping them on the Banana Leaves.

After the Pooja, the Pooja materials, flowers etc being kept on the Banana leaves and floated on the River Kaveri while praying for the welfare of the people.


  1. BWSSB
  5. The Hindu : Karnataka / Mysore News : Corporation urged to chalk out water policy for Mysore city
  7. The Cauvery Tussle
  8. Rediff On The NeT: T V R Shenoy on Jaya's stand on Cauvery
  9. : sag

External links

  • Cauvery Presentation on the Cavery River

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