Monday, September 24, 2007

Travelogue: Cauvery

A couple of months ago, I followed Cauvery river from Karnataka to ThamizhNadu up to the point where one of its streams merged into the sea near Nagapattinam. Upstream, I went to Shivasamudra in Karnataka where the river split into two, giving rise to Gaganachuki and Barachuki waterfalls on one side and SriRangapattinam on the other. There is also a river bank not very far away from Shivasamudra, which gives you an opportunity to take bath in Cauveri. I forget the name of this place. Here, Cauvery is more wider and the drive from here to Bangalore is very scenic (A separate travelogue on this later).
Downstream in Thamizh Nadu, among many other places, I visited the majestic and incomparable Srirangam. After flowing through Hoganikkal, Cauvery forks into the beautiful island of Srirangam. The 'anaikattu'/rock (very popular and revered) that bifurcates Cauvery was built/found/placed close to 2000 years ago. One part of the forked river is called Kollidam and this part merges into Bay of Bengal near Nagapattinam (the other flows into the sea near Cuddalore). 'Anaikattu' and dams are built to facilitate irrigation. Once into Thamizh Nadu Cauvery splits into several tributaries. I had a good grasp of them a month ago. Now I forget. Suffice to say Thanjavur delta formed near the island of Srirangam, is one of the richest Cauvery banks for irrigation. When I was at Srirangam there was lot of buzz about Cauvery water getting released from the dam, the next day. It got released the next day and I was near Lalgudi to witness Cauvery water flow into the dry river beds. There were about 300 government offiicials present to witness this. I was surprised to see no politician there. Watching the water gush and flow was quite a sight. When I drove to Kumbakonam, Sirgazhi, and Mayavaram there were some moments where we were overtaking the water flow and and some when we were lagging behind it. Quite thrilling.
Some interesting facts (from what the locals said) I learned about Cauvery was 1/3rd of it flows in Karnataka and 2/3rds in ThamizhNadu. About 80% of the water is wasted and not used for any useful agricultural activity (Unverified - and I would be dissapointed if it is true). Since the water is not stored in a dam beyond Srirangam, whatever seeps into the ground and canals is what is used for irrigation. Everything else just flows into the sea. It is easy to call for construction of another dam but I'll desist from judging until I know better. When you see the water flow, the first wave of water has green/brown patches on top of it. Many people who don't know what it is, play with it and potentially die as a result. These patches are "snake nests". Snakes build homes on the river when it is dry and these nests are washed away when water flows. The green/brown patches are sometimes whole snake pits with live snakes.
The emotional attachment that the people of the land attach to the river has to be simply seen to be believed. I had the genuine pleasure of following the river quite literally only a few days after following a major part of ThamaraiBharani.


I said...

Karnataka has to be conquered by Tamil nadu, all the dvaitha infidels taken prisoners and cauvery damn destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bharath,

An interesting travelogue & the idea of exploring the path of the river is unique too!

If you have added few snaps, it would have added more beauty :)

Anand said...

Some nits to pick. Sorry!
The Kollidam is the northern "distributary" of the Cauvery. There are hardly any tributaries to the Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. Also, the Kollidam cannot empty into the sea at Nagapattinam, which is very much south of Poompuhar (the mouth of the Cauvery). The Kollidam's mouth is in pichavaram near Chidamabaram.
The Grand Anaicut (கல்லணை)is at the Eastern tip (i.e. the "bottom" end) of the Srirangam island. The Cauvery splits into two at the top of the island at Mukkombu (You can reach the place if you travel from Tollgate on the Bangalore/Musiri route). The Kollidam in fact is the larger of the two streams emerging at the dams at the bottom of Srirangam island. The cauvery in fact is quite quickly divvied-up into little streams and channels that irrigate the delta region. The river at Kumbakonam is in fact the Kudamurutti, and is not called Cauvery. Pictures of the lot here:
Cheers dude!

Anand said...

Yeah! and BTW, in the olden times before Krishnarajasagar and Stanley reservoir, Kallanai was created to make sure the Cauvery and its branches do not flood. The broad Kollidam, therefore was meant as the KoL idam, to hold the excess water. The reason for the river to pretty much run dry is because at kallanai, all the meagre water that runs in the Cauvery until that point is channelled to the southern branch for irrigation.
Also BTW, because so much water is taken up for the delta paddy that near its mouth, the Cauvery is called the ஆடு தாண்டு. Supposedly even a goat can cross it. Very little of the Cauvery runs into the sea in a normal year.

I said...

ebba andu, class-e eduppa polarikke utta.

Anand said...

Ayya 'i'. Ithu enga oorappathina vishayam. Class eduthuthaan aaganum!

Karthik Sriram said...

//Some interesting facts (from what the locals said) I learned about Cauvery was 1/3rd of it flows in Karnataka and 2/3rds in ThamizhNadu.//

Perhaps length-wise yes, but volume of flow wise, it may be the other way around.

And Anand, that was a very crisp and precise cauvery geography u've provided us with - so ungalukku endha ooru? Me from malliyam - and there is a small branch of cauvery which flows some 1km away from my home :)


Anand said...

Karthik, thanks! My paternal grandfather's side of the family comes from Sirugambur, a kilometre on the Musiri-Tollgate road from Mukkombu.

I said...

Oh so you are not thanjavur vadama? ada paavame.

Anand said...

i: I am Thanjavur vadama on my mother's side. In fact both my mom's parents are from the Thanjavur/Mayavaram belt! Ippa intha postukkum ennoda family tree'kkum enna sambantham... naanum poi unakku explain vera pandren! Che!

I said...

apdi podu. see I knew! namabalavala appo appo kandukanum, samandhan irukko illayo.

Hawkeye said...


madhavachariar un kanna kutha


thanks. see below. Avar anand has snaps


danks ba! It was my mistake to have write the post purely from memory. I remember seeing kollidams mouth enroute from Thirunaangur to Nagai. I think it coincides with what you say. Let me check.

the photos were awesome. Thanks. I shall correct my post to reflect what you said. Also I called all the cauvery branches cauvery without instantiating them with their local names.


Anand comment'a padikarche, I got a feeling that cho was talking to me. Maybe its a photo but the voice that played those words in my head was cho's voice.


I meant the length wonly. Yes! anand'naala namakku knowledge.

I said...

adi shankara will defend me.