5 Largest Indian Dams (By Reservoir Capacity)

by Sankalan Baidya
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India switched from being a industry-major economy post-independence to an agriculture-major economy after a very long time (to be precise, in 2002). However, history of agriculture in India goes back to pre-Indus Valley Civilization.

Agriculture has always been vital for India and in the modern times, dams play a very vital role in sustainable agricultural growth. In this article on largest Indian dams, we will look into 5 of the biggest dams in India in terms of reservoir capacity.

These dams that we mention here are not only marvels of engineering but are also stunning and beautiful. So, let us begin…

Largest Indian Dams: Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

Built on Krishna river in Telangana, the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam was one of the earliest infrastructure projects taken up by India for the purpose of achieving Green Revolution.

There is no hint of doubt that the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is an engineering marvel that shows human’s triumph over nature.

However, the sad part is that when the dam was built, Nagarjunakonda – an ancient Buddhist settlement and the capital of Ikshvaku dynasty during 1st century and 2nd century – was totally submerged.

Good news however is that before the reservoir was flooded, several monuments and historical artifacts were dug up and relocated to safety.

This masonry dam creates a lake called Nagarjuna Sagar, which is world’s largest man-made lake. Here are some nifty details about the dam…

Largest Indian Dams
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam
LocationTelangana
StatusOperational Dam
Construction started in1955
Dam opened in1967
Cost of construction132.32 crore rupees
Type of DamMasonry Dam
Height of the Dam124 meters from river level
Length of the Dam1,550 meters
Reservoir capacity9,371,845 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply

Largest Indian Dams: Sardar Sarovar Dam

One of the largest dams in whole world, Sardar Sarovar Dam is one of the most special dams in India. Its foundation stone was laid down in 1961 and was supposed to be funded by World Bank.

The funding was withdrawn by World Bank in 1994 because of some environmental controversies that started since late 80’s. India eventually did not take any monetary aid and completed the project on her own.

The dam was inaugurated on September 17, 2017 by our present Prime Minister – Narendra Modi. It is one of the 30 dams that have been planned on river Narmada and is the largest dam on Narmada river. As of today, the dam provides electricity and water to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

The dam has been designed for irrigating 18,000 square kilometers of land in drought prone Saurashtra and Kutch. The power station of the dam is capable of generating 1,450 MW of electricity. It is an engineering marvel. Here are some nifty details about the dam…

Largest Indian Dams
Narmada Dam or Sardar Sarovar Dam
LocationState: Gujarat
StatusOperational Dam
Foundation stone laid in1961
Dam opened in2017
Cost of constructionApproximately 60,000 crores
Type of DamGravity Dam, Concrete
Height of the Dam138.68 meters (163 meters including foundation)
Length of the Dam1,210 meters or 3,970 feet
Reservoir Capacity7,701,775 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply

Note: Sardar Sarovar Dam is also known as Narmada Dam and is the second largest dam in world only to be beaten by Grand Coulee Dam of United States.

Largest Indian Dams: Bhakra Dam

Built upon Himachal Pradesh’s Sutlej river, the Bhakra Dam is one of the most well-known dams in whole of India. The reservoir formed by the dam is known as Gobind Sagar.

The reservoir is 90 kilometers long spreading over total area of 168.35 square kilometers. It is the third largest reservoir in India. At 741 feet, the Bhakra Nangal Dam is world’s one of the highest gravity dams.

Here are some of the important pieces of information about the dam…

Largest Indian Dams
Bhakra Dam
LocationState: Himachal Pradesh
StatusOperational Dam
Construction began in1948
Dam opened in1963
Cost of construction245.28 crore rupees in 1963
Type of DamGravity Dam, Concrete
Height of the Dam741 meters
Length of the Dam520 meters or 1,700 feet
Reservoir Capacity7,501,775 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply

Largest Indian Dams: Hirakud Dam

Standing tall and proud on Mahanadi River, the Hirakud Dam in Orissa is one of world’s longest dams that stretches over 25.8 kilometers in length. The reservoir created by the dam is known as Hirakud Reservoir and it is 55 kilometers long. This is a multipurpose dam designed for irrigation, hydroelectricity production and flood control. There are two observation towers atop this dam, which are known as Nehru Tower and Gandhi Tower. Here are some interesting details about the dam…

Largest Indian Dams
Hirakud Dam
LocationState: Orissa
StatusOperational Dam
Construction began in1948
Dam opened in1957
Cost of construction1.01 billion rupees in 1957
Type of DamComposite Dam
Height of the Dam60.96 meters
Length of the Dam25.8 kilometers
Reservoir Capacity4,779,965 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply, Flood Control

Largest Indian Dams: Tehri Dam

This is yet another famous dam of India that sits atop Bhagirathi River near Tehri in Uttarakhand. It is one of the major tourist attractions of India for people from all over the world. It’s phase I was completed in 2006 but the remaining two phases are still in construction. It is India’s highest dam and one of the highest dams in world. The most important purposes of the dam are electricity production, supply of municipal water and irrigation. Here are some of the most interesting data on the dam…

Largest Indian Dams
Tehri Dam
LocationState: Uttarakhand
StatusOperational Dam
Construction began in1978
Dam opened in2006 (Phase I)
Cost of constructionUSD 1 billion
Type of DamEmbankment Dam made of Earth and Rock-Fill.
Height of the Dam260.5 meters
Length of the Dam575 meters or 1,886 feet
Reservoir Capacity2,100,000 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply

That completes our list of largest Indian dams in terms of reservoir capacity. However, before we end our article, we will like to mention two really popular dams in India. Here you go…

Largest Indian Dams: Maithon Dam

From Dhanbad in Jharkhan, the Maithon Dam sits at a distance of 48 kilometers. Constructed on top of Barakar River, this dam has one fascinating feature. It has an underground power station, which was the first of its kind in South East Asia.

Owned by Damodar Valley Corporation, the Maithon Dam is responsible for creating the famous Maithon Lake, which has a total surface area of 65 square kilometers. Maithon is one of the largest dams in whole of India. Here are some nifty details of the dam:

Largest Indian Dams
Maithon Dam
LocationDistrict: Dhanbad, State: Jharkhand
StatusOperational Dam
Construction started in1951
Dam opened in1957
Cost of construction89 crore rupees
Type of DamConcrete cum earthen dam
Height of the Dam165 feet or 50 meters
Length of the Dam15,712 feet or 4,789 meter
Reservoir Capacity60 MW
Purpose of the DamFlood control, power production, irrigation, water supply, drainage and navigation

Largest Indian Dams: Krishna Raja Sagara Dam

It usually goes by the name KRS. Krishna Raja Sagara is the name of both the dam and the lake. The lake itself is made by the dam.

Located in Karnataka, this dam has been constructed close to Krishnarajasagara settlement. The exact location of the dam is at the confluence of Kaveri river and its tributary rivers – Lakshmana Tirtha and Hemavati.

The dam has an attached garden that goes by the name ‘Brindavana Gardens’. This particular garden has become popular as one of the most beautiful gardens in whole of Indian subcontinent. Here are some nifty details of the dam:

Largest Indian Dams
Krishna Raja Sagar Dam
LocationDistrict: Mandya, State: Karnataka
StatusOperational Dam
Construction started in1911
Dam opened in1938
Cost of construction10.34 million Indian rupees
Type of DamGravity Dam
Height of the Dam131 feet or 39.8 meters
Length of the Dam8,600 feet or 2,620 meters
Reservoir capacity1,109,742 acre·ft
Purpose of the DamPower, Irrigation and Water Supply

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

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