The Hirakud Dam is built across the Mahanadi River. Its construction began in the year 1948 and was inaugurated in the year 1957. The dam is situated 15km away from Sambalpur, Odisha. The district of Sambalpur lies in the Mahanadi River basin. The Hirakud Dam is a composite dam and also a reservoir. The construction of this dam was followed before the devastation floods of 1936.
The Mahanadi River flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. It has a total course of 858 kilometers. Eventually propositions were made to use the vast waters of Mahanadi. Hence came the proposition for construction of Hirakud Dam. Today the Mahanadi River is known for its marvelous Hirakud Dam. It is also a famous tourist spot.
More about the Hirakud Dam
The main purpose of construction of this Hirakud Dam was tackle the problem of droughts in the upper drainage basin of the Mahanadi River and the problem of floods in its lower delta region. On one hands droughts caused loss of life and chaos and floods led to destruction of crops. So, with the construction of the Hirakud dam these problems were alleviated as the dam acted as a water reservoir and a drainage system. There are several hydroelectric plants installed in the dam which help in generation of electricity. The Hirakud Dam is responsible for providing electricity in most of the places in Bhubaneswar.
There are two observation towers on each side of the dam. One of them is known as the ‘Nehru Tower’ and the other one is known as the ‘Gandhi Tower’. Both these towers provide a spectacular view of the river.
Before the construction of this dam there was indeed loss of life and property but its construction also caused havoc among the natives of the place. Nearly 150,000 people were displaced from the place and were compensated well.
A commemorative stamp on Hirakud Dam was released on 29th Oct 1979 by the department of Posts. A hundred rupee note also released in the year 1967.
History behind the construction of the Hirakud Dam
The problem of floods in the Mahanadi delta as addressed by Sir M. Visveswararya led to the construction of the Hirakud Dam. Then eventually the Mahanadi basis was proposed to be put to multipurpose use. The Hirakud Dam not only acts as a reservoir and a flood control system but it has got hydroelectricity plants in which generate electricity. The waters of the dam is used for irrigation purposes too.
The foundation stone of the Hirakud Dam laid by the Governor of Odisha, Sir Hawthorne Lewis on 15th March 1946. This was followed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laying the first batch of concrete in the year 1948. The whereabouts of the process of construction of the dam was administered by the Mazumdar Committee. The Committee was set up in the year 1952.
The dam completed in the year 1953 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th Jan 1957.
In the year 1966 the Hirakud Dam started functioning to its full potential.
Hirakud Dam: A multipurpose Dam
The Hirakud Dam is so pronounced now that the River Mahanadi is known by this dam. Water storage and flood control were the main objectives for the construction of this dam.
The dam has three canal systems too. These are Bargarh Main Canal, Sason Canal and Sambalpur Canal. Water from the main reservoir is diverted into these canals which is used for irrigation purposes.
But siltation has led to the reduction of the water holding capacity of the dam. The water from this dam was allocated to various industries too. Mineral processing is one such purpose for which the water of this dam was used.
In addition to all this the dam is a home to wildlife too. Various birds can be spotted in here. Some of these include red-crested pochard, great crested grebe and several migratory birds which visit the reservoir during winters.
The dam offers another spectacular sight. The remnants of ancient temples can be seen emerging from the dam during summers when the water from the reservoir recedes. 200 temples or more were submerged by the dam and some of them have either perished or are under water. Around 50 of them are visible during summers. These temples have caught the eye of historians too and are being studied. Visitors can sight these temples during the months of May and June only. It is thus an attractive tourist spot.
Hirakud Dam: A Tourist Spot
As mentioned above the dam experiences a huge influx of visitors who come to see the submerged temples. Boating is a very popular trend here. Visitors take boat rides and dwell in the serenity of the dam.
Cattle Island is a complete natural wonder present here. As the name suggests the island is inhabited by untamed animals or wildlife. The construction of the Hirakud Dam had led to the relocation of villages. The island is a submerged hilltop. With the passing of time this hilltop got surrounded water and got converted into an island. Thus the cattle that were left behind, now have increased in numbers and inhabit the island. Many villagers try to capture these animals from time to time. But most of their attempts prove to be unsuccessful.
The Debigarh Wildlife Sanctuary is located here. It is a home to an immense array of biodiversity. It is fringed on the east and north by the Hirakud Dam. As a result of which it is home to both aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. It has emerged as a popular tourist destination. Winters are more crowded here than summers. One can find motor boats to move from one place to another in the adjoining water bodies. Accommodation within the sanctuary is also available. The sanctuary gives a wholesome experience to the tourists. Staying in a natural setting is the biggest attraction these days for city dwellers.
A Tourist’s Guide to Hirakud Dam
Hirakud Dam is 12km away from Railway Station Hirakud. Public transport is easily available. One can also find a range of hotels in the city of Hirakud. It is a great flourishing city and has every bit of comfort needed by a traveler. The best time to visit this place is between September to March. The nearest airport is Raipur Airport. There is no entry fee and it is open throughout the day.
Debigarh Wildlife Sanctuary is open on all days of the week from 6am to 4pm. It is the best destination for nature lovers. One can book eco-tourism cottages within the sanctuary. There is also the provision of hiring vehicles for easy conveyance. The sanctuary is near the Sambalpur Railway Station. One can even book a hotel in Sambalpur, check-in and go on a tour to the sanctuary and the dam.
The Hirakud Dam has a lot in store for travelers and nature lovers.