Godavari is the second longest river in India however it is the longest river in Maharashtra. It is flowing west to east for approximately 1465 kilometres (910 miles). It stands second to Ganga, which has a length of 2525 kilometres (1569 miles). Though Godavari is the second longest river flowing within India, technically it stands fourth in terms of length of rivers flowing through India.

Brahmaputra is the longest river flowing through India with a total length of 3848 kilometres (2390 miles), but a major length of Brahmaputra serves China and Bangladesh with only a portion of it flowing through the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. Indus is the second longest river flowing through India having a total length of 3610 kilometres (2243 miles), but major parts of Indus flow through Pakistan and China. The flow of these longest rivers outside India makes Godavari the second longest river with a length of 1465 Km (910 miles) after Ganga, flowing within Indian boundary.

Interesting Facts about Godavari River

  • Godavari is the second longest river flowing within India, after Ganga.
  • Godavari has its source in Triambakeshwar, Maharashtra in Brahmagiri Mountain range of Western Ghats.
  • Though the River originates just 80 Kms from Arabian Sea in West coast, it traverses all the way through central and South East India to drain in the Bay of Bengal in East.
  • The River has a total length of 1465 Km (910 miles).
  • It has a total catchment area of 312812 sq Km, which is larger than both England and Ireland put together.
  • Godavari forms one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent with only Ganges and Indus having larger basins.
  • It is also called ‘Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘Ganga of the South’ and supports 729 persons/sq km.
  • The river has an extensive network of tributaries, with nine draining on its left bank and seven on its right bank.
  • Manjira is the longest tributary of Godavari with a length of 724 Kms.
  • Annual average water inflow of Godavari is 110 billion cubic metres.
  • Nearly 50% of the water is harnessed.
  • The allocation of water among the states is governed by ‘Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal’.
  • Highest recorded flood flow in India in 1986 (3.6 million cusecs).
  • Normal annual flood flow of 1 million cusecs.
  • ‘Kalsubai’ located in Godavari, is the highest peak in Maharashtra.
  • It supports Asia’s largest lift irrigation project with Vishnupuri Dam in Nanded.
  • Before ending its course with Maharashtra, Godavari runs into controversial Babhali reservoir project, which is a matter of dispute between Maharashtra and Telangana.
  • Godavari forms state boundary which separates Mancherial (in Telangana) and Gadchiroli (in Maharashtra).
  • Arma Konda or Jindhagada peak (5510 ft) at Paderu in Andhra Pradesh is the highest peak in the Godavari river basin.
  • Godavari river basin provides undisturbed wildlife range between Tadoba in Maharashtra and Pench in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The river basin is also a nesting ground for endangered ‘Olive Ridley Sea Turtle’.
  • Godavari delta has the second largest mangrove formation in India- ‘Coringa Mangrove Forests’.
  • Godavari river basin has one of the highest waterfalls in southern India- Duduma waterfalls (175 metres) located on Sileru River, forms a boundary between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Godavari River basin in India has many numbers of dams than any other river basin.
  • It is the source of rich mineral like- Oil, Coal, Manganese, Copper, Bauxite, Laterite, Lime-stone, Granite etc.

 

Origin of Godavari

It has its origin in the Western Ghats of central India, located near Nasik in the Maharashtra (80 Km from the Arabian Sea). Western Ghats run through the west coast of Indian peninsula and is also called Sahyadri mountain range running entirely through India. It is also an UNESCO world heritage site. Godavari originates in Trimbakeshwar near Nasik in the mountains of Brahmagiri hills, a part of Sahyadri mountain range. Godavari is a peninsular river, meaning that it has its origins from an underground water source and its a seasonal river largely depending on the rainfall for its flow. Godavari is also called as ‘Vridha Ganga’ probably because it is the oldest river in India, despite being called ‘Ganges of the South’ or ‘Dakshina Ganga’. River Ahilya also originating in Trimbakeshwar flows into Godavari in front of Trimbakeshwar temple.

The Flow of Godavari

From its origin in the Trimbakeshwar, Godavari flows east through Deccan plateau passing through Central Maharashtra. It then enters the Telangana state in the Northwest district of Nizamabad and continues to flow bordering some part of Madhya Pradesh in a large valley. The river then turns south into the state of Andhra Pradesh, where it splits into two streams just after Rajahmundry widening into a large river delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Godavari has a catchment area of 312812 sq Km (120777 miles) draining Maharashtra (48.6%), Telangana (18.8%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%), Madhya Pradesh (10%), Odisha (5.7%), Karnataka (1.4%) and Puducherry (Yanam).

During the whole course of its flow the Godavari and its tributaries support irrigation and other needs of thousands of sq. km of area. It supports numerous irrigation projects and dams in the states it passes through, earning it the name- ‘Lifeline of Southern India’.

Tributaries of Godavari

Godavari river basin is supported by an extensive network of tributaries. There are at least 14 major tributaries of Godavari. We will go through few major tributaries of Godavari in the decreasing order of their length.

 

  • Manjira (724 KM)

Manjira originates near the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra in the Balaghat range of hills at an altitude of 823 mtrs (2700 ft). Manjira is fed by six major tributaries before emptying into the right bank of Godavari.

  • Pranhita (721 KM)

The Pranhita is a major tributary of the Godavari. It is fed from the waters of Penganga (676 Km), Wardha (483 Km) and Wainganga (580 Km) before falling into the left bank of Godavari.

  • Indravati (535 KM)

The Indravati originates in the Western slopes of Eastern Ghats, passes through a large Catchment area in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha before joining Godavari on its left bank. Major Tributaries of Indarvati are Narangi, Kotari and Nibra.

  • Sabari (428 KM)

Sabari has two major tributaries- Machkund and Sileru. They originate at an altitude of 1220 Mtrs. above the confluence of Kolab and Godavari. Sabari joins Godavari on its left bank.

  • Purna (373 KM)

The Purna originates in Ajanta Hills and empties into the left bank of Godavari. Major tributaries Of Purna are Man, Uma, Katepurna and Nirguna.

Mythology of Origin

The river has a sacred place in Hindu religion and an interesting story associated with its origin. It is believed that Sage Gautama, mind born son of Brahma was engaged in a deep meditation (tapasya) in the Brahmagiri Hills, praying to Varuna the Ocean God asking him for rains, to end a 100 year drought in the region. Varuna declined his request saying that it will displease the other Gods.

Gautam then requested Varuna to find out a way to end the drought without offending other deities. Varuna asked Gautama to dig a pit and he then filled the pit with water. Gautama and other sages started using the water for cultivation and other purposes. One day the disciples of Sage Gautama were stopped by the wives of other sages, who wanted to collect water first. Knowing about the incident, Gautama’s wife Ahilya went to the pond and took water before everyone. This enraged other sages who prayed to Lord Ganesha for taking revenge. Ganesha appeared and initially tried to pacify them stating that they should not harm someone who has helped them by providing water. But the sages were adamant in their persuasion and requested Ganesha to force Gautama to leave his hermitage.

At last Ganesha conceded to their demands and took form of a feeble cow and started eating the crop of Gautama. In order to drive away the cow, Gautama took some blades of grass and threw them at the feeble cow. But to his surprise the cow dropped dead. Gautama was shocked and deeply regretted his action as ‘Gau Hatya’ was supreme sin according to the Hindu religion. Then he left his hermitage with his wife and started circling the Brahmgiri mountain range as an act of retribution to the sin he had committed.

He confessed the sin to everyone he met and made Shiva Lingams to worship Shiva. Finally Shiva appeared before Gautama and the latter asked to be made sinless. Shiva laughed and told him that he has not committed any sin and that it was part of a plan by other sages to take revenge on him. Consequently Gautama asked Shiva for Ganga to be brought here so that he and others can get rid of their sins.

Ganga agreed to stay there provided Shiva also stayed with her. So Shiva manifested himself as Triambakeshwar- meaning the three eyed Lord. Godavari was also known as Gautami and sage Gautam and his disciples used to get rid of their sins by bathing in it. Initially Ganga was reluctant in purifying the sages who were cruel to Gautama, but on Gautama’s insistence she conceded and Gautama dig a ditch for her to emerge from and purify the sages of their sins. That ditch is the sacred Kushavartha Thirtha at Trimbakeshwar temple.

Flora and Fauna

Godavari river basin supports significant forest reserves in Central India, mainly in the states of Maharastra and Chhattisgarh. Wainganga a major tributary of Godavari is the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle book’. Wainganga river basin supports two important forests- Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra and Pench in Madhya Pradesh along with several other wildlife parks supporting a number of endangered species like- Tigers, Elephants, Bears, Hyenas, Black Bucks etc. The Basin is actually a link between main tiger corridors- Kanha, Satpuda, Pench, Melghat, Navegaon-Nagzira, Bor and Tadoba tiger reserves. It provides a large and undisturbed landscape for the wildlife as well as fauna. The basin also has Jayakvadi Bird Sanctuary located along the back waters of Nathsagar reservoir.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

You can get answer of your questions related to this topic, here:

Which river is known as the ‘Dakshin Bharat ki Ganga’ or Ganga of the South and why?

Godavari River is known as ‘Dakshin Bharat ki Ganga’, meaning the Ganga of the South. Initially it was also called ‘Gautami’. It is called the Ganga of the South as it is mythologically believed to be the manifestation of real Ganga and having originated from the hair tuft of Lord Shiva manifested as Lord Triambakeshwar. It is considered a sacred river in Hindu religion and whoever bathes in Godavari is believed to get rid of his sins just like as it is believed with Ganges of the North.

What is length of River Godavari?

Godavari is the second longest river in India with a total flowing length of 1465 Kilometres (910 miles).

Where is the origin and source of the River Godavari?

Godavari originates in the Western Ghats of central India, near Nasik in the state of Maharashtra, 80 Kms from Arabian Sea. Godavari starts its journey from the Brahmagiri Mountains in Trimbakeshwar (one of the 12 Jyotirlings of Lord Shiva).

The Godavari is a peninsular river deriving its flow mainly from rain and underground reserves.

Which main rivers flow into the River Godavari?

Some of the main tributaries of Godavari are- Manjira, Pranhita, Indravati, Sabari and Purna.

From how many states does the Godavari River flow through?

Godavari River flows through the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

What is the total catchment area of Godavari?

Godavari has a total catchment area of 312812 sq Km draining the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry.

Which sea does Godavari River drains into?

Godavari drains into the Bay of Bengal near Narasapuram between Kakinada and Machillipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Where Godavari River does enters Telangana?

Godavari enters Telangana near Basar in the Adilabad district.

Which Telangana district does Godavari divides?

Godavari divides the districts of Nizamabad and Karimnagar to the South and Adilabad to the North.

Why is the Godavari River important?

The river is profoundly honoured in many Hindu scriptures. Apart from religious significance Godavari also has ecological importance as it supports huge bio diversity and a large catchment area of 312812 sq Kms. The River Delta supports 729 persons/sq km.

What else did the Godavari River provide?

From sustaining the sugarcane cultivation belt of Western Maharashtra to arid dry area of Vidarbha before entering the rich cultivation land of Telangana and Andhra, Godavari is the life line of south. Apart from the agricultural significance, Godavari also supports huge ecology with significant forests in Central India.

How many dams are built on Godavari River?

There are seven major dams build on Godavari including- Upper Vaitarna Reservoir, Vishnupuri Barrage, Ghatghar Dam, Jayakwadi Dam, Sri Ram Sagar Dam, Gangapur Dam, and Dowleshwaram Barrage.

 

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Which is the longest river in Maharashtra?