12 Magnificent Dams in India

By Aaditee Kulkarni on Jul 31, 2017
* Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and book something (there is never any extra cost to you for using these links).

Remember how we learned about the dams in school? Well, I always found the dams to be extremely fascinating; with their huge, well-built walls and waters flowing through gates supplying the oh-so essential water to the people living the surrounding areas. India is called the ‘Land of Many Rivers’ and agriculture is one of the most prominent occupations here. India has over 4000 dams, built on various rivers, tributaries, natural lakes and reservoirs. The reasons for the building of these dams are many; power generation, aquaculture, industrial usage, supplying drinking water, irrigation, and rain catchment among a few others. These huge and mighty structures stand tall, serving people and bringing them closer. Let’s have a look at a few of them in the subsequent paragraphs. 

While each one of it is unique in its own way, some of these dams have proven to be great examples of engineering marvels, impounding many great rivers of India. Want to check them out? Scroll down and find some of the best dams in India you can visit. 

1. Tehri Dam, Uttarakhand

The highest one in India, Tehri Dam is constructed over the Bhagirathi and Bhilangana rivers near Tehri Garhwal in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Tehri Dam is a multi-purpose rock and earth-filled artificial dam that stands tall at a little over 260 metres. Considered the 5th tallest dam in the world, this dam adds to the beauty of the surrounding mountains, bridging the gap between the natural and man-made. Being one of the biggest hydroelectric projects in the world, Tehri Dam is a prime example of meticulous workmanship.

A ten hours’ drive from New Delhi, will take you through Haridwar and Rishikesh, to reach Tehri. The road leading up to the dam is a quite scenic one and passes through many curvy mountains. You can park your car and set up a picnic in the nearby areas of the dam while enjoying the fascinating views of the dam. 

  • Height: 260.5 metres (855 feet)
  • Length: 575 metres (1,886 feet) 
  • Purpose: Hydroelectricity generation

Organize your travel. Personalize your itinerary with TripHobo.

2. Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Andhra Pradesh

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nagarjuna Sagar Dam stands on the Krishna River, on the borders of the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. India’s largest masonry dam, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam was constructed in stone instead of concrete and was termed as one of the important factors that initiated the ‘Green Revolution’ in India. The dam supplies water for the purpose of irrigation to the nearby towns of Nalgonda and Guntur.

This dam is located at a distance of 150 kilometres from Hyderabad and a drive to this dam will let you enjoy many scenic spots on the way. You can make a quick stop on the highway for a cup of tea and also eat at a roadside Dhaba. The first views of this massive dam look extremely captivating against the backdrops of green mountains. There is a staircase that takes you right up to the bank of the reservoir. You can spot many birds here like the eagle, green bee-eaters, sunbirds, and Indian silver-bills. There are a few basic guest houses located close to the dam where you can choose to stay overnight. The dam looks even more beautiful during the night as the lights from the dam beautifully reflection in its waters. 

  • Height: 124 metres (407 feet)
  • Length: 1,550 metres (5,085 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Power generation. 

3. The Bhakra – Nangal Dam, Himachal Pradesh

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Bhakra - Nangal Dam is the world’s highest straight gravity dam and is built over River Sutlej. The fourth largest in India, this dam was referred to as the "New Temple of Resurgent India" by Jawaharlal Nehru. The Bhakra Nangal Dam is situated on the borders of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and provides water for the purpose of irrigation to the nearby areas. This V-shaped dam is also used for the purpose of electricity generation with ten power generators located here. The dam’s reservoir is called Gobind Sagar which is home to Mahseer, an endangered species of fish. This reservoir is 95 kilometres long and adds to the beauty of the dam.

Activities like boating, water skiing, kayaking, and sailing are available here. You can take a ropeway ride to the Naina Devi temple located on the hill overlooking the Gobind Sagar. The nearby park makes up for a perfect picnic site. To visit the dam, you are would be required to obtain the permission from the PRO of the Nangal township who would issue you a red pass. A white pass is required to use the elevators of the dam. Photography is strictly prohibited at the Bhakra Nangal Dam. 

  • Height: 226 metres (741 feet)
  • Length: 520 metres (1,700 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Electricity generation, Fishing

4. Hirakud Dam, Odisha

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hirakud Dam is located in the state of Odisha and takes pride in being one of the longest man-made dams ever constructed. The main section of the dam extends 4.8 kilometres while the entire dam runs longer than 25 kilometres. Behind this is a 55 kilometres artificial, multipurpose lake called the Hirakud Reservoir. This massive dam was built in 1956 and is a brilliant example of the post-independence development process in India.

A major crowd-puller, this dam and its reservoir is home to some amazing flora and fauna in the region. The nearby Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary houses many species of migratory birds like the Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Great Crested Grebe. The nearby Ghanteshwari Temple is a must-visit while visiting the Hirakud Dam. Situated at a distance of 290 kilometres from the Odia capital of Bhubaneshwar, a visit to this dam makes for a perfect weekend getaway

  • Height: 60.96 metres (200 feet)
  • Length: 25.8 kilometres (entire dam)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Hydroelectricity generation, Fishing, Water Storage. 

5. Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujarat 

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Located along the mighty Narmada River in the Indian state of Gujarat, Sardar Sarovar Dam is a large gravity dam. This dam is a largest of the 30 dams planned on river Narmada as a part of a large hydraulic engineering project. An upcoming project at the Sardar Sarovar Dam includes generation of solar power by placing large solar panels over the dam’s canal. Considered to be one of the most controversial dams in the Indian history, this dam was primarily built to provide water to the drought hit areas of Saurashtra and Kutch.

Visit Sardar Sarovar dam during the monsoon to see the dam water unleash its full glory. The meandering Narmada river, milky waterfalls and long stretches of green mountains will leave you gasping! Situated inside the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, this dam is a major tourist attraction. Enjoy a picnic at the nearby garden with hot samosas and dhoklas while listening to the gushing sounds of the water.   

  • Height: 163 metres (535 feet)
  • Length: 1,210 kilometres (3,970 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Hydroelectricity generation, Fishing, Water Storage

Check Out: Weekend Getaways near Ahmedabad

6. Mettur Dam, Tamil Nadu 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mettur dam was built across the River Cauvery by the British in 1934 and is one of the oldest, pre-independence dams in India. Previously known as Stanley Reservoir, this is the biggest dam in Tamil Nadu. The water retained by the dam is used for irrigation and is supplied regularly to the various farmlands of Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur.  

A large hydroelectric power project is located here along with a picnic park. The water flowing upstream from the dam gives rise to the Hogenakal Falls. Also present here is the Stanley Reservoir which is one of the biggest fishing reservoirs in Southern India. Mettur Dam has been in news recently over the Kaveri water dispute between the States of Tamilnadu and Karnataka.  

  • Height: 37 metres (120 feet)
  • Length: 1,700 metres (5,600 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Water Storage

Must Visit: Waterfalls in Tamil Nadu

7. Tungabhadra dam, Karnataka

The largest dam in Karnataka, visit Tungabhadra dam during the monsoons and get a chance to witness its magnificence when all its 33 gates are opened to release water. Built on the Tungabhadra River, this multi-purpose dam is a major tourist attraction.

The nearby Japanese Gardens add to the beauty of this dam. You can walk through the gardens and enjoy the musical fountains at night. The dam looks even more beautiful when viewed during the night with its illuminated walls and gates. The government plans to install pumped-storage hydroelectricity units at the Tungabhadra Dam which will divert water to meet with the increasing water needs of the Bengaluru.

  • Height: 49.50 metres (162 feet)
  • Length: 2,449 metres (8,035 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Water Storage

8. Idukki Dam, Kerala

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Standing tall between the Kuravanmala and Kurathimala mountains, Idukki dam is a curved arch dam. In technical terms, the dam shape is said to be concrete, double curvature parabolic, thin arc dam. Built by the Kerala State Electricity Board, this dam is built to support a large hydroelectric power station. This dam is Asia’s biggest arch dam and looks absolutely beautiful being nestled between velvety green valleys.

A well-known tourist spot, the nearby Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary adds to the charm of this place. Many species of wildlife animals can be found here like the sambar, deer, elephants, jungle cats, wild boars, tigers and bison. The jungle is also home to some of the rare snake species like the viper, krait and the cobra. Make sure you visit Idukki Dam on your next visit to Kerala. 

  • Height: 168.91 metres (554 feet)
  • Length: 365.85 metres (1,200 feet)
  • Purpose: Power generation

9. Indira Sagar Dam, Madhya Pradesh

Indira Sagar Dam is a multi-purpose gravity dam that is built across the river Narmada River at Narmadanagar in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. The sole purpose of this dam was to provide water to the nearby towns and villages. The Indira Sagar dam has a 688-metre-long diversion tunnel, twenty radial gates and a power house that can generate 1000 megawatts of electricity. The surrounding greenery adds to the sheer magnanimity of this dam.

A must-visit site while travelling to Madhya Pradesh, this dam proves to be an excellent example of well calculated engineering. The dam can be reached by road from the town of Khandwa. 

  • Height: 92 metres (302 feet)
  • Length: 653 metres (2,142 feet)
  • Purpose: Water Supply, Power generation.

10. Koyna Dam, Maharashtra

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The largest one in the state of Maharashtra, Koyna Dam is a rubble-concrete dam built on the Koyna River. Constructed in an earthquake prone area, this dam has survived many earthquakes over the years that has stood as a testament to its great engineering. The grandeur of this dam is awe-inspiring. Situated among the Western Ghats, the dam is set up in a very picturesque setting.

Entry to Koyna Dam is strictly prohibited but this dam can be viewed from the Nehru Gardens that are that located right opposite to the dam. This landscaped garden offers a perfect opportunity for you to sit down, relax and enjoy the views of this magnificent dam. 

  • Height: 103.2 metres (339 feet)
  • Length: 807.2 metres (2,648 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Hydroelectricity generation

Must Visit: Top 10 Hill Stations in Maharashtra

11. Bilaspur Dam, Rajasthan

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A gravity dam, Bilaspur Dam is situated on the Banas River in the Tonk District of Rajasthan. With the main purpose of supplying drinking water to the cities of Ajmer and Jaipur, this dam was built in the year 1999.

The Rajasthan Government plans to promote angling at the Bilaspur Dam and plans to provide the visitors with an infrastructure for the same. This will include mechanised as well as paddle boats, floating platform, fishing rods and accommodation. The dam holds back the water and visiting the dam will treat you to a spectacular view of the reservoir. You can also spot many migratory birds at the Bilaspur dam. Bilaspur Dam can rightly be called the ‘Lifeline of Rajasthan’. Also visit some beautiful lakes in rajasthan.

  • Height: 39.5 metres (130 feet)
  • Length: 574 metres (1,883 feet)
  • Purpose: Irrigation, Water Supply

12. Maithon Dam, Jharkhand

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

The Maithon Dam sits on the Barakar River and is considered to be one of the most important dams in Eastern India. This dam was primarily built to control the floods in the surrounding regions. Today, this dam also has an underground power station which is one of its kind in the entire South-East Asia region.

The water held back by this dam gives rise to the Maithon Lake which is spread over 65 square kilometres where you can enjoy a round of boating. This place looks nothing short of a paradise during the monsoon. With the dam gates open, you can see water plunging down and filling up the reservoir. With a small deer park and a garden located nearby, this site makes for a great picnic spot. 

  • Height: 50 metres (165 feet)
  • Length: 4,789 metres (15,712 feet)
  • Purpose: Flood control, Electricity generation 

Feeling inspired much? A visit to these dams in India will surely add a new perspective to your life. The sheer magnitude of these structures will leave you spellbound.

Also Check Out:

Places to visit in Monsoon in India

Visiting Meghalaya in Monsoon

Places to Visit in Kerala During Monsoon

Related Articles