The Godavari river is India’s second longest river after the holy Ganga river. The Godavari basin covers about 10% of India’s total geographical area. The Godavari river originates in the Western Ghats of central India near Nashik in Maharashtra which is about 80 km from the Arabian Sea.
Godavari flows east for 1,465 kilometers and then drains about 48.6% of Maharashtra, 18.8% of Telangana, 4.5% of Andhra Pradesh, 10.9% of Chhattisgarh, and 5.7% of Odisha. Godavari finally drains into the Bay of Bengal. Spreading up to 312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi), Godavari is one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent.
Godavari is the largest river in peninsular India in terms of length, catchment area, and discharge. So, Godavari is also considered Dakshina Ganga (the Ganges of the South). The river is mentioned in Hindu scriptures for many centuries as it nourishes a rich cultural heritage.
The course of Flow of Godavari
Godavari flows for 1,465 km eastwards across the Deccan Plateau at first. It then turns southeast, entering the West Godavari district and East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. From there, it splits into two distributaries and widens into a large river delta at Dowleswaram Barrage in Rajahmundry and eventually flows into the Bay of Bengal.
The Godavari River has a coverage area of 312,812 km2 which is nearly one-tenth of the area of India. In other terms, it is equivalent to the area of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland put together. The river basin is considered to be divided into 3 sections:
- Upper (junctions with Manjira),
- Middle (between the junction of Manjira and Pranhita) and
- Lower (junction at the mouth of Pranhita).
All of these account for 24.2% of the total basin area. The river’s annual average water capacity is 110 billion cubic meters.
This accounts for 50% of the water availability for various states.
The Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal governs the water allocation from the river to various states.
However, the perennial river has the highest flood flows in India. In 1986, a recorded flood of 3.6 million cusecs occurred and in the year 1986 and an annual flood of 1.0 million cusecs occurred.
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The Godavari basin receives its maximum rainfall in the Southwest monsoon.
All parts of the Godavari basin receive the maximum rainfall in the period from June to September.
During January and February, the Godavari basin gets dried up as the rainfall during these two months is less than 15 mm.
The Godavari basin receives 84% of the annual rainfall on average during the Southwest monsoon.
Seven months of Godavari
- The Godavari has seven mouths in total before merging into the Bay of Bengal and is considered sacred by Hindus. As per our ancient culture, the holy waters of the Godavari are said to have been brought from the head of Lord Shiva by the Rishi Gautama.
- The seven branches through which it reaches the sea are said to have been made by seven great rishis known as Sapta Rishis.
- So, the branches are named after the great rishis. The names are given as Tulyabhāga (Kashyap Maharshi), Ātreya (Atri Maharshi), Gautamī (Gautama Maharshi), Jamadagni (Old Goutami Maharshi), Bhardwāja (Bharadwaja Maharshi), Kauśika (Viswamitra Maharshi) and Vaśișțha (Vasishtha Maharshi).
- All the divisions combined are called Sapta Godavari and the Godavari river before splitting is referred to as Akhanda Godavari.
- Apart from Ganga and Yamuna, Godavari also holds special religious importance in India since times immemorial.
- The river is sacred to Hindus since ancient times. There are several places on its banks with pilgrimage for thousands of years.
- Every 12 years, Pushkaram is celebrated on the banks of the Godavari River.
- The two bathing ghats, Ramkund and Kushavarta holy reservoirs situated in the Godavari river hold a high significance. On these ghats, thousands of sadhus, holy men, and millions of pilgrims take dips in the holy river during Kumbh Mela.
- Apart from Kumbh Mela, the Hindus perform many other religious rituals at river Godavari and consider it sacred and pure.
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