kaveri river upsc

Master Everything about Kaveri River UPSC [2022] MAP

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This article is analysing the Kaveri river system from the perspective of the UPSC examination. This article consists of a detailed analysis of the Cauvery river system and its tributaries with a map.

Kaveri river

  • Kaveri river, also known as the Ponni river, is famous as the Ganga of the South. Source ( Godavari is Dakshin Ganga )
  • Kaveri river Originates at Talakaveri at an elevation of 1341 meter above sea level in the western ghats, Brahmagiri range in Coorg district of Karnataka.
  • Kaveri river basin spreads over a total area of 81,155 Sq. Km that is as follow:
Drainage areaState
34,273 Sq.Km.Karnataka,
43856 Sq.Km.Tamilnadu ,
2866 Sq.Km.Kerala
160 Sq.Km.Union Territory of Puducherry.


  • The total length of the Kaveri river from the origin to its outfall into the Bay of Bengal is 800 Kms.
  • The distribution of length is as follow:
    • 320 Kms. is in Karnataka,
    • 416 Kms. in Tamilnadu and 
    • 64 Kms. Forms the state border between Karnataka and Tamilnadu.
    • Kaveri river finally merges into the Bay of Bengal to the South of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu.
    • As you can see on the map, the Kaveri river breaks into many distributaries forming a wide delta known as the “garden of southern India.”

Cauvery basin

  • The Cauvery basin is bounded by
    • Tungabhadra river basin lies on the Northside, and Palar river basin lies on the Southside of Kaveri river basin. 
    • The Western Ghats form the western boundary.
    • The Nilgiri mountain range extends Eastwards towards the Eastern ghats and divides the Kaveri river basin into two – natural and political regions: 
      • Karnataka plateau in the North and 
      • The Tamilnadu plateau in the South.


  • the Kaveri river basin physically is represented by three parts – 
    • the Westen Ghats
    • the Plateau of Mysore
    • The Delta
  • The delta areas of the basin are the most fertile parts. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas. 
  • The major soil types found in the Kaveri basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, mixed soils and forest soils.    
  • Red soils occupy the largest areas of the basin. 


  • The Kaveri basin receives rainfall from both South-West Monsoon and North-East Monsoon.
  • The basin in Karnataka receives rainfall mostly from the South-West Monsoon.
  • The basin in Tamil Nadu receives the most rainfall from the North-East Monsoon.
  • All this makes the Kaveri river almost a perennial river with fewer fluctuations in water flow and so plays a very useful role for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Shivasamudram falls

  • In Chamarajanagar district are the scenic Sivasamudram Falls, plunging 100 m and reaching upto a width of 300 m in the rainy season.
  • The falls are used to generate hydroelectric power, which powers Mysore, Bengaluru, and the Kolar Gold Fields.
kaveri river upsc
kaveri river upsc

Tributaries of the Cauvery River

The Cauvery river system consists of 21 principal tributaries each with Catchment Area exceeding 250 Sq.Kms. The important one from UPSC Exam point of view are discussed here:

  • Left Bank: the Harangi, the Hemavati, the Shimsha, and the Arkavati.
  • Right Bank: Lakshmantirtha, the Kabbani, the Suvarnavati, the Bhavani, the Noyil, and the Amaravati.
S.NoName of TributaryCatchment area (Sq.km.)OriginLengthSub-tributariesName of the state
1Harangi717Pushpagiri Hills of Western ghats 50--Karnataka
2Hemavathy5,410Ballarayana Durga in Western Ghats245--Karnataka
3Kabini7,040Western ghats in Kerala230Taraka,Hebballa, Nugu, GundalKarnataka, Kerala & Tamiln Nadu
4Suvarnavathy1,787Nasrur ghat Range88--Karnataka & Tamil Nadu
5Lakshmanathirtha1,690Western ghats131RamathirthaKarnataka
6Shimsha8,469Tumkur district221Veeravaishnavi, kanihalla, chickkhole, Hebbahalla, Mullahalla & KanvaKarnataka
7Arkavathy4351Nandidurga161Kumaudavathy, Manihalla & kuttehole, VrishabhavathyKarnataka & Tamil Nadu
8Amravathi8280Naimakad256--Tamil Nadu
9Bhavani6200Attappadi valley in Kerala 170--Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Now lets see Each Important tributary one by one!

Hemavati River

hemavati river
hemavati river
  • The drainage area of the Hemavati river is spread across an area of 5,410 sq. km.
  • Hemavati river is 245 km long. 
  • Hemavati river originates in the Western Ghats at 1219 m near the Ballalarayana Durga in Chikmagalur District of Karnataka.
  • It flows through Chikkamagalooru, Hassan District, and Mysore district before joining the Kaveri near Krishnarajasagara.
  • At Hassan, Hemavati is joined by the River Yagachi
  • In 1979 Government built a large reservoir on the river at Gorur in the Hassan district.

Shimsha River

shimsha river
shimsha river
  • The total length of the Shimsha river is 221 km.
  • Shimsha has a catchment area of 8469 sq. km.
  • Shimsha river lies wholly in Karnataka.
  • The Shimsha river originates in the southern part of the Devarayanadurga hill in the Tumkur district of Karnataka.
  • Shimsha river runs for 221 km. before merging into the river Kaveri.
  • The Shimsha River merges into the Cauvery river at Shimsa.
  • The sub tributaries of Shimsha River are Veeravaishnavi, Kanihalla, Chickkhole, Hebbahalla, Mullahalla, and Kanva.
  • Markonahalli Dam is built across the Shimsha in the Tumkur district.
  • Waterfall at Shimshapura in Malavalli Taluk over the Shimsha river is also the location of the Shimsha Hydro Electric Project.

Arkavathy River

  • Arkavathy river is 161 km long.
  • Arkavathy river has a drainage area of 4351 sq. km.
  • Arkavathy river originates at Nandi Hills of Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka
  • It is a tributary of the Kaveri River, which it joins at Kanakapura after flowing through Kolar District and Bangalore Rural district
  • The river drains into the Chikkarayappanahalli Lake near Kanivenarayanapura.
  • Chunchi waterfall lies on the Arkavathi River at Sangama.
  • The Arkavathy river water is supplied for drinking purposes to Banglore 135 million liters of drinking water per day. The water is taken from two reservoirs built on the Arkavathy,
    • the Hesaraghatta-built in 1894
    • the Tippagondanahalli Reservoir- built-in 1933.

Lakshmanathirtha River

Lakshmanathirtha river
Lakshmanathirtha river
  • Drainage area 1690 sq.km.
  • Total length 131 km
  • Lakshmanathirtha River Originates from the Brahmagiri Range forming the Irupu Waterfall.
  • The river plunges down from a height of 170 ft. forming the Iruppu Water falls in the Kodagu district of Karnataka
  • After flowing eastward Laxmantirtha joins the Kaveri River in the Krishna Raja Sagara Lake.
  • Ramathirtha is its major tributary.

Kabini River

kabini river
kabini river
  • The Kabini is an important tributary of the Cauvery.
  • Kabini river have a drainage basin of 7,040 sq.km.
  • Kabini is a perennial river, 150 to 200 meters wide, and has a course length of 240 Kms. Approx.
  • Kabini river originates in the Western ghats in North Wynad in Kerala by two streams, i.e., the Mannantoddypuzha and Panamarampuzha.
  • Nearly 16 Kms. Below the confluence of these two streams, the Kabini river forms a border between Kerala and Karnataka state for about 12 Kms. before entering Karnataka state.
  • Kabini joins the Cauvery river at Tirumakudalu Narasipur (T.N.Pur), and this confluence point is regarded as a place of great sanctity. This confluence point is also known as “Triveni Sangama.”

Suvarnavathi River

Suvarnavathi river
Suvarnavathi river
  • Drainage Area: 1,787 sq.km.
  • This Suvarnavathi River has a length of about 88 km.
  • The Suvarnavathi is a southern tributaries of the Kaveri river.
  • Suvarnavathi river is also called the Honnuhole (Honhole) river
  • It begins in the Nasurghat hills in Mysore in Karnataka.
  • The Suvarnavathi river is formed when the two streams, Niredurgihalla and Araikaduhalla, join the river at Badibadga.
  • The Suvarnavathi river is joined by its tributaries Chikkahole and Yenehole. 
  • The Suvarnavathy dam is situated on the Suvarnavathy River near Attigulipura in Chamarajanagar Taluk near the Chikkahole reservoir Project.

Noyyal River

Noyyal river
Noyyal river
  • Noyyal river is a tributary of the Kaveri and rises in the Velliangiri Hills in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Noyyal river runs through the Coimbatore and Tiruppur and merges in the Kaveri river at Noyyal in Karur district.
  • It is a sacred river in Tamil history.
  • Noyyal River was originally known as Kanchi Nadi and later became famous as Noyyal, which means “one who is free of illness.”
  • The source of the Noyyal river, i.e., the Velliangiri Hills, is famous as the Dakshin Kailash or South Kailash.
  • Noyyal river joins with Cauvery river at Kodumudi in Erode District. The place is also called Noyyal.
  • Noyyal river contains two major dams Orathuppalayam (Near Chennimalai) and Aathupalayam Dam (Near Vellakoil), commissioned to irrigate about 20,000 acres of area in Tirupur and Karur districts.

Amaravati River

amaravati river
amaravati river
  • Amaravathi River has a length of 256 km.
  • Amaravathi River drains an area of 8280 sq. km.
  • Amaravathi River rises from Naimakad at an elevation of 2300 m above MSL in the Western Ghats (Anaimalai) in the Idukki District of Kerala State. 
  • Amaravathi River flows towards north­east till the confluence with the river Cauvery on its right bank. Throughout its course of 256 km, the Amaravathi River receives several small streams. 
  • Amaravathi River has a catchment area of 8280 sq. Km. Constituting four districts, namely Coimbatore, Erode, Dindigul, and Karur in Tamil Nadu. 
  • The Amaravathi River basin has two distinct topographical features:
    • The hilly terrain occupies the southern, south­western, and western part of the Amravati basin and have elevation 2300 m and 500 m, and the undulating plains of the basin with stray hillocks lie between 500 m and 40 m. 
  • The Amravati river basin is more or less fan-shaped and have a length of about 188 km from west to east and an average width of 81 km from south to north. 

Bhavani River

bhavani river
bhavani river
  • The Bhavani River is a perennial river
  • Bhavani River rises in Attappadi valley in Kerala.
  • Bhavani River enters Tamilnadu near Mannar and runs from West to East for 170 Kms. and joins the Cauvery near Bhavani Town.
  • Bhavani River principally receives runoff from the South-West monsoon and occasional floods during North- East Monsoon.

Cauvery Water Dispute

  • Cauvery River basin is spread across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Union territory of Puducherry. 
  • The government of India, exercising its powers under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, had constituted the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1990, on-demand of the state of Tamil Nadu.
  • The Tribunal in 2007 adjudicated upon the sharing of Cauvery river water among the Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Union territory of Puducherry.
  • However, the concerned States approached the Supreme Court against the Tribunal verdict.
  • The Supreme Court of India delivered its judgement in 2018, modifying the Tribunal’s verdict. 

Verdict of the Supreme Court of India:

  • The SC pronounced that Karnataka is given an additional 14.75 TMC of the river water while 177.25 TMC of water be released for Tamil Nadu.
  • The allocation of Karnataka, which used to be 270 TMC, has been increased to 284.75 TMC
  • So the final allocated share is:
StateQuantity of water allocated
Karnataka284.75 tmcft, including 4.75 tmcft for Bengaluru
Tamil Nadu404.25 tmcft
Kerala30 tmcft
Puducherry7 tmcft
  • SC also ordered the Government of India to constitute a scheme under section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act to implement the verdict.
  • Therefore, the GOI notified the Cauvery Water Management Scheme on 01st June 2018, setting up the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC).
  • Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) functions under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Want to learn more details about Cauvery water dispute refer here

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  1. It was really helpful. This is the best explanation till now . I am going share it with other fellow aspirants.
    Thank you so much sir/ma’am .

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