Tungabhadra River

The Importance of Tungabhadra Dam & Tungabhadra river (MAP 2022)

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Tungabhadra River

The Tungabhadra River is a river in India that originates in the Western Ghats and flows through the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the major tributaries of the Krishna River. The Tungabhadra Dam is built across the river near Hospet, Karnataka. It is one of the most important rivers in Karnataka, as Karnataka is one of India’s most water-stressed states, with 61% of the state, the 5th highest, considered drought-prone area in 2003.

The Tungabhadra River is a confluence of two rivers that run east: the Tunga and the Bhadra. The Tunga begins in the Gangrikal hill ranges north of Kudremukh near Gangamula. The Bhadra rises at Samse in the Kudremukh Aroli Hill range. The Tunga River runs northeast at first, then turns north before turning east. The Bhadra River also travels eastward before turning north and joining the Tunga near Kudli in the Shimoga district.

The Tungabhadra River runs about 298 kilometres. The Tunga and Bhadra rivers meet near Kudli in the Shimoga district, and it travels through Karnataka and some portions of Andhra Pradesh before joining the Krishna River. The catchment and command area spans 48,000 square kilometres and includes 27 taluks from seven districts.

Tungabhadra river is the tributary of the Krishna river. 

  • Tungabhadra is the largest tributary of the river Krishna.
  • It is formed by the confluence of river Tunga and river Bhadra.
  • The river Tunga and Bhadra originate at Gangamula in Chikmagalur district in Karnataka, near the origin of the Nethravati river, which flows into the Arabian sea.
  • The famous Hampi site (UNESCO World Heritage site) lies on the river Tungabhadra.
  • The famous Virupaksha temple also is on the banks of river Tungabhadra.
  • The tributaries of the river Tungabhadra 
    • Left bank: Tunga, Varada.
    • Right bank: Bhadra, Vedavati, Hindri.
  • Finally, Tungabhadra merges into river Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
Tungabhadra Dam
Tungabhadra Dam

Tungabhadra Dam

Tungabhadra Dam, commonly known as Pampa Sagar, is a multifunctional dam located near Hosapete, Ballari district, Karnataka. Dr. Thirumalai Iyengar constructed it in 1953. The Tungabhadra reservoir has a storage capacity of 101 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) and a catchment area of 28000 square kilometres. It stands around 49.39 metres tall. 

Tungabhadra Dam is a 2,441-meter-long and 49.39-meter-tall dam. It was constructed of cement and granite. Two barrages have been constructed to its left (one earthen and another of stone and surkhi). The reservoir is 378 square kilometres in size and has a storage capacity of 4 lakh hectares.


  • Tungabhadra Dam is the lifeline of six districts prone to recurrent drought: Bellary, Koppal, and Raichur in Karnataka (often known as the rice bowl of Karnataka), and Anantapur, Cuddapah, and Kurnool in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
  • In addition to irrigating extensive areas of land in two states, the dam also creates hydroelectric power and helps avoid flooding.

The Multifunctional Role played by Tungabhadra Dam. 

Power houses-The project has resulted in the construction of three power plants. The first of them is located to the left in Munirabad (Karnataka) and has a capacity of 27 M.W. The second power plant at Hospet has eight 9 M.W. generators (a total capacity of 72 M.W.). Along the canal near Hampi, a third power plant with an installed capacity of 27 M.W. has been constructed. This total of 126 MW of power is used for irrigation and the growth of cottage and small-scale enterprises.

Canal Systems

The Tungabhadra project is primarily an irrigation project that has aided in the expansion of cotton, groundnut, rice, sugarcane, jowar, and other agricultural areas. The Tungabhadra barrage gave rise to three canal systems: 

  1. The Left Bank Canal is known as the Tungabhadra Canal. It is 340 kilometres long and irrigates around 3.32 lakh hectares of land in Raichur and Mahbubnagar districts; 
  2. Tungabhadra Low-Level Canal begins on the dam’s right side. It is 347 kilometres long and irrigates about 60,000 hectares of land in the Bellary and Kurnool districts; 
  3. Tungabhadra High-Level Canal is 196 kilometres long and irrigates approximately 1.82 lakh hectares of land in the Bellary and Anantapur districts. 

Tungabhadra River Basin

The catchment area of the Tungabhadra river basin, up to its merger with the Krishna river in Telangana, is 71,417 square kilometres, accounting for 27.6% of the Krishna Basin area (259,077sq. km). The river Tungabhadra gets its name from the confluence of two streams in Shimoga, the Tunga and the Bhadra, near Koodli. The catchment area up to the Karnataka-Telangana border is 57,548 square kilometres, excluding the section of the Vedavati River that flows through A.P. (7148 sq km).

Tungabhadra River Map
Tungabhadra River Map

Tungabhadra River – Agro-Climatic Zone

The Tungabhadra river Sub-basin is divided into six primary agro-climatic zones, with 66% of the land area falling into the Dry Zone, 18% in the Transition Zone, and 14% in the Hilly Zone dominated by the Western Ghats.

Tungabhadra River – Climate and Topography

With an average height of 1200m, the Western Ghats have a climate with an average annual rainfall of 2,300 mm and an average annual temperature of 24 °C. The middle part of the basin, between where the Tunga and Bhadra rivers meet and where the Tungabhadra dam is, is hilly and gets about 800 mm of rain and 26°C of average annual temperature. The lower parts of the river below the dam have mostly black cotton soils that are irrigated, the average annual rainfall is 600 mm, and the average annual temperature is 27°C.

Administrative Divisions in Basin

The Tungabhadra Sub-basin includes thirteen districts, about 68 taluks, 1,697 villages, two municipal corporations, fourteen city municipalities/councils, and five district headquarters.

Districts of Bellary, Chitradurga, and Davanagere are all situated in the sub-basin, while Haveri, Davanagere Koppal, Shivamogga, and Chikamaglur districts are also mostly inside the Tungabhadra river basin.

Tungabhadra River – Ecosystem and Environment

The Tungabhadra river is a habitat for diverse aquatic flora and fauna, including hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic animals. In 2015, the government of Karnataka designated a 34-kilometre section of the Tungabhadra River, between Hole Mudlapura near the Tungabhadra reservoir to the Kampli bridge, as the “Tungabhadra Otter Conservation Reserve” to safeguard the endangered species.

There are five Wildlife Sanctuaries and one National Park in the Tungabhadra basin: Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, Shettyhalli Wildlife Sanctuary, Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Ranebennur Black Buck Sanctuary, and Kudremukh National Park.

Tourism and Culture in Tungabhadra River Basin

There is a number of sacred and cultural sites in the Tungabhadra Basin. Sringeri, a temple on the bank of the Tunga river, attracts more than 25,000 pilgrims per season. Other temples include Horanadu.

Hampi is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site and a historic village located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River close to Hospet. The settlement is located amid the ruins of the historic capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, the city of Vijayanagara. The Vijayanagara canal network is monitored by the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority since it is partially inside the site’s boundary.

Pollution in the Tungabhadra River 

The Tungabhadra River has been harmed by industrial pollution. Industry and mining on the river’s banks in Karnataka’s Chikkamagalur, Shimoga, Davangere, Haveri, Bellary, Koppal, and Raichur districts, and Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts (nearly all the districts along the river’s course) create massive volumes of effluent. Every year, over three crores of effluents are discharged into the Tunga from [Shimoga]. As a result, it is one of the country’s most contaminated rivers.

The water downstream from the factories has become a dark brown colour and has a terrible odour. The contamination of the Tungabhadra River has harmed one million people in the sub-basin since most communities formerly acquired river water via an old tank system for drinking, bathing, irrigating crops, fishing, and watering livestock. Regular fish kills that have depleted Tungabhadra’s fisheries have negatively affected the livelihoods of rural fishermen.


Tungabhadra River in Karnataka

Here is the Gist of all important information about the Tungabhadra River.

The Tungabhadra River in southern India is a holy river that runs from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh. It is created by the convergence of two rivers, the Tunga River and the Bhadra River, which run down the eastern slope of the Western Ghats in Karnataka at the height of around 1,196 metres.

Each of these two rivers are fed by over a hundred tributaries, streams, creeks, rivulets, and other similar streams. Thunga and Bhadra traverse 147 kilometres and 171 kilometres, respectively, until they meet at Kudali, at the height of around 610 metres at Holehonnur, about 15 kilometres from Shimoga. The Tungabhadra meanders across the plains for 531 kilometres until joining the Krishna in Gondimalla, close to the well-known Alampur in the Mahaboobnagar District of Andhra Pradesh. The primary tributaries of the Tungabhadra are Varada, Hagari, and Handri.

The Tungabhadra basin is one of South India’s largest sub-basins. The river system drains 71,417 km2 of land in Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. The Tungabhadra River gets its name from the confluence of two rivers, the Tunga (147 km) and the Bhadra (178 km). Both tributaries originate in the Varahagiri Hills of the Kudremukh range in Karnataka’s Western Ghats and meet in Kudali village near Shimoga. Following the confluence, the river runs for approximately 531 kilometres northeasterly until joining the Krishna River in Kurnool. The Tungabhadra river system comprises tributaries such as the Tunga, Bhadra, Kumudavathi, Haridra, Varada, Vedavati, and Handri.

In conclusion, the Tungabhadra River is an important source of water for the people living in its basin. It provides irrigation for crops and drinking water for humans and animals and supports the local ecosystem. The river is also a popular destination for tourists, who come to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.

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