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Rivers of India: The Mahanadi

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Mahanadi River
| Dhamtari | Raipur | Sambalpur | Cuttack |

Mahanadi River map

Mahanadi has its origin in Chhattisgarh and it flows east through the state of Orissa before entering the Bay of Bengal near Cuttack. The river covers a distance of 851 km from its source. The Mahanadi originates from the hills of the Bastar Plateau in Raipur district. The Tel and Hasdo rivers are its main tributaries. The Mahanadi is one of the most active silt-depositing streams in the Indian-subcontinent.

The Hirakund Dam near Sambalpur is a major landmark on the banks of the Mahanadi. The dam was the longest in the world when it was constructed in 1957. Today, it is a major tourist attraction for travellers. The Hirakund dam regulates the flow of Mahanadi and produces hydroelectricity. The dam has formed a man made lake, which is 55 km long.

Here are a few known and not so known places on the banks of the Mahanadi.

Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary

Located west of the Satpura ranges, Dhamtari is a lovely district that is well known for its lush green forests and beautiful scenery. The district is bordered by Kanker in the west and Raipur in the north. Dhamtari is known of its rich cultural heritage and tribal life. The district is drained by the Mahanadi.

Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary is the major tourist attraction here. The sanctuary is home to a number of wild animals and birds. Madamsilli Dam, Sondhur Dam and Dudhawa Dam are other popular places to see in Dhamtari. Dhamtari Industrial School and Bhillai Iron & Steel Plant are other major landmarks in Dhamtari. Besides exploring the major tourist attractions in Dhamtari, one can also get a glimpse of the tribal life in Dhamtari.

Reaching Dhamtari:
The nearest airport and convenient rail head to Dhamtari is at Raipur. Public and private transport is available from Raipur to Dhamtari.


The capital city of Chhattisgarh, Raipur is one of the most important cities and industrial and trading centers of the state. Raipur is located on the banks of Mahanadi and is surrounded by Bilaspur in the north and by the famous Bastar tribal region in the south. Raipur is also considered as the gateway to the exotic Bastar region.

Mahant Ghasidas Memorial Museum is a popular tourist attraction in Raipur. The museum was established in 1875. It has two floors with five galleries and a library. Other places of tourist interest in Raipur include Hatkeswar Mahadev Temple, Mahamaya Temple, Mahakoshal Art Gallery, Dudhadhari Monastery and the 15th century Budhapara Lake.

Shripur or Sirpur is of particular interest to archeologists and historians. The excavation at the site years ago revealed temple sites, stone pillars and Buddhist monasteries and sculptures in remarkably good condition. Travellers can also explore Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Sita Nadi Sanctuary and Udanti Sanctuary.

Reaching Raipur: Raipur is well connected by air, rail and road transport from different parts of the country.

Check hotels in Raipur

Hirakund Dam, Sambalpur

Leaving Chhattisgarh, the Mahanadi enters Orissa. Sambalpur is an important place located on the banks of the Mahanadi. Sambalpur is believed to have been a popular city in ancient time. One can find reference of Sambalpur in the book of Ptolemy (2nd century AD) as Sambalaka on the river Manada (the Mahanadi river).

Sambalpur is approximately 321 km from Bhubaneswar. There are many places of tourist interest in and around Sambalpur that one can visit. The most popular of all is the Hirakund Dam. It is the longest dam in the world. A revolving minaret called Gandhi Minar offers lovely views of the dam. About 26 km from Jharsuguda Railway Station is Vikramhol. It is a cave that contains pictographic inscription that dates back to 1,500 BC. Other places of tourist interest include Pradhanpat and Chiplima.

Reaching Sambalpur: The nearest airport is at Raipur. Sambalpur is well connected by rail network to Kolkata, Puri, Mumbai, Chennai and other cities in the country. Sambalpur is well connected by good road network from neighbouring cities.
Udayagiri caves, Cuttack

Cuttack is one of the oldest cities in Orissa. It lies on a fertile delta formed by the Mahanadi and Kathjori. Cuttack is located about 30 km from the capital of Orissa. Cuttack is well known for its sliver filigree work. The city derives its name from a military camp ‘Kataka’ that was set up by the Keshari dynasty.

There are many places of tourist interest in Cuttack. Cuttack Chandi Temple is a major attraction here. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi, the presiding deity of the city. The temple is located in Barabati area of Cuttack. Paramhansnath Temple is another popular temple in Cuttack. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is famous for its large water hole.

One can also check out the Barabati Fort that was built in the 14th century by the Ganga dynasty. The fort is located just 8 km from the city centre. Qadam-i-Rasool is a shrine revered by the Hindus and Muslims alike. Inside the complex, there are three beautiful mosques that have attractive domes and halls.

Stone Revetments on the banks of the river are a must visit in Cuttack. Build by King Marakata Keshari in the 11th century, the Stone Revetments were considered an engineering marvel of those times. The revetments have proved very useful and protect the city from many floods.

Reaching Cuttack: Bhubaneshwar is the nearest airport. The city has its own railway station, which well connected with Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Cuttack is well connected by road transport from neighbouring cities.
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