The river Kaveri, often spelled as Cauvery, originating from Talakaveri in the Western Ghats. The river flows south-east through Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Puducherry, across the Deccan plateau (around 765 kilometres) and empties in to the Bay of Bengal.
There are several myths about the sacred origins of Kaveri, otherwise called the Dakshina Ganga. The most well-known is the one in Skanda Purana. When, Vishnu as Mohini was distracting the asuras to gain amritha for the devas, the goddess Lakshmi sent along Lopamudre, an apsara to assist Mohini. After the amritha was gained by the devas, Brahma brought up Lopamudre as his daughter. He allowed the sage Kavera to adopt her at a later date. She was renamed Kaveri. She was deep in meditation at Brahmagiri, when sage Agastya saw her. Kaveri had gone there to pray to Brahma to turn her into a river that could flow through her father’s land making it fertile and absolve the sins of those who take a dip in it.
Her boon had been granted when Agastya asked for her hand in marriage. Kaveri consented, provided he would not leave her alone for too long. He agreed to this. One day he was in a discussion with his disciplines, unconscious of the passage of time, and a waiting Kaveri. She jumped into a holy tank and flowed away as a river when he failed to return. Though his disciples tried to stop her, Kaveri went underground and emerged further along at Bhaganda Kshetra and then joined the Bay of Bengal.
Tributaries of Kaveri
Kaveri has a number of tributaries including:
- The Harangi
- The Hemavathy
- The Lakshmanathirtha
- The Kabini
- The Shimsha
- The Arkavathi
- The Suvarnavathy
- The Kapila
- The Honnuhole
- The Bhavani
- The Lokapavani
- The Noyyal
- The Amaravati
Dams of Kaveri
The river flows through beautiful, but rough terrain in the initial stages. The Krishnarajasagar Dam is constructed at Krishnarajasagar, where it is joined by two of its tributaries, the Hemavati and the Lakshmanatirtha. The famed Brindavan Gardens is built around this dam. The dam itself was named after Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.
In Tamilnadu, the Mettur dam is built over the Kaveri when it enters the plains. The Stanley reservoir created by the dam provides water for irrigation purposes in Tamilnadu.
The Grand Anicut or Kallani dam is another one built on the Kaveri in Tamilnadu.
Water Falls of Kaveri
The famed Hogenekkal falls is upriver of the Mettur Dam. It is a series of waterfalls many of which can be accessed only by the traditional round-shaped boats. The falls was made even more famous by the film Roja.
The Sivasamudram Falls is within the state of Karnataka. It comprises of two rapids, the Bhar Chukki and the Gagana Chukki. This falls is used to produce hydroelectric power for Bengaluru, Mysore and Kolar since 1902. The falls itself is a segmented one, with multiple channels dropping off a cliff.
The river Kaveri sustains millions of humans, and other flora and fauna. It does this through, not just the irrigation and power projects, but through the places of worship and the tourist centres. Thus, even without the aura of its sacred origins, it takes on sacredness by its centrality in the lives of millions.