"When you grow tired of being light and airy,  drink generously of the Reva (another name for the river Narmada) till you become full and heavy. Majestically, sail over mountains and plains, showering rain and bringing joy to all living things:"

-Kalidasa, Meghadoot 

The Narmada River

Source : Mahadev  hills in Madhya Pradesh.
Length  : 1,312 km
Coverage  : Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat

The Narmada River is considered the mother and giver of peace. Legend has it that the mere sight of this river is enough to cleanse one's soul, as against a dip in the Ganga or seven in the Yamuna. The Ganga is believed to visit this river once a year, in the guise of a black cow to cleanse herself of all her collected sins.

All along the river, one will be always close to teak jungles. Apart from teaks, India's best hardwood forests are found in the Narmada river basin and they are much older than the ones in the Himalayas.

There is the Chausath Yogini (sixty-four yoginis) temple above the lower end of the gorge. The attendants of Durga are represented here. Although the images have been damaged, they still retain their pristine beauty.

The city of Jabalpur is the second largest in Madhya Pradesh after Bhopal. The metropolis itself stands in a rock basin about 10 km away from the Narmada. Named after a saint called Jabali who lived here, Jabalpur is famous for its marble rocks.

Down the Narmada, it is a myriad landscape-thickly forested mountain slopes, rocky regions with picturesque rapids, falls and whirlpools and cultivated lands with rich black cotton soil. The great river runs through rift valleys, which are part of perhaps the oldest geological formations of India. Believed to have originated from the body of Shiva, the river is also known as Jata Shankari. The worship of Shiva is common in these areas, and each stone or pebble found in the bed of the Narmada is believed to be a Shivalinga. Places along the banks-Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, and Mahadeo-are all named after Shiva.

Omkareshwar has several old and new temples. There is an island on the river that is supposed to have one of India's twelve great Shivalingas. Maheshwar is on the northern banks of the river. Cenotaphs in memory of the Holkars beautify the landscape at Maheshwar. There are a number of temples too, and a fort. One also gets a chance to see the delicate, gorgeous Maheshwari saris being hand-woven. Comfortable in warm and cold weather, dressy and yet light, these saris have a dedicated, select following among Indian women. Places like Maheshwar and Omkareshwar are just examples of the large number of religious centers that dot the banks of the Narmada as it weaves its 1,000-kilometer journey through the state of Madhya Pradesh.

To this Narmada, home to so many, religion to more, and beautiful river to all.

The Narmada  River 

The Narmada River is the only river in India that flows in a rift valley and flows in central India between North India and South India. Narmada river rising in Madhya Pradesh state that runs from east to west  along with the Tapti River and the Mahi River. Narmada flows over a length of 1,312 km before draining through the Gulf of Cambey (Khambat) into the Arabian Sea, 30 km  west of Bharuch city of Gujarat. The Narmada River has a huge water resources potential for agriculture and economy of the region. More than 90% of water  flow occurs during the monsoon months of June to September.

The  most  sacred rivers of India are River Ganga (गंगा), River Yamuna (यमुना), Godavari River , Sarswati, Narmada, Sindhu  and Kaveri, a dip in any of these rivers washes ones sins away.. 

The dams on Narmada river benefits  the four Indian states Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan that  include provision for drinking water, power generation and irrigation facilities.

Source of Narmada River

The source of the Narmada is a small tank called Narmada Kund located on the Amarkantak hill, in the Anuppur District of eastern Madhya Pradesh. From the Amarkantak hill range the river descends at the Kapildhara falls over a cliff and meanders in the hills flowing through  the rocks and islands up to the ruined palace of Ramnagar.

Amarkantak Shiva temple

Amarkantak is 71 Kms. from Anupppur, an important railway junction of the South Eastern Central Railway. Amarkantak is at a distance of 320 Kms. from Jabalpur and 265 Kms. from Rewa by road and around 100 Kms. from Shahdol. The nearest railway station from Amarkantak is Pendra, which is 65 Kms. from Amarkantak. Pendra is in Bilaspur  of Chhatisgarh

Narmada River in plains

The river rises on the summit of Amarkantak Hill in Madhya Pradesh state .It traverses the first 320 kilometres  course around the Mandla Hills, which form the head of the Satpura Range; then moves towards Jabalpur passing through the `Marble Rocks`, it enters the Narmada Valley between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges, and moves westwards towards the Gulf of Cambay. It flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, and finally meets the Arabian Sea in the Bharuch District of Gujarat.

Narmada River flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh 1,077 km (669.2 miles), Maharashtra, 74 km (46.0 miles)), 35 km (21.7 miles) border between Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and 39 km (24.2 miles) border between Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and in Gujarat 161 km (100.0 miles)).  

Dams on Narmada River

In 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity 30 large dams was planned on river Narmada.The major dams on Narmada river are : Sardar Sarovar Dam,  Maheshwar Dam,  Maan Dam,  Indira Sagar Dam, Bargi Dam and  Goi Dam  

Of the 30 big dams proposed along the Narmada, Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and Narmada Sagar Project (NSP) are the megadams. The Maheshwar and Omkareshwar dams along with SSP and NSP, are to form a complex which would ultimately cater to the needs of SSP.  Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is the largest multipurpose project involved in the construction, with a proposed height of 136.5 m, In February 1999, the Supreme Court of India gave the go ahead for the dam's height to be raised to 88 metres from the initial 80.  In March 2006, despite popular protest, the Supreme Court gave clearance for the height to be increased to 121.92 metres. 

Narmada Bachao Andolan

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is a peoples  organisation that mobilised tribal people, adivasis, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists against the Sardar Sarovar Dam being built across the Narmada river, Gujarat. The Andolan (campaign) includes hunger strikes and garnering support from noted film and art personalities together with its leading spokespersons Medha Patkar and Baba Amte.

In 1985, after hearing about the Sardar Sarovar dam, Medha Patkar and her colleagues visited the project site and noticed the project work being shelved due to an order by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The reasons for this was cited as "non-fulfillment of basic environmental  conditions and the lack of completion of crucial studies and plans". What she noticed was that the people who were going to be affected were given no information, but for the offer for rehabilitation.

Medha Patkar approached the Ministry of Environment to seek clarifications. She realized, after seeking answers from the ministry, that the project was not sanctioned at all, and wondered as to how funds were even sanctioned by the World Bank. Patkar quit her studies and focus entirely on the Narmada activity. Thereafter, she organized a 36-day long, solidarity march among the neighboring states of the Narmada valley from Madhya Pradesh to the Sardar Sarovar dam site.

Medha Patkar established Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in 1989, all other groups joined this national coalition of environmental and human rights activists, scientists, academics and project-affected people with a non-violent approach. Medha Patkar advised also World Bank to their propaganda. Using the right to fasting, she undertook a 22 day fast that almost took her life. In 1991, her actions led to an unprecedented independent review by the World Bank. The Morse Commission, appointed in June 1991 at the recommendation of The World Bank conducted its first independent review of a World Bank project. Due to the review of World Bank the Indian Government pulling out of its loan agreement with the World Bank.

In 1994, the Bachao Andolan office was attacked reportedly by a couple of political parties, where Patkar and other activists were physically assaulted and verbally abused. In protest, a few NBA activists and she began a fast and 20 days later, they were arrested and forcibly fed intravenously.Patkar led Narmada Bachao Andolan had filed a written petition with the Supreme Court of India seeking stoppage of construction on the Sardar Sarovar dam. The Supreme Court also deliberated on this issue further for several years but finally upheld the Tribunal Award and allowed the construction to proceed, subject to conditions.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on 27 July 2011 suffered a set-back after the Supreme Court rejected its plea for land for the landless displaced by construction of a dam for providing irrigation facilities to farmers in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh. The NBA wanted dierction to the Madhya Pradesh government to allot two hectares of land to each of the ousted families as part of a relief andrehabilitation package for those affected by the Upper Veda Project on Veda river in the district.

The apex court bench of Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan in their judgment said that it did not find any "cogent reason" in the demand for allotment of agricultural land to the landless oustees affected by the submergence of the dam affected area. The court said that "contention is devoid of merit".

Speaking for the bench, Justice Chauhan said: "Neither it (land to landless oustees) had ever been contemplated nor it is compatible with the policy. Nor has such a land ever been allotted to this class of persons. The contention is hereby rejected."


The river has been mentioned by Ptolemy in the Second century AD as Namade. There are several references of Narmada in the Ramayana, the Mahabharat and Puranas. The Rewa Khand of Vayu Purana and the Rewa Khand of Skanda Purana are entirely devoted to the story of the birth and the importance of the river  Narmada. Legends also mention that the Narmada River is older than the river Ganga.

Narmada in Hindu religion

The Narmada river is one of the most sacred  holy rivers of India among Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari and Kaveri. Every Hindu belives that a dip in any of these five rivers washes their sins, Narmada is said to be the daughter of Lord Shiva (शिव).

All along the course of the Narmda river, starting with its origin at Narmadakhund at Amarkantak hill largest Shiva temples in India are located. The famous temples of Lord Sjiva on narmada river  are  the Amarkantak  or Teerathraj,  Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Sulpaneswar, Narmdeswar, Khumbeswar, Hanumanteswar, Sukrewsar, Mandveswar, Dasameswar, Kubereswar, Vaysewar, Adeteswar, Hayeswar  and Chamundikund - all named after Shiva.

Other famous temples are  Chausath Yogini (sixty four yoginis) temple,  Chaubis Avatar temple, Bhojpur Shiva temple and Bhrigu Rishi temple in Bharuch.

There are many fables about the origin of the Narmada. According to one of them, once Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of the Universe, meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva's sweat accumulated in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river - the Narmada.       onomy

The valleys of River Narmada are very important for the economically development of  the region. There are  various handicraft works and other small-scale industries along the Narmada. The dams on Narmada river benefits include provision drinking water, power generation and irrigation facilities. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) final order determined the utilizable quantum of Narmada waters to be 27,000,000 acre feet (3.3×1010 m3) at 75% dependability and allocated it to the four states as

   Party States                 Allocated share of water %                  share of power
   Madhya Pradesh         18,250,000 acre feet (22.51 km3)        57
   Gujarat                      9,000,000 acre feet (11 km3)                16
   Maharashtra              250,000 acre feet (0.31 km3)                27
   Rajasthan                  500,000 acre feet (0.62 km3)                Nil
   Total                         28,000,000 acre feet (35 km3)              100

The Gujarat governments promises of irrigating 1.845 million hectares of land covering 3,112 villages of 73 talukas through Sardar Sarovar Project. At least three Gujarat districts, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, where even rural parts have started receiving Narmada canal water under the SSP project after 2005, have boosted net sowing area
leading to increase in crop production and crop yield.


The lower Narmada River Valley and the surrounding uplands, covering an area of  65,598.8 sq miles consists of dry deciduous forests. The ecoregion is home to 76 species of mammals and to 276 bird species none of which are endemic. Some of the important national parks and wild life sanctuaries in the valley are:  

Kanha National Park: This park is located in the upper reaches of Narmada, about 18 km from Mandla, This park is the home of several wild animals including the Tiger. It is one of the best National Parks of Asia,.  Satpura National Park: This park set up in 1981, is located in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. Its covers an area of 524 Sq.km. Satpura National Park, being part of a unique ecosystem, is very rich in biodiversity. The fauna comprises tiger, leopard,  sambar, chital, bhedki, nilgai, four-horned antelope, chinkara, bison (gour), wild boar, wild dog, bear, black buck, fox, porcupine, flying squirrel, mouse deer,  Indian joint squirrel etc. The flora of the national park consists of mainly  sal, teak, tendu, aonla, mahua, bel, bamboo, and a variety of grasses and  medicinal plants.

Mandla Plant Fossils National Park, Dindori National fossils park Ghughuya is situated in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh. The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve covers a wide spectrum of floral and faunal features that occupy the Satpura conservation area. It is one of the oldest forest reserves, which has an established tradition of scientific management of forests.

There are also natural preserves such as the Amarkantak, the Bagh Caves and the Bhedaghat. Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary in Gujarat, near the Sardar Sraovar dam site, previously called the Dumkal Sloth Bear Sanctuary covers an area of about 607 sq.km. It is the habitat of mammals and a variety of birds, including eagles and hawks. The anthropological sites along River Narmada not only serve for the historians interest but also the tourists. The extensive caves of Bhimbhetka are located in a dyke structure of the Narmada valley at about 45 km northeast of Bhopal. 

Narmada river development

The Narmada river development or NRD are the policies and rules to keep the banks of the river clean and developed. The Narmada River features huge resources and potential for the development of the region. The Narmada river development was designed to keep the banks and water of the river clean and usable for resource needs. 

The people of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh received an apt gift on the World Environment Day 2011 on June 5, 2011 supplies from the Narmada river that is supposed to end their water woes. The Narmada water project has been prepared to cater to the water needs of Bhopal in 2037 when its estimated population would be 36 lakh.

A stretch on National Highway No. 8 between Vadodara and Surat, known as the country's busiest road, will soon have five-hectare park near Bharuch on the banks of Narmada. The project has been funded by tourism department and the Bharuch district planning board. Local MLAs and MPs also have contributed to the project on November 14, 2011 which will cost Rs 2.62 crore.

Tributaries of River Narmada  

The tributaries of River Narmada are Hallon, Banjar, Barna and Tawa are the main source of water, irrigation and other resource based activities in the central India.   
Environment Protection

In an effort to keep the Narmada pollution-free, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to launch a novel bio-health monitoring programme, wherein species that feed on pollutants will be introduced in the river. The programme, initiated by Madhya Pradesh's Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA), will also include frequent assessments of the health of Narmada river over a period of time.

"The concept is based on the age-old practice of 'Benthic Invertebrate Population' which was earlier found in plenty in healthy rivers, but these days due to growing pollution, it has become a rare thing," NVDA Vice Chairman O P Rawat told PTI on February 24, 2012. Madhya Pradesh is the first state in the country to introduce this natural way of keeping rivers healthy, he said. Benthic invertebrates are those species which feed on and convert pollutants present in the rivers into food for aquatic animals, thus helping keep the river healthy in a natural manner, he explained.

The latest report of Central Pollution Control Board in August 2011 says that amongst India's 10 major Indian rivers, water of Narmada is not only the cleanest but even fit for drinking. The bacteria count in Narmada is the lowest in comparison to other major rivers. River Yamuna (यमुना) has emerged as the most polluted river in the country in the study. The primary reason for the purity of Narmada water is said to be the absence of any major industries along the river bank. The river also does not have to support large population, saving it from man-made pollution.

According to the NBA, the Maheshwar Dam project was privatised in 1992 and handed over to the S. Kumars group will submerge the lands and homes of 50,000 to 70,000 peasants, fishermen and landless workers in 61 villages. The Environment Ministry has issued a show cause notice on February 18, 2010 to the company building the Maheshwar Dam in the Narmada Valley after hundreds of affected people marched to the Ministry demanding rehabilitation.

The Gujarat government is bent on blowing up billions of rupees for building the world's tallest statue, a 182-metre memorial for Gujarat-born Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, near the gigantic Narmada dam. The imposing "Statue of Unity"  double the height of the "Statue of Liberty" in New York   to come up midstream on an islet 3.5km from the Narmada dam was estimated to cost Rs10 billion.


Narmada River forms the boundary between North and South India. It is one of the principal rivers in Central India that runs from east to west. River Narmada originates in the Maikala Range in the east-central part of Madhya Pradesh. The river enters the Vindhyas and Satpura range at Marble Rock Gorge, after flowing through hills of Madhla. Then, it flows westward and enters the Gulf of Cambay through and estuary, which is 13 miles in width. The river flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The Narmada River is about 1,289 kilometers long. It is one of the most sacred river, after Ganges. It has a number of ghats in Hoshangabad. Tawa is the longest tributary of the river, which joins it at Bandra Bhan in the district of Hoshangabad. After leaving Madhya Pradesh, the river widens and forms an estuary in the Gulf of Cambay.

The Narmada River Valley Project also known as Sardar Sarovar Project was conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India in 1940. With an objective to build about 3200 large, medium and small dams, the river valley project got a concrete shape in 1979. The project aims at providing hydro-electric power to Madhya Pradesh and the arid regions of Gujarat. It is noteworthy that Narmada River Valley Project has got notoriety in the recent years due to the opposition by the villagers. The Narmada Bachao Andolan activists had obstructed the construction of the dam in the early 90s. However, the construction of the dam is in progress after the Supreme Court of India issued orders in 2000.

Origin of Narmada River in Chhattisgarh

Narmada River in Chhattisgarh is of prime importance for he sacred place it holds in the trust and belief of the people. The river has its source in the Satpura range of Amarkantak in the state of Chhattisgarh. The state of Chhattisgarh is spread over an area of 1,37,360 Sq.km out of which the Narmada basin stretches for about 2113 Sq.km. It flows from the east to the west and ultimately joins the Arabian Sea. For the first 320 kms of its journey, it meanders through the Mandla Hills, crosses Madhya Pradesh, the Narmada valley and finally to the Gulf of Cambay in the Bharuch district of Gujarat. On its way it crosses the Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

At the source of the Narmada river in Amarkantaka, an eleven cone pond is constructed around the mouth of the river known as Narmada Kund, flows through western Gomukha and to Kotitirtha. The other main places of tourist interest around the Narmada river here are Narmada mai ka mandir, and Mai ki bagia.

The Narmada River is considered to be one of the most important rivers in India. Socially, it is believed to be sacred having descended by the order of Lord Shiva with more purifying quality than river Ganges. Association of Lord Shiva with Narmada River in Chhattisgarh is widely believed and the river is also known as Reva. It is said that the sight of the river can make a pilgrim pure thus making it a popular pilgrimage. A walk from the source to its end and back along the opposite bank is considered to be the most sacred of pilgrimages. River Narmada is worshiped as Mother Goddess by Narmadeeya Brahmins.

Ghats of Narmada River

Narmada river is a holy river of Central India. It origins from Amarkantak hill station in Madhya Pradesh, India. Narmada river travels from Central India to Western India, passing through Madhya Pradesh State and Gujarat State. River is considered lifeline of these two states.

As Narmada river is a holy river and considered lifeline, so number of ghats (river-banks) are found in all the cities from where it passes through. In Jabalpur city one can find number of Narmada river ghats like Jelehri-ghat, Gwari-ghat, Tilwara ghat, Lamheta ghat, Bhedaghat or Bheraghat etc., visited by thousands of people every day. In order to praise the Narmada river, state government also encouraging local people to celebrate Narmada Mahotsava in Bheraghat tourist site.

Lets us find more about Ghats of River Narmada:

1. Narmada Kund - It is a holy place in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh from where Narmada river originates. As it is a origin of Narmada, thousands of devotees visits Narmada Kund in trip to Amarkantak. One can say it is a must see place in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, India.

2. Jelehari Ghat - It is close to GwariGhat on Narmada river in Jabalpur city. In comparision to other ghats of Narmada it is less crowded & peaceful ghat. One can spent sometime in peacefull atmosphere on this ghat. Here one can also judge the purity of Narmada water. Boating facility is also available to visitors from this ghat.

3. Gwarighat - It is popular Narmada ghat in Jabalpur city. Lot of Hindu followers use to put ash of thier dead relative into Narmada river on this ghat for peace of relieved soul. Other religious rituals are performed here. It is little bit crowded ghat of Narmada. Boating can also be enjoyed from this ghat by visitors. Those who are interested in hindu religion, its activities, rituals done on death of any relative, can visit this ghat to enhance their knowledge. Public transport facilities are available from main bus stand of Jabalpur city to reach Gwarighat of river Narmada.

4. Tilwara Ghat - Ashes of our Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi were put in river Narmada river from this Ghat. It is the same ghat visible from bridge on Jabalpur-Nagpur highway. Local people and some tourists do visit of Tilwaraghat in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India.

5. Lamheta Ghat - Lamheta ghat is about 3km. from Bhedaghat and about 16km. from Jabalpur city. Ghat was once in news due to finding of Dinosaur Eggs & other fossils. Its name is derived from adjoining village called Lamheta. It is less crowded and beautiful ghat.

6. Bhedaghat - It is also pronounced as Bheraghat. It is a famous tourist place close (about 25 km.) to Jabalpur city. Known for boating in between huge marble rocks. Bhedaghat is known for its scenic beauty with good accomodation facility and rural market. It has other tourist spots adjoining to it like Chausat Yogini Temple and Dhuandhar fall. M. P. Tourism has it hotel their for tourists.

7. Maheshwar - Maheshwar is popular tourist destination in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh State. Ghats of Maheshwar known for Shiv temples. Holy place for Hindus. It is close to Indore city. Maheshwar is also known for production of beautiful traditional hindu outfit: sarees. Tourists from all over the world visits ghats of Maheshwar every year.

8. Omkareshwar - Omkareshwar is a holy place in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is a island called Mandhata in Narmada river. Out of 12 revered Jyotirlingas in India, one such Jyotirlinga is in Omkareshwar. It close to another holy place called Maheshwar and Indore city. Omkareshwar is an island to be like the Hindu Om symbol.

9. Shuklatirth ghat -It is in Bharuch district of Gujarat state. It is a historical ghat. Now a days a popular picnic spot.

10. Chanod - It is situated in Gujarat State. It is a holy & sacred place on bank of Narmada river. Here all sort of rituals, done after death, are performed as per Hindu religion. To know more about hindu religious activities performed after death of any relative, one should visit Chanod ghat of river Narmada.

11. Vishwa Gayatri Snan Ghat - This ghat is also in Gujarat State. It is a Holy place with Aashram & Ghats on the bank of holy river Narmada. A beautiful ashram was made here on the banks of river Narmada known by the name of Vishwa Gayatri Brahmapeeth.

Rivers in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh has numerous rivers, the important ones being Narmada, Chambal, Betwa, Shipra, Sone, Mahanadi, Indrawati and Tapti. All these rivers have played a considerable role in making Madhya Pradesh what it is today - be it the cities, the culture, or the ravines.

Narmada River

The Narmada gained national prominence in the recent past when the Indian government proposed to build a dam on the river (seeAmarkantak - Narmada & Sone: Perennial Streams of Culture under Madhya Pradesh). The Narmada is an important river as it happens to be the most sacred of the five holy rivers of India; the other four being Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari and Kaveri. It is believed that a dip in any of these five rivers washes ones sins away. According to a legend, the river Ganga is polluted by millions of people bathing in it. To cleanse herself, Ganga acquires the form of a black cow and comes to the Narmada to bathe in its holy waters.

Narmada - The Lifeline of Madhya Pradesh

Earlier known as Reva and Mahakalasuta, the Narmada is also referred to as the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh. Originating in Amarkantak, the highest peak of the Vindhya Range, it flows westward through Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat before finally ending its journey in the Gulf of Khambat.

The 1300km long Narmada is the fifth longest river in India, and the oldest. Kalidasa, the 4th century poet, writes about the Narmada in his love poem, Meghdoota, which is about a yaksha (tree spirit) who was banished to Madhya Pradesh. The yaksha sent messages to his beloved in the Himalayas through the clouds. 

Two of the most well-known historical cities along the banks of the Narmada are Mahismati (present Maheshwar) and Tripuri (present Tewar in Jabalpur district). Archaeological findings in these regions indicate that human habitation existed here in very ancient times.

There are many fables about the origin of the Narmada. According to one of them, once, Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of the Universe, meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva's sweat accumulated in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river - the Narmada. Another legend has it that two teardrops that fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, yielded two rivers - the Narmada and the Sone.

Narmada: The source of the Narmada is a small tank called Narmada Kund located on the Amarkantak hill[6] (1,057 m (3,467.8 ft)), in the Anuppur District of eastern Madhya Pradesh. The river descends from the Amarkantak hill range at the Kapildhara falls over a cliff and meanders in the hills flowing through a tortuous course crossing the rocks and islands up to the ruined palace of Ramnagar. Between Ramnagar and Mandla, (25 km (15.5 mi)), further southeast, the course is comparatively straight with deep water devoid of rocky obstacles. The Banger joins from the left. The river then runs north-east in a narrow loop towards Jabalpur. Close to this city, after a fall of some (9 m (29.5 ft)), called the Dhuandhara, the fall of mist, it flows for (3 km (1.9 mi)), in a deep narrow channel through the magnesium limestone and basalt rocks called the Marble Rocks; from a width of about 90 m (295.3 ft), above, it is compressed in this channel of (18 m (59.1 ft)), only. Beyond this point up to its meeting the Arabian Sea, the Narmada enters three narrow valleys between the Vindhya scarps in the north and the Satpura range in the South. The southern extension of the valley is wider at most places. These three valley sections are separated by the closely approaching line of the scarps and the Satpura hills.

Emerging from the Marble Rocks the river enters its first fertile basin, which extends about 320 km (198.8 mi), with an average width of 35 km (21.7 mi), in the south. In the north, the valley is limited to the Barna-Bareli plain terminating at Barkhara hills opposite Hoshangabad. However, the hills again recede in the Kannod plains. The banks are about (12 m (39.4 ft)) high. It is in the first valley of the Narmada that many of its important tributaries from the south join it and bring the waters of the northern slopes of the Satpura hills. Among them are: the Sher, the Shakkar, the Dudhi, the Tawa (biggest tributary) & the Ganjal. The Hiran, the Barna, the Choral, the Karam and the Lohar are the important tributaries joining from the north.

Below Handia and Nemawar to Hiran fall (the deer's leap), the river is approached by hills from both sides. In this stretch the character of the river is varied. The Omkareshwar island, sacred to the Lord Shiva, is the most important river island in Madhya Pradesh. At first, the descent is rapid and the stream, quickening in pace, rushes over a barrier of rocks. sukanya The Sikta and the Kaveri join it below the Khandwa plain. At two points, at Mandhar, about40 km (24.9 mi), below Nemawar, and Dadrai, 40 km (24.9 mi), further down near Punasa, the river falls over a height of about 12 m (39.4 ft).

A few kilometres further down near Bareli and the crossing ghat of the Agra to Mumbai road, National Highway 3, the Narmada enters the Mandleshwar plain, the second basin about 180 km (111.8 mi) long and 65 km (40.4 mi) wide in the south. The northern strip of the basin is only 25 km (15.5 mi). The second valley section is broken only by Saheshwar Dhara fall. The early course of about 125 km (77.7 mi) up to Markari falls is met with a succession of cataracts and rapids from the elevated table land of Malwa to the low level of Gujarat plain. Towards the west of this basin, the hills draw very close but soon dwindle down.

Below Makrai, the river flows between Vadodara district and Narmada district and then meanders through the rich plain of Bharuch district of Gujarat state. The banks are high between the layers of old alluvial deposits, hardened mud, gravels of nodular limestone and sand. The width of the river spans from about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) at Makrai to 3 km (1.9 mi) near Bharuch and to an estuary of 21 km (13.0 mi) at the Gulf of Khambat. An old channel of the river, 1 km (0.6 mi) to 2 km (1.2 mi) south from the present one, is very clear below Bharuch. The Karanjan and the Orsing are the most important tributaries in the original course. The former joins at Rundh and the latter at Vyas in Vadodara district of Gujarat, opposite each other and form a Triveni (confluence of three rivers) on the Narmada. The Amaravati and the Bhukhi are other tributaries of significance. Opposite the mouth of the Bhukhi is a large drift called Alia Bet or Kadaria Bet.

The tidal rise is felt up to 32 km (19.9 mi) above Bharuch, where the neap tides rise to about a metre and spring tide 3.5 m (11.5 ft). The river is navigable for vessels of the burthen of 95 tonnes (i.e., 380 Bombay candies) up to Bharuch and for vessels up to 35 tonnes (140 Bombay candies) up to Shamlapitha or Ghangdia. The small vessels (10 tonnes) voyage up to Tilakawada in Gujarat. There are sand bases and shoals at mouth and at Bharuch. The nearby island of Kabirvad, in the Narmada River, features a gigantic Banyan tree, which covers 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres).


go to top