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Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

Nagarjuna Sagar dam relates the saga of  architectural and technological triumph of mankind over nature! Just 150 kms from Hyderabad, is located the largest dam in Asia and the tallest masonary dam - Nagarjuna Sagar dam.

Truly a pride of India, it stands aloft on the Krishna river supplying water for irrigation to adjoining districts of Nalgonda, Khammam, Guntur and Prakasam. The dam is also one of the largest networks of canal systems.

Dam in Nalgonda

Fast Facts About Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

  • Construction of dam completed in the year: 1969
  • Construction duration of  dam: 1955 and 1967
  • No.of Gates: 26
  • Dimension: Height 124 mts. and length 1,550 metres.
  • Storage capacity of reservoir: Up to 11,472 million cubic metres.
  • Best Time to Visit: August to February
  • District: Nalgonda

Did you know that Nagarjuna Sagar dam is actually constructed using stone rather than concrete? These stones were supplied from Sunkesula quarries nearby while the sand came from Rayavaram stream and Halia river.

The dam is also a multipurpose irrigation project (part of Green Revolution in India) and hydro-electric project. The turbines are located towards Nalgonda (Pylon Colony) and also towards Guntur side (Vijayapuri South) of the river. The dam also provides electric power to the national grid. The lake behind the dam is the third largest man-made lake in the world!

Tourist Attractions near Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

There are some very popular tourist sites near this dam and you can give your visit a tinge of an educational tour too! Tourist places near Nagarjuna Sagar dam include:

Buddhist attractions near Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

  • Nagarjunakonda Island and Museum
  • Ethipothala waterfalls (14 kms. from dam - Combination of three streams namely Chandravanka Vagu, Nakkala Vagu and Tummala Vagu.
  • Srisailam Wildlife Reserve (60 kms. from dam)
  • Anupu, site of Buddhist excavations (17 kms.from Nagarjuna Bus Station and 8 kms. from Boat Launch Station)
  • Laxmi Chennakesava Swamy Temple (55 kms. from dam). Located on on NH1 after Macherla.
  • Amaravathi (105 kms. from dam)
  • Srisailam or Sriparvata (a pilgrimage centre of Lord Shiva and one of the 12 Jyotirlingas located on Rishabgiri hills, 120 kms. from dam)

How To Reach Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

The nearest airport is Hyderabad airport which is 150 kms. from Nagarjuna Sagar dam site. If you decide to travel by bus, there are regular buses from Guntur and Hyderabad to the the dam location. Macheria Railway Station is the nearest

History of Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

The dam was constructed in order to utilize excess waters of river Krishna. The proposal for such use was initially laid forward by the Nizam of Hyderabad. He engaged British engineers for this purpose in 1903. Siddeswaram, Hyderabad and Pulichintala were some of the sites chosen for construction of the reservoirs. However, Raja Vasireddy Ramagopala Krishna Maheswar Prasad (Raja of Muktyala) made a donation of his land of about 55000 acres along with 55 million British Pounds, proposed site and design for the construction of the dam.
The earlier name of Nagarjuna Sagar was Nandikonda. Nagarjuna Sagar dam is referred to as 'Green Temple' due to being a part of the Green revolution prevalent in India during that time. The dam was built under competent leadership of engineer Shri K.L. Rao. Inauguration of the dam was done by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 10 December, 1955. Smt. Indira Gandhi released reservoir water into the Left and Right canals in the year 1967. The Hydro power Project was constructed  along with more such units in the later years.

Tourist attractions in Nalgonda

While the dam was being constructed, the ancient Buddhist settlement at the site were submerged into the water! This Buddhist settlement was Nagarjunakonda - the capital of the Ikshvaku dynasty in forst and second century who were also the successors of the Satavahanas in the Eastern Deccan. 30 buddhist monasteries, mant precious art works, ancient inscriptions were found at the site. However, all these were carefully relocated to Nagarjuna Hill and also to the mainland, keeping in mind their historical significance. 

About 45,000 to 70,000 workers worked hard to construct the dam. 52 villages were submerged and the affected people were relocated to safer places.

Visitors generally visit the dam during monsoon season when all the 26 gates of the dam are opened and the gushing water falling from a height of over 100 metres looks mesmerizing!

Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

The Right canal is named Jawahar canal and is 203 kms. long. The Left canal is named Lalbahadur Shastri canal and is 295 kms. long. The Nagarjuna Sagar dam has aided to improve the economy of Nalgonda district and other adjoining districts. The first hydroelectric plant unit was commissioned on 7 March 1978. Water level in the Nagarjunasagar reservoir is maintained by releasing water from the upstream Srisailam reservoir during dry season.

Controversy for Dam Water

The Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) has been constituted for distributing water between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh both of which stake a claim on the dam water. Both the states require water for irrigation of Kharif and Rabi crops, industrial and drinking purposes.

Do you know that the site where Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is located today was earlier known as Vijayapuri? The name 'Nagarjuna' comes from a  very revered Buddhist monk named Nagarjuna who also governed the Sangha for nearly 60 years during the 2nd century. Due to this fact, Nagarjuna Sagar also has archaeological significance and an important landmark in South India for Buddhist civilization.

Nagarjunakonda in Nagarjuna Sagar

This is an island museum where excavated remains and relics of the Buddhist civilization dating back to 3rd Century A.D have been displayed for tourists. The island is situated in the middle of a man-made lake famous as Nagarjunasagar lake. The museum looks like a Buddhist Vihara and houses a collection of Buddhist relics which include an ear ring believed to be of the Buddha, a small tooth, coins, jewellery, monolithic statue of the Buddha etc. Mahachaitya - the main stupa of Nagarjunakonda (konda means hill in Telugu language) comprises of sacred relics of the Buddha.
Many stupas, viharas, mandapams and chaityas have been unearthed during excavations at the site. These include ruins of an ancient Buddhist university too! All these have been carefully reconstructed at Anupu, 4 kms. from the reservoir.

Andhra Pradesh got its nick name 'Rice bowl of India' due to irrigation waters from the dam and districts in Telangana too have been able to uplift their economy owing to irrigation water and power supply from Nagarjuna Sagar Dam.

The dam stands as a testimony of advancement of mankind, the motherly love for conservation of Buddhist civilization so faithfully done in and around the site, the lesson that 'modern temple' includes technology and scientific thought... Let the free flowing waters of the dam also bring the advice of bonding and brotherhood between neighbouring regions and teach the beauty of sharing!

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