Visit to the Highest Dam of India – Tehri Dam Uttarakhand

Last week, we had to visit Tehri dam Uttarakhand officially and the first thing which struck my mind was – is this the same place where there is the highest dam of India with a unique architecture, which took more than 35years for completion and was in the limelight for protests by the locals and environmental activists. Yes! it was same and also a good chance for me to explore the unknown facts about dam from local along with work.

Route to Tehri Dam from Delhi: Delhi – Ghaziabad – Roorkee – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Chamba – Tehri

Distance from Delhi: 324 Km

Time to reach Tehri from Delhi: 10 -11 hrs

Places to Halt in between : Haridwar, Rishikesh, Chamba

Little Introduction to Tehri Dam Uttarakhand

Tehri Dam Uttarakhand is the highest dam of India, second highest in Asia and 8th in the world. It is 855 feet high and is located on the river bed of sacred River Bhagirathi. The Dam generates 1000 MW hydroelectricity and further has an additional 1000 MW capacity of storing pumped hydroelectricity.

Interesting is that the preliminary investigation of Tehri dam started in 1961 and the construction completed in 2006. That means just or long 45 years for completion. I was too anxious too find out; was there something unique or different about it and what exactly took so long for its completion?

So, here is the answer. The main reason for so long construction span and the delay was protests by locals and environmental activist – Sundarlal Bhauguna (You might have heard about Tehri Dam Andolan).  

Bridge on the way to Tehri Dam Uttarakhand

The detailed issues raised before and during construction of Tehri Dam Uttarakhand were:

  • Building a dam on the Himalayan foothills which is extremely a weak ecosystem can lead to an imbalance in the whole environment of that belt.
  • Old Tehri village was on the banks of river Bhagirathi. So, constructing a dam on the bank means relocating more than 1, 00,000 people to some newly constructed area with proper resettlement facilities.
  • The Tehri belt of Garhwal district falls in seismic zone 5, so very much prone to earthquakes of high magnitudes which can be 8 or more. And earthquake of such high magnitude means loss of not only Tehri village but other nearby villages too.
  • The sacred belief of Hindus – that Bhagirathi is a sacred river and nothing should be constructed on it.

Tehri Dam Uttarakhand

So, there were on and off going protests and strikes at the Tehri Village. The Tehri Dam, Uttarakhand first construction started in 1978.  And it was halted again due to political instabilities. In 1986 USSR provided technical and financial assistance. In 1988 THDC (Tehri Hydro Development Corporation) was formed to take this project ahead. And finally, the construction was completed in 2006 considering all the issues raised by locals and environmental activist.

Here are the interesting facts about the Tehri dam Uttarakhand.

  • The dam is unique in its architecture as it is a rock and earth – fill embankment dam.
  • The whole of the old Tehri village was relocated to hill top which is now known as New Tehri.
  • The dam can sustain an earthquake of magnitude more than 8.4, without causing any destruction. (Cool for the region which comes in seismic zone 5).
  • Hindus believe is retained and Bhagirathi River flows as such, just that the water levels have dipped because of the water storage in the reservoirs.

Few Attractions near Tehri Dam Uttarakhand

  1. Tehri Lake

Tehri Lake came into existence only with the construction of Tehri Dam. The Lake offers a lot of adventurous water sports like boating, rafting, Kayaking. There are too plans to increase the list by adding more water and aerial sports like water zorbing, canoeing, scuba diving,  paragliding and hot air balloon.  The Uttarakhand Tourism Board holds an Asia’s largest lake Adventure festival at Tehri Lake.

Tehri Lake near Tehri Dam in uttarakhand

  1. Koteshwar Dam

The Koteshwar Dam is a gravity dam located 22 km ahead of Tehri Dam. It is a part of Tehri Hydropower complex and generates 400 MW Hydroelectricity. Different is there is a beautiful replica of Kedarnath temple on one of the tunnels face, known as Shakti Dawar. Look out the detailing in the picture and this detailing was carved by a single mason in 2 months, just after a single visit to Kedarnath. One needs a special permission to experience all this. (Luckily, I had one this time)

  • Shakti Dawar of Koteshwar Dam, Tehri Dam Uttrakhand
  • Koteshwar Dam View from Hill top, Tehri Dam Uttrakhand
  • Koteshwar Dam - part of Tehri Dam, Uttrakhand

  1. Koteshwar Mahadev Temple

The Koteshwar Mahadev Temple is in the form of the cave and is located on the bank of river Alaknanda. Legends believe that Lord Shiva stayed and meditated here for certain time when devil Bhasmasur tried to kill him. The interesting here is Gange’s garland the temple and flow around it.

Koteshwar Mahadev Temple, Tehri Dam, Uttarakhand

This is what I experienced and loved at Tehri Dam Uttrakhand. If you want to experience the same or planning a tour to Tehri Dam Uttarakhand; click here for information.

If you like it Pin it Visit to the highest dam of India- Tehri Dam Utatrakhand

67 thoughts on “Visit to the Highest Dam of India – Tehri Dam Uttarakhand”

  • I came across your blogpost while for information on Tehri Dam; I am supposed to help a friend’s son for his homework. While this was intended to be just for information-purpose, but now you have me itching to go to Tehri Dam as soon as I can manage.
    Some times I wonder, what would people do if others didn’t share their experiences?

    • Thanks Divya. It feels so happy to know that you could search this down on google.
      I agree we get to knew so much from others experience and it has become so so important.

  • This is really cool. First time reading about this dam. It looks similar to the Hoover dam which I will hopefully be able to see in a few weeks time! I found your facts really interesting!

  • This made me smile, I guess visiting a dam isn’t no 1 tourist spot when you visit India but it looks like a really interesting place to visit. India is on my bucket list. Love how you describe what is near too, really helpful 🙂

    • I know Becky visiting a dam isn’t someone’s priority while traveling to India. But this whole Belt of Uttrakhand is a gem in itself. I will introduce to some more untouched beautiful places on this route in mu coming posts.

  • This is wonderful. I just realized that I haven’t really been to nor seen a lot of dams. It’s interesting how much hard work and labour was put out to build such structure. Really amazing.

  • Very well detailed post, thanks for sharing. I love to visit this place when we will do our trip to India soon, but let’s see if my girlfriend is interested in it too 😀

  • What an interesting place! Those were some huge obstacles to overcome. Especially moving a whole town! I can understand why construction took so long

  • Impressive construction for sure. I rad about the dam a few years ago, but never considered the reasons for the long construction time. I always thought that it had to do with the remote area. Never considered the earthquake risk in the region, but it would be interesting to read about how they have adopted the construction to withstand the possible forces. 🙂

  • Your photos are amazing! That dam is super high up. I’ve actually never seen a dam up close, even though we have the famous Hoover Dam in the United States. So I would be interested to see this one, even with the controversy over the protests.

  • Nice informational article. It is a shame about the protests, because dams are so important in water supply and a bonus it’s a hydo dam which will generate electricity.

    • Tony, I agree with you on shame for protests and its importance but there were too many other reasons involved with it too. And being in India I see the whole picture of development is never shown. It is just a statement made. So, how could people agree just on words?

  • I haven’t visited a dam, and this is the first time that a dam can be a tourist attraction – which works too! Am glad that this dam could cater more areas and not having problem with possible drought.

    • Blair, this belt of Uttrakhand is not much explored and now the government is taking initiatives for its development and tourism. They too have started hosting the biggest Lake festival on Tehri Lake, once a year.

  • This is a very interesting post. Being the highest dam in India, and the 8th highest in the world, I imagine it is quite impressive to see. I like that you also included nearby attractions, the water sports at Tehri Lake sound like fun.

  • I have never visited a Dam before but I bet its quite exciting to walk on top if it, especially when Tehri Dam is the highest in India. The photos of the lake are very beautiful too, I like the green tint of the water.

  • When I read the 35 years to complete, I thought that sounded crazy. However, looking at your photos, I can see why. It’s huge! I’d love to visit some of the surrounding attractions you mentioned too.

  • That is a lovely dam indeed. It is interesting how some of the dams have such interesting stuff around it. The Koteshwar temple caught my attention in this one. And then there are those incredible views from the dam itself. Thanks for sharing this.

  • I just realized that I’ve never visited a dam, not even back home in the U.S. I’ve never heard of this part of India so thank you for introducing me to it.

  • Tehri dam is a marvelous display of architectural advances. It’s sheer height and capacity stunned me! What amazed me more was the fact that the dam is earthquake proof! This is just so amazing! The dam stands as a testimony to the engineering skills of man set amidst the beauty of nature.

  • This is so cool. I randomly keep searching more places to explore and that is a lot of work. This post has come up as bliss. However, I would like to know more. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Wow so interesting. Did you find out if there has been a greater environmental impact on the ecosystem (other than the building)? Thanks for sharing!!

  • We must have read about this dam in school then now after a long time. It was good to brush up some general knowledge class from school. Though there was a lot of opposition on building the dam looks like they have tried their best to maintain a harmony with nature and the Hindu beliefs. Good to know about the water activities they arrange in Tehri lake and that Uttrakhand Tourism Board holds an Asia’s largest lake Adventure festival. Interesting!

  • The Tehri Dam looks magnificent, an amazing man-made wonder and marvelous piece of engineering. Even the Tehri Lake looks quite surreal. I’d love to explore it some day in my life!

  • I hope the dam does more good to the area, and doesn’t cause any damage. I guess the ancient belief that the river is sacred and nothing should be constructed on it, was purposefully created so that people refrain from playing with the delicate balance of this part of the region. As you called it out, it is an earthquake zone. There must have been architectural brilliance employed to create this dam in the himalayas and I hope it’s way too strong.

  • 45 years to finish the construction of Tehri dam?! What a long journey from the first stone there until the last one… For architect lovers dam are great constructions, I understand the people who don’t want let them build it because of the environment. It is not an easy subject!

  • The is the first time I’ve heard of this dam. It definitely took a while to build – moving 100,000 people must have been some challenge. I’m glad they’re settled nearby. I love your photos, especially the one of the little shrine.

  • Interesting article about dams especially as I haven’t visited more than two, I think. Also as an Asian, now I am wondering which got the #1 spot of the highest dam before Tehri Dam. Must be interesting to know! Also, I think it is well planned and constructed. As we are very prone to earthquakes in this part of the earth, withstanding magnitude of 8 is already a feat!

  • That’s interesting to hear about all the protests involved in the making of the hydro dam. I can understand people not wanting their land to change. These are difficult issues when the demand for electricity increases with more and more people born every day.

  • I have never been to India but I can only actually imagine what the roads are like if it takes 10-11 hours to go 324 kms. It must be a wild ride! The dam looks really beautiful and the surroundings look amazing also. You mention water sports but is it warm? I imagine it being cold for some reason haha.

  • Loved these sights. I have made many trips to Garhwal but this Tehri area has not been covered. I am plannng to sort this out this summer. That shade of green of the river is irresistible… isn’t it?

  • I have been to Tehri Dam during my trips in Uttarakhand. But I was not aware of a lot of interesting facts that you have included in your post. I must say that Its quite an informative post . The view of the dam is quite scenic though.

  • Even though I have herd of Tehri dam, I have never been to the place. Even though the place is only around 320kms from Delhi, it is surprising that it takes 10-11 hours. Are the roads really bad? An entire village was moved for this? Did the movement benefit them?

  • I think this is the first blog post I am reading on this dam. Usually photography of dams are prohibited for security reasons. The info is sensitive. When I visited Gajanur dam near Shimoga I remember the guard being very strict about no photography.

  • Tehri dam is a marvel according to me. The sheerness of its size blew me out. I am glad I read the detail history behind its existence. You have explained it so beautifully. Your pictures are mind blowing, it is very tempting for me. I am gonna visit one day for sure.

  • Nice locations and the dam looks architectural marvel. The pictures are the good way to give all of us, a glimpse of the location. Hope to see this Tehri dam sometime in the future. Thanks for the good work. Keep it up.

  • What gorgeous colors of that water. The dam sure took a long time and that was something I did not know. I would love to spend some more time at the lake as well. If somehow reminds me of Dawki river… Maybe it is the colors. Gorgeous photos

  • I lived in Uttrakhand for a while but I didn’t visit this dam, the Tehri Lake looks really amazing, I couldn’t have seen it and figured its in Uttrakhand to be honest! Its an interesting fact that the dam took 35 years to construct and I do remember hearing about a dam in Uttrakhand which villagers were opposed to having because it would lead to their losing homes and moving. Not sure if it was this one or another one.

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