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).
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.
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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
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.