Top 10 Most Popular Dams in India

Dams are an important part of the Indian infrastructure. They help in regulating water supply, flood control, and irrigation. They also generate electricity and provide a source of water for drinking and agricultural use. India is a country with a population of 1.3 billion people, and a rapidly growing economy. With such large numbers, it is not surprising that India has the world’s second-largest dam in terms of surface area and the third-largest dam in terms of volume. India is home to some of the most beautiful and largest dams in the world. The size and number of the dams in India have increased over the years. India has a total of 4,500 large dams which is one-fifth of the world’s total.

What is the Dam?

A dam is a man-made structure designed to control, store, and manage water flow in rivers, streams, or other water bodies. Dams serve a variety of purposes, including flood control, water storage for irrigation, water supply for human consumption and industrial use, hydropower generation, and recreation. They are typically constructed using materials such as concrete, rock, earth, or a combination of these, forming a barrier that impedes the natural flow of water and creates a reservoir behind the dam.

The construction of dams involves careful engineering and design to ensure their structural integrity and to manage the various impacts they can have on the environment and surrounding communities. While dams provide essential benefits like water storage and electricity generation, they can also lead to ecological changes, alter aquatic habitats, and sometimes even displace communities due to the flooding of large areas. Striking a balance between the advantages and potential drawbacks of dam construction is a complex task that requires thorough planning, environmental assessment, and stakeholder engagement.

Types of Dam:

There are several types of dams, each designed to cater to specific purposes and environmental conditions. Here are a few prominent types:

1. Arch Dam:

An arch dam is a remarkable feat of engineering that relies on the curvature of its design to distribute the force of the impounded water to the canyon walls on either side. This design creates a natural equilibrium between the water’s pressure and the dam’s structural integrity. Arch dams are ideally suited for narrow canyons with steep rock walls, as the geometry of the dam itself ensures stability. An iconic example of an arch dam is the Hoover Dam in the United States, a towering structure that tames the Colorado River and generates hydroelectric power for the region.

2. Gravity Dam:

dams are characterized by their sheer mass and reliance on the force of gravity to counteract the water pressure. These dams are typically constructed using concrete and sometimes masonry, enabling them to resist the thrust of the water. Their simple design makes them versatile, suitable for a range of environments. The Grand Coulee Dam in the United States, one of the largest concrete structures globally, is a prime illustration of a gravity dam. Its imposing presence harnesses the Columbia River to generate electricity and control water flow for irrigation.

3. Arch-Gravity Dam:

An arch-gravity dam combines the principles of both arch and gravity dams, utilizing the arch shape to bolster the dam’s stability while also relying on the weight of the structure to withstand the water’s force. This hybrid design is particularly effective for wider canyons with strong foundations. The Glen Canyon Dam in the United States exemplifies an arch-gravity dam, standing as a sentinel over the Colorado River and serving as a vital source of hydroelectric power.

4. Barrages:

Barrages are structures that span across rivers or estuaries, often intended to regulate water flow, create reservoirs, and sometimes prevent saltwater intrusion into freshwater areas. Unlike traditional dams, barrages can include gates and sluices that allow controlled water release. The Thames Barrier in the United Kingdom is an impressive example of a barrage, safeguarding London from tidal surges and ensuring stable river conditions.

5. Embankment Dams:

Embankment dams, also known as earth dams, rely on compacted earth, rock, and sometimes additional materials to create a barrier against the water. These dams are versatile and relatively quick to construct, making them suitable for various purposes, including flood control and water storage for irrigation. The Tarbela Dam in Pakistan is a prominent embankment dam that provides vital water resources for agriculture and power generation.

6. Rock-Fill Dams:

Rock-fill dams are constructed using large quantities of rocks and boulders. These materials are placed and compacted to create a stable structure. Rock-fill dams are particularly well-suited for sites where suitable construction materials are abundant. These dams can adapt to the natural terrain and often have a lower environmental impact due to reduced concrete usage.

7. Concrete-Face Rock-Fill Dams:

These dams combine the principles of rock-fill and concrete dams. They consist of a rock-fill core and a concrete outer shell or facing. The concrete provides additional strength and impermeability, while the rock-fill core contributes to stability. This type of dam is favored when the foundation is suitable for rock-fill construction but requires improved sealing against water flow. The Oroville Dam in the United States showcases the effectiveness of concrete-face rock-fill dam design, contributing to water supply, flood control, and hydroelectric power.

8. Earth-Fill Dams:

Earth-fill dams, also known as earthen dams, are constructed using compacted layers of soil, clay, sand, and gravel. These dams rely on the weight and density of the fill material to resist the pressure of the impounded water. Earth-fill dams are versatile and can be adapted to various landscapes. They are commonly used for irrigation, flood control, and water storage. The Aswan High Dam in Egypt is a notable example of an earth-fill dam that provides essential water resources for agriculture and electricity generation.

Understanding the diverse types of dams and their specific attributes is crucial for engineers and policymakers when considering the most suitable dam design for a given location and purpose. Each dam type has its strengths and limitations, which need to be carefully weighed against the environmental impact, local conditions, and the benefits they offer in terms of water management, energy production, and protection against flooding.

Major Dams in India

The significant dams across India have played a pivotal role in enhancing livelihoods through various avenues:

  1. Ensuring ample water supply for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs.
  2. Generating hydroelectric power and facilitating efficient river navigation.
  3. These noteworthy Indian dams and their expansive reservoirs offer recreational opportunities, inviting activities like fishing and boating.
  4. They’ve also proven instrumental in mitigating flood occurrences.


Dams In India
Highest Dam in India Tehri Dam(Uttarakhand) Dams Height: 260.5 meters

Length: 575 meters
River: Bhagirathi River
Location: Uttarakhand
Year of completion:2006 (1st phase

Longest Dam in India Hirakud Dam (Odisha) Total Length: 25.79 km (16.03 mi)
Length of Main Dam:4.8 km (3.0 mi)
River: Mahanadi
Location: Odisha
Year of completion:1953
Oldest Dam in India Kallanai Dam(Tamil Nadu) River: Kaveri
Location: Tamil Nadu
Year of completion: 100 BC –100 AD

The list of some major dams in India have been given below:

List Of Major Dams in India State River
Bhavani Sagar dam Tamil Nadu Bhavani
Tungabhadra Dam Karnataka Tungabhadra
Rihand Dam Uttar Pradesh Rihand
Maithon Dam Jharkhand Barakar
Koyna Dam Maharashtra Koyna
Bisalpur Dam Rajasthan Banas
Mettur Dam Tamil Nadu Kaveri
Krishnarajasagar Dam Karnataka Kaveri
Indira Sagar Dam Madhya Pradesh Narmada
Cheruthoni Dam Kerala Cheruthoni
Sardar Sarovar Dam Gujarat Narmada
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam Telangana Krishna
Hirakud dam Odisha Mahanadi
Bhakra Nangal Dam Punjab-Himachal Pradesh Border Sutlej
Tehri Dam Uttarakhand Bhagirathi

List of Top 10 Dams in India

India boasts an impressive array of dams that contribute significantly to the nation’s development. Among the top 10 dams in the country, each a testament to engineering prowess and strategic water management, stand as pillars of progress. These dams, such as the Bhakra Dam, Sardar Sarovar Dam, and Tehri Dam, not only ensure a steady water supply for diverse needs but also harness hydroelectric power generation, bolster irrigation capabilities, and provide recreational spaces. In their grandeur, they symbolize India’s commitment to sustainable resource utilization and socio-economic advancement.

1. Bhakra Dam, Himachal Pradesh

Bhakra Dam is the second largest dam in India. It is located on the Sutlej River in Himachal Pradesh. The dam was completed in 1963 and has a length of 824 meters, height of 85 meters and a reservoir capacity of 4.7 million cubic metres.

The construction of Bhakra Dam had many challenges, such as the location being prone to earthquakes, landslides and floods. Construction took over 12 years to complete due to these challenges.

Bhakra Dam has many benefits for India, such as providing water for irrigation and power generation. It also provides drinking water for people living downstream from it by reducing flooding damage downstream from the dam site.

Height: 226 m
Length: 520 m
Type: Concrete Gravity dam
Built across: Satluj River
Located in: Himachal Pradesh
Storage Capacity: 7,501,775 acre-feet
Installed Capacity: 1375 MW (Megawatt)

2. Tehri Dam, Uttarakhand

Tehri Dam is a multipurpose dam built on the Bhagirathi River near Tehri in Uttarakhand, India. The dam has been constructed for hydroelectric power production, irrigation and flood control.

The Tehri Dam is one of the most popular dams in India. It is a multipurpose dam built on the Bhagirathi River near Tehri in Uttarakhand, India. The dam has been constructed for hydroelectric power production, irrigation and flood control purposes.

The construction of this dam was started on April 14, 1961 and it was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi on November 16, 1980.

Height: 260 m
Length: 575 m
Type: Rockfill dam
Built across: Bhagirathi River
Located in: Uttarakhand
Storage Capacity: 2,00,000 acre-feet
Installed Capacity: 1000 MW (Megawatt)

3. Indira Sagar Dam (Punasa Dam), Madhya Pradesh

The Indira Sagar Dam is a dam in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. The Indira Sagar Dam is one of the largest dams in India and the second largest dam in Madhya Pradesh. It is located on the Narmada River and has a capacity of more than 3,000 million cubic feet. It is one of the largest dams in India and also one of the largest earth dams in Asia. The dam was completed in 1979. It is used to provide irrigation water for agriculture and drinking water for some cities.

The Indira Sagar Dam has a height of 152 meters and length of 1,850 meters. It provides irrigation water to more than 1,200,000 acres (5,000 km²) of land through a canal system that supplies water to Madhya Pradesh as well as parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra states.

Height: 138.6 m
Length: 1210 m
Type: Concrete Gravity dam
Built across: Narmada River
Located in: Gujarat
Storage Capacity: 7,701,775 acre-feet
Installed Capacity: 1450 MW (Megawatt)

4. Koyna Dam – Lake Tapping, Maharashtra

Koyna Dam is the largest dam in India. The Koyna Dam is a dam on the Koyna River in Maharashtra, India. It was constructed between 1960 and 1967 for the purposes of irrigation, water supply and hydroelectric power generation.

The Koyna Dam is one of the most popular dams in India. It is situated on the river Koyna near village Wadi in Satara district, about 160 km from Pune. The dam has created a reservoir with a capacity of 4.7 million cubic metres of water which irrigates 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) during monsoon season and provides drinking water to Pune city.

Height: 103 m
Length: 807.22 m
Type: Rubble-concrete dam
Built across: Koyna River
Located in: Maharashtra
Storage Capacity: 2,267,900 acre-feet
Installed capacity: 1,920 MW (Megawatt)

5. Narmada Dam (Sardar Sarovar Dam), Gujarat

Narmada Dam is a dam built across the Narmada River. It is the largest dam in India and has been constructed to provide water for irrigation, hydro-electricity, and drinking water.

The dam was completed in 1960s. It is one of the most important dams in India because it provides water for irrigation to an area of 1.2 million hectares. It also supplies water to cities like Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara, Surat etc., which are located downstream on this river.

The construction of this dam was started by Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru on 5th April 1961 and completed on 15th October 1963 by his daughter Indira Gandhi who was then Prime Minister of India.

Height: 138.6 m
Length: 1210 m
Type: Concrete Gravity dam
Built across: Narmada River
Located in: Gujarat
Storage Capacity: 7,701,775 acre-feet
Installed Capacity: 1450 MW (Megawatt)

6. Gandhi Sagar Dam, Madhya Pradesh

Gandhi Sagar Dam is a dam located in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the largest dams in India and also one of the largest earthen dams in Asia. Gandhi Sagar Dam was constructed between 1962-1967 by the Madhya Pradesh Irrigation Department.

The dam can store up to 4,000 million cubic meters of water at its full capacity, which is enough to meet the agricultural requirements for about 3 million hectares (7,500 square miles) for one year. The dam has a length of 2,263 meters (7,450 ft) and a height of 62 meters (203 ft). The dam has two power stations with an installed capacity of 1,200 MW each.

Height: 92 m
Length: 653 m
Type: Concrete Gravity dam
Built across: Kaveri River
Located in: Tamil Nadu
Storage Capacity: 9,890,701 acre-feet
Installed capacity: 1000 MW (Megawatt)

7. Bhaktiyarpuram Dam, Bihar


The Bakhtiyarpur Dam is a dam on the Gandak River in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The dam is constructed across the Gandak river at Bakhtiyarpur in Patna district of Bihar.

The Bakhtiyarpur Dam project was initiated by the Government of India for irrigation purpose in 1974. The construction work on this project was started with technical assistance from Soviet Union and completed in 1984, as a joint venture between India and Soviet Union.

8. Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Andhra Pradesh


Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is the second largest dam in India by volume and the first largest dam by hydro-power generation capacity. It is located on the Krishna River in Nagarjuna Sagar, Nalgonda district of Telangana.

Nagarjuna Sagar Dam was constructed as a part of a larger irrigation project on the river Krishna. The main purpose of this project was to provide irrigation facilities for about 18,000 square kilometres of land.

The construction started in 1961 and it was completed in 1967. The reservoir was created with a live storage capacity of 8,405 million cubic metres which is used for irrigating an area of 1,735 square kilometres.

It has 2 power stations with installed capacity of 1,540 MW generating 5 billion kWh per year.

Height: 124 m
Length: 1550 m
Type: Masonry dam
Built across: Krishna River
Located in: Andhra Pradesh
Storage Capacity: 11.472 billion cubic metres
Installed capacity: 816 MW (Megawatt)

10. Hirakud Dam, Odisha


Hirakud Dam is the largest dam in India. It is located on the Mahanadi River in Odisha. The dam was constructed between 1948 and 1956 by the Government of India. Hirakud Dam is a multipurpose project that not only provides irrigation to a vast area of land, but also provides electricity for industries and homes in India.

The Hirakud Dam has a length of 7,524 feet and a height of 224 feet from the foundation level to its highest point. The reservoir created by this dam has an area of 5,500 square miles and can hold about 8 billion cubic meters of water at full capacity.

Height: 60.96 m
Length: 61 m
Type: Composite dam and reservoir
Built Across: Mahanadi River
Located in: Odisha
Storage Capacity: 4716736.4 acre-feet
Installed Capacity: 347.5 MW (Megawatt)

10. Tungabhadra Dam, Karnataka


The Tungabhadra Dam is one of the major dams in India. Tungabhadra Dam is a dam on the Tungabhadra River in the South Indian state of Karnataka, about 30 km from Hospet. It is one of the largest earthen dams in the world.

The dam has a height of 121 m and a length of 1,854 m with a gross storage capacity of 9,569 million cubic metres. The reservoir created by this dam is called Tungabhadra Reservoir or Lower Tungabhadra Project.

The construction of this dam was completed in 1955. A total of 12,000 people were displaced to build this dam. The dam has a height of 121 meters and a length of 544 meters and has a capacity to store water up to 18 billion cubic metres.

How many dams are in India?

There are more than 45,000 dams in India. The first dam was built on the River Ganga in 1894.

Dams are used for a variety of purposes like irrigation, water storage, hydroelectricity generation, and flood control. They are also used for recreational activities like boating and fishing.

The construction of dams is seen as controversial as it has been known to cause displacement of people from their homes and sometimes lead to flooding which can be disastrous for the environment.

Which is the biggest dam in India?

The biggest dam in India is the Hirakud Dam. It is located on the Mahanadi River in Odisha and was built during 1955-1960. The dam has a height of 230 meters and a length of 1,600 meters. It is also one of the longest dams in India.

Which is the smallest dam of India?

There are about 400 dams in India, but the smallest one is the Bhakra Dam.

The Bhakra Dam is a gravity dam on the Sutlej River near Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh. It was constructed between 1954 and 1962 by the Indian government with assistance from Canada and America. The dam is located on the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, it's also known as "the lifeline of Western India".

Which is oldest dam in India?

The oldest dam in India is the Grand Anicut, built in the first century AD.

The Grand Anicut is a dam built across the Kaveri river near Tiruchirappalli. It was built by the Chola king Karikala Cholan in the 1st century AD.

Which is deepest dam in India?

The deepest dam in India is the Hirakud Dam. It is located on the Mahanadi River in Odisha. The height of the dam is 240 meters and it has a length of 1,600 meters.

Hirakud Dam is one of the oldest dams in India and it was completed in 1957. It was built to provide irrigation for dry areas and to generate power for nearby industries. The reservoir behind it can store about 7,000 million cubic feet of water which provides irrigation for about 12% of Odisha's agricultural land.


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