Bhakra Dam

Bhakra Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Sutlej River in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh in northern India. The dam forms the Govind Sagar reservoir.

Bhakra Nangal Dam
Bhakra Dam Aug 15 2008.JPG
The Bhakra Dam
Bhakra Dam is located in India
Bhakra Dam
Bhakra Dam in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh
Official nameBhakra Dam
LocationBilaspur district, Himachal Pradesh, India
Coordinates31°24′39″N 76°26′0″E / 31.41083°N 76.43333°E / 31.41083; 76.43333Coordinates: 31°24′39″N 76°26′0″E / 31.41083°N 76.43333°E / 31.41083; 76.43333
Construction began1948
Opening date1963
Construction cost245.28 crore (equivalent to 160 billion or US$2.3 billion in 2019)
Dam and spillways
Type of damConcrete gravity
ImpoundsSatluj River
Height741 ft (226 m)
Length1,700 ft (520 m)
Width (crest)30 ft (9.1 m)
Width (base)625 ft (191 m)
Spillway typeControlled, overflow
CreatesGobindsagar Reservoir
Total capacity9.340 km3
Surface area168.035 km2
Power Station
Commission date1945-1946
Turbines5 x 108 MW, 5 x 157 MW Francis-type
Installed capacity1325 MW

The dam, located at a gorge near the (now submerged) upstream Bhakra village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh of height 226 m.[1] The length of the dam (measured from the road above it) is 518.25 m and the width is 9.1 m. Its reservoir known as "Gobind Sagar" stores up to 9.34 billion cubic metres of water. The 90 km long reservoir created by the Bhakra Dam is spread over an area of 168.35 km2. In terms of quantity of water, it is the third largest reservoir in India, the first being Indira Sagar dam in Madhya Pradesh with capacity of 12.22 billion cu m and second Nagarjunasagar Dam.

Described as "New Temple of Resurgent India" by Jawaharlal Nehru,[2] the first prime minister of India, the dam attracts tourists from all over India. Bhakra dam is 15 km from Nangal city and 20 km from Naina Devi town.

Nangal Dam is another dam in Punjab downstream of Bhakra Dam. However, sometimes both the dams together are called Bhakra-Nangal Dam though they are two separate dams.


Bhakra Dam bridge
Coordinates31°24′39″N 76°26′00″E / 31.4108°N 76.4333°E / 31.4108; 76.4333
Total length1700 feet
Width30 feet
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru with group of engineers who constructed Bhakra Dam 03

The Bhakra-Nangal multipurpose dams were among the earliest river valley development schemes undertaken by India after independence though the project had been conceived long before India became a free nation. The agreement for this project had been signed by the then Punjab Revenue Minister, Sir Chhotu Ram in November 1944 with Raja of Bilaspur and finalised the project plan on 8 January 1945. Preliminary works commenced in 1946. Construction of the dam started in 1948; Jawaharlal Nehru poured the first bucket of concrete into the dry riverbed of the Sutlej on 17 November 1955, as a symbolic initiation of the work. Addressing a gathering there, he said, "This is a gift to the people of India and to the future generations from the workers who built this dam", calling for "rais[ing] a memorial" at the dam "in honour" of the workers.[3] The dam was completed by the end of 1963. Successive stages were completed by the early 1970s.

Initially, the construction of the dam was started by Sir Louis Dane, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. But the project got delayed and was restarted soon after independence under the chief architect Rai Bahadur Kunwar Sen Gupta. It was financed entirely by the union government. The Control Board for the project included representatives from union government, and of the governments of Punjab, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan, Bilaspur and Himachal Pradesh. The organisation evolved for the purpose of design and construction was divided into three parts. The Designs Directorate provided the designs and drawings. The Construction and Plant Design Directorate was to look after its execution and installing of the plant, while the Directorate of Inspection and Control ensured that the specifications are accorded to safety requirements were met.[4]

In October 1963, at the ceremony to mark the dedication of the Bhakra–Nangal project to the nation, Prime Minister Nehru said, "This dam has been built with the unrelenting toil of man for the benefit of mankind and therefore is worthy of worship. May you call it a Temple or a Gurdwara or a Mosque, it inspires our admiration and reverence". On 22 October 2013, the Government of India approved the release of a commemorative stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bhakra Dam. As how successful India was at that time that it was the only dam in Asia which could produce 1500 MW power.

Also, these are multipurpose projects.


The dam, at 741 ft (226 m), is one of the highest gravity dams in the world (compared to USA's largest Oroville Dam at 770 ft). The 166 km2 Gobindsagar Reservoir, named after Guru Gobind Singh, is created by this dam which is the third largest reservoir in India the first being Indira Sagar Dam and second Nagarjunasagar Dam.[5] The river Satluj used to flow through a narrow gorge between two hills, Naina Devi ki dhar and Ramgarh ki dhar, and the site was chosen to dam the river. The large map shows the location of the original Bhakra village that was submerged in the lake formed behind the dam.

Bhakra dam was part of the larger multipurpose Bhakra Nangal Project whose aims were to prevent floods in the Satluj-Beas river valley, to provide irrigation to adjoining states and also to provide hydro-electricity. It also became a tourist spot for the tourists during later years because of its huge size and uniqueness.

It also has four spillway gates that are only used when the reservoir exceeds the maximum allowed level.

Nangal dam is a barrage dam that is 10 km downstream of Bhakra dam


The dam holds excess waters during the monsoon and provides a regulated release during the year. It also prevents damage due to monsoon floods. The Bhakra Canal fed by this dam provides irrigation to 10 million acres of (40,000 km2) fields in Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan.[6]

Water flows from Bhakra Dam downstream Nangal dam where it is controlled and released into Nangal Hydel Channel that later becomes Bhakra Main Line after Ganguwal and Kotla power plants. The Bhakra main line is a canal that mostly supplies irrigation water to the state of Haryana.

Electricity generationEdit

Bhakra Dam has ten power generators with five on each side. Generators for the left power house were originally supplied by Hitachi, Japan and upgraded to the present capacity by Sumitomo, Hitachi and Andritz.[7][8] Generators for the right side were originally supplied by Soviet Union and later upgraded to the present capacity by Russia.[9] The two power houses have a total capacity of 1325 MW. The left power house contain 3 x 108 MW and 2 x 126 MW Francis turbines while the right has 5 x 157 MW.[10]

The power generated at Bhakra Dam is distributed among partner states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Three additional power plants are on the two canals Nangal Hydel Channel and Anandpur Sahib Hydel Channel that originate from Nangal dam. Their generation capacities are : Ganguwal - 77.65 MW, Kotla - 77.65 MW and Anandpur - 134 MW.[11][12][13]


Gobind Sagar Lake (Bhakra Dam Reservoir)

The reservoir of the Dam, Gobind Sagar, homes fishes of different species including endangered Mahseer. Commercial fishing by Local fisherman is also common in Gobind Sagar.


Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) was constituted in 1966 for the administration, maintenance and operation of Bhakra Nangal Project from 1 October 1967. It manages the operation of both the dams. Its members are appointed by the government of India and by the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, and Chandigarh. Bhakra Management Board was renamed Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) on 15 May 1976 to also manage dams on the river Beas. Since then the Bhakra Beas Management Board is engaged in the regulation of the supply of water and power from Bhakra Nangal Project and Beas Projects to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, and Chandigarh government.

The Bhakra Beas Management Board regulates, operates and manages Bhakra Dam, Dehar Hydroelectric Project, Pong dam, Ganguwal and Kotla power stations.[14]


Being the fourth largest dam in India after Tehri Dam, it attracts a large number of tourists who visit its reservoir and attractive location. However, for security reasons, visitors to Bhakra-Nangal Dam has been banned since 2009. but The ban has been lifted now.

Displacement of PeopleEdit

The large reservoir created by the dam displaced a large population from the district of Bilaspur. About 371 villages were submerged. After 50 years of its completion, there is still a question of full resettlement of oustees.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Central Water Commission website". Archived from the original on 31 March 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  2. ^ accessed on 14 November 2009
  3. ^ "Nehru Opens Work On Bhakra Dam". The Indian Express. 18 November 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Bhakra Dam Will Be Engineering Marvel". The Indian Express. 4 September 1955. p. 13. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  5. ^ "India: National Register of Large Dams 2009" (PDF). Central Water Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Agreement on construction of Bhakra Nangal project between Punjab and Rajasthan in January, 1959" (PDF). Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Hitachi, Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation Secure Contract with India's Bhakra Beas ManagementBoard to Renovate Hydroelectric Power Station| Sumitomo Corporation". Sumitomo Corporation. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Dams show promise of filling early - Indian Express". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Bhakra right bank power house dedicated - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  10. ^ "New Page 1". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  11. ^ "BBMB - Ganguwal". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  12. ^ "BBMB - Kotla". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  13. ^ "ANANDPUR SAHIB HYDEL PROJECT (134 MW)". Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  14. ^ "New Page 1". Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  15. ^ "50 years on, Bhakra Dam oustees wait for rehabilitation - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 8 January 2016.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Bhakra Dam at Wikimedia Commons