Dams receive importance in India for their ability to generate hydroelectric power and provide water to dry areas. However, in recent times, dams have been receiving increasing attention for their tourism potential. Numerous states in the country are planning to develop theme parks, gardens, resorts, boating and other tourist facilities near dams. The official websites of Chhattisgarh, Kerela, Uttarakhand and Gujarat are just a few examples of dams being promoted as tourist destinations.
It is easy to see why dams make great spots for a leisurely visit. They are away from major cities, are often surrounded by nature, and have cleaner air (lesser pollution). They offer a great opportunity to get away from the hectic pace of Indian cities and relax in a calm environment. Following is a list of the most well known and most visited dams in India:
Tehri Dam, Uttarakhand
Perhaps the dam with the most offerings, Tehri Dam is set in the foothills of the Himalayas. It controls the waters of two Himalayan rivers, Bhagirathi and Bhilangana. Tehri Dam offers all sorts of adventure activities like speed boating, scuba diving, kayaking, rafting, rowing, etc. The town of New Tehri (where the dam is located) has good accommodation options with scenic views from the rooms.
Sardar Sarovar Dam, Gujarat
Sardar Sarovar dam is the biggest dam on the Narmada river. It is roughly a 2 hour drive from Vadodara. The cool part about this dam is that you can book a tour, which will give you an insight into the working of the dam and you will also be taken to six important points on the site of the dam. There is a boating facility, a nature camp for children, a trekking site and a place to sit and relax. Sardar Sarovar is well worth a trip.
Mulshi Dam, Maharashtra
This is a local favourite of Mumbai and Pune. Every year when monsoons arrive in June and July, people head to Mulshi Dam for a bit of a soak. The drive to the dam is also quite scenic, with winding hilly roads making their way through lush green hills. One can also spot many waterfalls on those hills. The dam itself has various spots to hang out, or you can check out viewing points featuring cliffs and valleys on the winding roads nearby. The most famous viewing spot is called Tamhini Ghat. However, the most popular activity at the dam is standing under a waterfall.
Banasura Dam, Kerela
Banasura Sagar Dam is the largest earth dam in India. It is located in the famous Wayanad district of Kerela and is said to have been made completely of stones and boulders. This dam is a photographers paradise, thanks to the stunning view created by many small islands that stick out in the dam’s reservoir with the Banasura Hills enriching the horizon. Besides enjoying speed boat rides and peddle boats, one can also hike the nearby Banasura hills.
Bhakra & Nangal Dam, Himachal Pradesh
Bhakra and Nangal are actually two different dams, but are often referred to as Bhakra-Nangal. Located in the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh, Bhakra Dam is the second highest dam in India and has the third largest reservoir in the country. While there aren’t many tourist activities at the dam, the view of the dam with the greenish coloured water of the Sutlej river and the hills around the reservoir is quite amazing.
Idukki Dam, Kerela
Idukki Dam is a unique double curvature arch dam. Built in between two mountains, its shape is concave and it is the third highest dam in India. Most importantly, Idukki Dam is situated in one of Kerela’s most beautiful regions (Thekkady) and is surrounded by rolling green hills and meandering streams of water. There is a boating service available at the dam. Surrounding the lake (formed as a result of the dam) is the Periyar National Park, home to some interesting wildlife.
Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Telangana
Located in Telangana state, the Nagarjuna Sagar dam is a popular weekend getaway from Hyderabad. It is said to be the largest rock built dam in the world. Besides enjoying boating services, one can also visit Nagarjunkonda, a historical Buddhist town located on a small island in the middle of the dam’s reservoir. The Buddhist town also has a museum which is said to house some ancient relics dating back to 3rd century AD. If all that wasn’t enough, you can drive about 11 kms from the dam to visit the well known Ethipothala Falls.