India's Biggest Multi-purpose River Valley Project
Situated in Himachal Pradesh, Bhakra Dam, alternatively called Bhakra Nangal Dam, is the world's second highest straight gravity dam built across the River Sutlej. This gigantic dam derives its name from a village called Bhakra, now submerged in the Gobindsagar reservoir. The construction started in 1948 and was completed in 1960. It was M. Harvey Slocum, an American ranked top in construction at that time, who initiated the project on Jawaharlal Nehru's request. 740 ft high above the deepest foundation, and believed to be more than three times taller than the Qutab Minar, this massive structure harnesses the riotous waters of the Sutlej.
A joint endeavor of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, the Bhakra Nangal project comprises the Bhakra and the Nangal dams, the Nangal hydel channel, two power houses at Bhakra dam and two power stations at Ganguwal and Kotla. Nangal Dam is about 13 km downstream of Bhakra Dam and is 95 ft high. It consists of 26 bays of 30 ft each, designed to divert the water of river Sutlej into Nangal Hydel Channel and Anandpur Sahib Hydel Channel for power generation and irrigation purpose. In addition to preventing destructive floods, this multipurpose project irrigates the agricultural areas of Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. The project generates 1 million kilowatt of hydro-electricity.
The lake created by the dam is a 97 km long, 6 km wide reservoir named Gobindsagar. Boating and recreational facilities are arranged for visitors. The reservoir water is highest in the months of October and November when the department of tourism usually organizes a series of regattas. Water-skiing, sailing, kayaking and water scooter racing are popular water sports activities during this peak time.
Though located in Himachal Pradesh, the entrance to this dam is at Nangal in Punjab. Accommodation is available at Nangal in guest houses, rest houses, and tourist bungalows. Visitors require permission from the Public Relations Office, Nangal, for the visit. Photography is not permitted.
The nearest airport is Chandigarh (105 km). Nangal is on the Delhi-Una line and there is a daily train 'Himachal Express' on this route.