Hirakud Dam is built across the Mahanadi River, about 15 kilometres from Sambalpur in the state of Odisha in India. Behind the dam extends a lake, Hirakud Reservoir, 55 km long. It is one of the first major multipurpose river valley projects started after India's independence. The main dam has an overall length of 4.8 km spanning between two hills the Lamdungri on the left and the Chandili Dunguri on the right. The dam is flanked by 21 km of earthen dykes on both the left and right sides, closing the low saddles beyond the adjoining hills. One can see breath taking views from there. There is a rotating minaret called the Gandhi Minar from the top of which one can see awesome views of the dam as well as the river. There is another such minaret called the Nehru Minar on the other side of the dam which offers same views.
The dam and dykes together measure 25.8 km. It also forms the biggest artificial lake in India, with a reservoir holding 743 km2 at full capacity, with a shoreline of over 639 km. There are two observation towers on the dam one at each side. One is `Gandhi Minar` and the other one is `Nehru Minar`. Both the observation towers present breathtaking views of the lake. The dam supports two different hydroelectric power houses. Power House I is located at the base of the main dam section and contains 3 x 37.5 MW Kaplan turbine and 2 x 24 MW Francis turbine generators for an installed capacity of 259.5 MW.The dam helps control floods in the Mahanadi delta and irrigates 75,000 km2 of land. Hydroelectricity is also generated.
The Hirakud Dam regulates 83,400 km2 (20.6 x106 acres) of Mahanadi's drainage. The reservoir has a storage capacity of 5.818 km3 with gross of 8.136 km3.Hirakud Dam has three canals, namely Bargarh Main Canal, Sason Canal and Sambalpur Canal. Bargarh Main canal has a water discharge rate of 4000 cusecs. Situated near the dam is a hill called Budharaja hill which has a temple at its top, known as Budharaja temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which has stunning views of the dam from atop the hill. Another temple which is a must-visit in Hirakud is the Ghanteshwari Temple which served as a lighthouse for the incoming ships and the bells were used to warn the sailors. You can see a variety of species of migratory birds coming to the reservoir during the winter season here.
Best time to visit: Oct-Mar
Open Time: Day Time
Popular Cuisine: Local Food
Attractions: Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary, Cattle Island, Vimaleswar Temple, Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary, Hatibari, Huma Temple, Deer Park
Nearest Bus Stop: Sambalpur,VSS Marg Bus stand
Nearest Railway Station: Hirakud (HKG), Khetrajpur and the Sambalpur Railway Station
Travel Options: Taxi,Bus,Train,Flight
Nearest town: Sambalpur
Distance from Bhubaneswar: 305 km