Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, India – Part IV


By Mohan Pai

 

The MAHADAYI in Karnataka

The Mahadayi after Vajrapoha waterfalls before the confluence with Bail Nadi – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

The Mahadayi river originates in the Western Ghats of Khanapur taluka, Belgaum district, Karnataka. As the streams of the Sahyadris go, the west- flowing streams are short, swift-flowing, and plunge over precipitous escarpments to discharge their waters into the Arabian Sea. As they plunge towards the coastal strip, they pass through deep gorges creating spectacular waterfalls. The Mahadayi river follows this pattern and is a comparatively small stream with a total length of just about 87 km.- 35 km. in Karnataka and 52 km. in Goa.
Degaon in Khanapur Taluka – the birth place of the Mahadayi river – Pic by Srihari Kugaji
The Mahadayi rises on the eastern slopes of the Sahyadri’s crestline near Degaon village. The origin of the Mahadayi is a multitude of streams from within the fan shaped surrounding hills capped by dense, pristine forests.
Gavali village also claims the origin of the river Mahadayi – Temple and tank, is said to be the source of the Mahadayi – Pic by Mohan Pai
It flows eastward for a short distance and then loops into an arc around the ridges and turns westward across the crestline into Goa. Both, the Malaprabha and the Mahadayi run parallel to each other for some distance but flow in the opposite directions.

Iskcon is setting up a large complex in the Mahadayi Valley near Amgaon. ISCKON has already acquired about 500 acres of land. The project is intended for the development of agriculture, horticulture and medicinal plants with a view to help the local population – Pic by Mohan Pai
Between the Malaprabha river at Kankumbi in the north, Khanapur to the east, Anmod ghat on the Goa highway to the south and Molem/Madei wildlife sanctuaries across the crestline in Goa to the west, the Mahadayi valley with its luxurious forest covers an area of approximately 750 sq. km.
The valley is studded with graceful peaks, deep gorges, thick pristine monsoon forests and flat terraces of paddy fields at the bottom.
Bail Nadi near Amgaon – Pic by Mohan Pai

As many as 75 big and small streams join the Mahadayi at various stages increasing its volume and velocity. The main tributaries of the Mahadayi in the upper and middle catchment areas in Karnataka are small streams of an average length of 5 to 10 km. and as one follows the flow, they are: Right Bank: Bhandura Nala near Kongla, Singar Nala, Doli Nala, Kotni Nala, Irti Nala, Bail Nadi. Left Bank: Pansheer Nala, Madhuhalla Nala.
Confluence of the Mahadayi & Bail Nadi – Pic by Srihari Kugaji
These two streams arise on the crest line astride Talewadi and rush down on either side of the Barapedi caves within a km of each other near Krishnapur in the lower loop.
Vanrachi Khadi – ‘the monkey gorge – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

North of the loop near Kankumbi in the catchment area of Malaprabha river, two potent streams – Kalasa and Surla (Bhandura nala) join east of Chorla and flow across the crestline as Surla river in Goa emptying into the Madei above Valpoi at Nanode in Goa. These two streams are very important and major streams that feed the Mahadayi river.

Jamboti forests – Pic by Mohan Pai

The valley is a scenic treat and one of the richest reservoirs of biodiversity in the world and reflects the complexity in plant, animal and bird life and is home to endangered bat species. The valley is comparable to the Silent valley of Kerala in its significance and an important biological and ecological remaining pocket in the Western Ghats.
Bamboo bridge across the Bhandura Nala – Pic by Mohan Pai
About thirty villages scattered over the area remain poor, ill-served and rejected in the midst of thick resource-rich forests.

 Pastoli Village – Pic by Lt. Col. Ravinder Kumar

The ruins of Bhimgad, an old Maratha fort is located north-east of Molem wildlife sanctuary in Goa and north of Dandeli widlife sanctuary in Uttara Kannada. The area forms a core part of the Western Ghats.

Krishnapur – ampitheatre-like rocky outcrop. Krishnapur is just 2.5 km from Goa border and is home to a rare species of bats – Theobald’s Tomb bat – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

Vertical rock cave ampitheatres of Krishnapur near Goa border are gigantic wall formations 1000-1500 ft in height. The caves are extremely difficult to access, have remained untouched and are nature’s secret providing haven to a large number of floral and faunal species.
Stone icon in a sacred grove at Amgaon – Pic by Srihari Kugaji
The steep drop of over 300 metres near Krishnapur and over 400 metres near Bhimgad to the valley down below is breathtaking. Thereafter, the land rises to the north of the Mahadayi to peaks of about 700 metres at Kedi Paunda and Tamadi Mokh.
Over 2,000 year old Salactite formation – Pic by Srihari Kugaji
12 km from Jamboti is Vajra Poha waterfalls. Here the river Mahadayi is joined by two other streams – Maradha nala and Pansheer nala, creating the magnificent Vajra Poha waterfalls.
Vajra Poha Waterfalls near Bhimgad on the Mahadayi – Pic by Srihari Kugaji
The Mahadayi takes a leap of over 150 ft. with rapids above and below the waterfalls.
Nersa Village
The village of Nersa in Khanapur nestles in the thick forests of Mahadayi valley.
Nersa Village – Pic by Mohan Pai
One of the proposed dams is to be builtclose to this village on Bhandura/Singar Nala confluence, submerging a sizeable area and threatening the very existence of this village.
The Hermitage Farms, a popular ecoresort in Nersa – Pic by Mohan Pai
Tribal Art – Wall Murals at Hermitage Farms done by Gavali tribesman at Nersa – Pic by Mohan Pai

Dam site at Kongla – the confluence of Bhandura & Singar nala near Nersa village – Pic by Mohan Pai
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