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Hirakud Dam, Bhubaneswar Overview

Constructed across the Mahanadi River in Sambalpur, Odisha the Hirakud Dam is hailed as the longest human-made dams in India. Astonishingly, it is over 56km long and is the top pick among the locals as well as tourists to enjoy a refreshing day out. This marvellous piece of architecture construction was built in the year 1956, and owing to its location is a fantastic spot to watch nature come alive in all its glory. One of the major attractions here is a drive-through road that you can take you 21km over the dam, admiring its ingeniousness and expertise. Another striking feature of the dam is, of course, the wide expanse of the view that it offers from the Gandhi and Nehru Minarets that are located towards the Northern Facade of the dam. It is also a fantastic site for birdwatching as it is surrounded by abundant water and trees on all sides.

Any nature lover will enjoy the quaint atmosphere and lush greenery that is in abundance at the Hirakud Dam. The dam stretches between the Burla and Hirakud Hills. In addition to showcasing stunning natural beauty, the dam irrigates 7,500,000 hectares of land and also generates hydroelectricity. Situated near the Hirakud Dam is a hill called Budharaja hill, which is well-known for the Budharaja Temple at its peak. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple offers breathtaking views of the dam from. Another temple which is a must-visit in Hirakud is the Ghanteshwari Temple which served as a lighthouse for the incoming ships as the bells were used to warn the sailors. Visit this destination for a tranquil getaway in the lap of nature.

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Architecture of Hirakud Dam

The Hirakud Dam is an excellent example of the engineering genius of the country and is a composite structure of soil, concrete and masonry. The dam is 4.8 kilometres in length and has been very intelligently constructed across the two hills of Burla and Hirakund. Adjacent to the dam on both sides are earthen dykes, and together they form one of the largest artificial lake in India as well. Known as the Hirakud Reservoir, the water body has a shoreline of over 639 km. There are two observation towers on the dam one at each side. One is the "Gandhi Minar" and the other one is the "Nehru Minar". Both the observation towers present fantastic views of the lake.

Things to do

Hirakud Dam is best seen on a longe trip to Sambalpur. Upon reaching Sambalpur you can check into a hotel and leave for a visit to Hirakud Dam by a chartered taxi. Post your trip to the dam plop yourself down at one of the local eateries in Sambalpur and much on local delicacies such as Pakhala Bhaat, Bhaja (Fish Fry), or Aamisa Jhol (Chicken Curry). While here, one can also visit the many other attractions of Sambalpur. Huma Temple, Badrama-sakothi wildlife sanctuary and Deulajhari are some places you can head to.

Lost Temples of Hirakud Dam

It is considered that after the completion of the dam in 1957, the remnants of the temples that existed in and around the region submerged into the water. But during the summer season, when the water levels recede, these structures become visible. Lately, these have caught the attention of many historians and tourists and has become a popular scuba diving spot. The interest in finding these lost temples arose when two stones that were etched in writing (called the Shila Lekha) from the Padmaseni Temple of the Padmapur village were discovered. Although almost 200 were submerged, out of which 150 of them have perished, the 50 other temples are visible only during the summers. 

Cattle Island

Located on one of the extreme ends of the Hirakud reservoir, Cattle Island is considered to be a natural wonder that is completely inhabited by animals without any trace of human beings. A submerged hill, the cattle island was once upon a time a village. Once the construction of the dam was completed, the people in the surrounding village were asked to evacuate immediately. It is believed that when the people were relocating, they left a few domesticated cattle behind. Descended from tamed cattle, the cattle existing today are larger than the tamed ones, wild and very swift. They are mostly white coloured and while many people have tried to catch these animals, they have rarely been lucky.  

Best Time To Visit

The climate of this place is very extreme, temperature rising to about 40 degrees Celcius in summer and descending to as low as 1-degree Celsius in winter. The area also receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. The best time to visit Sambalpur is from September to March as the weather is mostly pleasant during this time. The months of February, November and December are also ideal for travelling to this town.

How to reach Hirakud Dam

The Hirakud Railway Station is located nearby across the river Mahanadi, and you can hop aboard a train to reach the dam. Buses service is also available in different parts of Hirakud due to Hirakud Dam's close vicinity to Highway 6. Taxis and cabs are available to go in and around the place.

  • Air: Raipur Airport is the closest airport to Hirakud. Taxis are available here to go to Hirakud.

  • Rail: Sambalpur has two railway stations, Khetrajpur and the Sambalpur Railway Station. The Khetrajpur station is about 3 km from the city center and the second one is more closer and most trains stop here.

  • Road: There are also two bus stands about 3 km from the city center, the main VSS Marg Bus stand and Private bus stand. The private stand has more regular buses plying to major towns in the area.

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