1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mahanadi

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MAHANADI, or Mahanuddy (“The Great River”), a river of India. It rises in 20° 10′ N., 82° E., 25 m. S. of Raipur town, in the wild mountains of Bastar in the Central Provinces. At first an insignificant stream, taking a northerly direction, it drains the eastern portion of the Chhattisgarh plain, then a little above Seorinarayan it receives the waters which its first great affluent, the Seonath, has collected from the western portion of the plain; thence flowing for some distance due E., its stream is augmented by the drainage of the hills of Uprora, Korba, and the ranges that separate Sambalpur from Chota Nagpur. At Padampur it turns towards the south, and struggling through masses of rock, flows past the town of Sambalpur to Sonpur. From Sonpur it pursues a tortuous course among ridges and rocky crags towards the range of the Eastern Ghats. This mountain line it pierces by a gorge about 40 m. in length, overlooked by forest-clad hills. Since the opening of the Bengal-Nagpur railway, the Mahanadi is little used for navigation. It pours down upon the Orissa delta at Naraj, about 7 m. west of Cuttack town; and after traversing Cuttack district from west to east, and throwing off numerous branches (the Katjori, Paika, Biropa, Chitartala, &c.) it falls into the Bay of Bengal at False Point by several channels.

The Mahanadi has an estimated drainage area of 43,800 sq. m., and its rapid flow renders its maximum discharge in time of flood second to that of no other river in India. During unusually high floods 1,500,000 cub. ft. of water pour every second through the Naraj gorge, one-half of which, uncontrolled by the elaborate embankments, and heavily laden with silt, pours over the delta, filling the swamps, inundating the rice-fields, and converting the plains into a sea. In the dry weather the discharge of the Mahanadi dwindles to 1125 cub. ft. per second. Efforts have been made to husband and utilize the vast water supply thrown upon the Orissa delta during seasons of flood. Each of the three branches into which the parent stream splits at the delta head is regulated by a weir. Of the four canals which form the Orissa irrigation system, two take off from the Biropa weir, and one, with its branch, from the Mahanadi weir. On the 31st of December 1868 the government took over the whole canal works from the East Indian Irrigation Company, at a cost of £941,368. The canals thus taken over and since completed, are the high-level canal, the Kendrapara canal, the Taldanda canal and the Machgaon canal, irrigating 275,000 acres.