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The second tallest dam in India (after Tehri dam), the Bhakra Nangal dam is one of the earliest and most important multipurpose river valley development projects, undertaken after India’s independence. It’s constructed on the river Sutlej. Bhakra and Nangal are in fact two different dams, but many times the name Bhakra Nangal dam is used together. Bhakra dam is situated upstream of Bhakra village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, while the Nangal dam is situated at Nangal, Punjab, about 13 km downstream of the Bhakra dam

History of the Bhakra Nangal Dam

In 1908, Sir Louis Dane, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, suggested a reservoir be built on Sutlej by building dams for storage and power development. However, due to prohibitive costs, the project was shelved. Over the decades many other reports were submitted and studied, and finally, in 1948 the Bhakra Nangal project actually took shape with the aim of providing irrigation, power generation, and preventing floods in the Sutlej-Beas river valley.

Construction of the Bhakra Nangal dam commenced in the year 1948 and was completed in 1963. It took a workforce of 13000 workers and 300 engineers to complete the project. More than 100 people lost their lives during the construction phase. On Oct 22, 1963, it was dedicated to the nation by then Prime Minister Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, who called it “New Temple of a Resurgent India”.


The idea for building the Bhakra Nangal Dam was first proposed in 1919 by Sir Louis Dane, the then-governor of Punjab. However, it was not until after India’s independence in 1947 that the project gained momentum. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, recognized the importance of the project and called it the “new temple of resurgent India.”

Construction began in 1948 and was completed in 1963. The Bhakra Nangal Dam is the highest straight gravity dam in the world, standing at 225 meters (738 feet) tall.

The dam serves many purposes, including hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, and flood control. The power generated by the dam provides electricity to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh.

The irrigation provided by the dam is used to irrigate over 5 million acres of farmland in the region, making it one of the most productive agricultural regions in India. Additionally, the dam’s flood control measures have prevented many catastrophic floods in the region, saving lives and property.

Features of Bhakra Nangal dam

With a length of 518 meters and standing tall at 226 meters, Bhakra Dam is the second tallest dam in India (after Tehri Dam, which is 260 m tall) and one of the highest gravity dams in the world.

Just to give a perspective to its height, the dam is three times taller than the Qutub Minar. The dam’s reservoir is named ‘Gobind Sagar’, in honour of the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

The 166 km² reservoirs can hold 9 billion cubic meters of water, making it the third-largest reservoir in India after Indira Sagar and Nagarjuna Sagar reservoirs. The dam has 4 flood control gates, with a maximum design discharge of 1997300 cubic feet per second. Its cost of construction was 2 billion INR, which in today’s currency valuation would be around 80 billion INR. In contrast, the Nangal dam is only 29 meters high and acts as a barrage dam 10 km downstream of the Bhakra dam.

Importance of Bhakra Nangal Dam

The reservoir of the dam, Gobind Sagar, has fishes of different species including endangered Mahseer which means fishing in this reservoir is a common activity, hence, you’ll spot local fishermen practising fishing in Gobind Sagar. This dam holds excess water during the monsoon and provides a regulated release during the year.

It also prevents damage due to monsoon floods. Another important feature that makes this dam relevant is that it provides irrigation to 10 million acres of fields in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab. Apart from supplying water for irrigation, it plays a pivotal role in generating electricity that is supplied to different states of North India like Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, and Delhi. Bhakra Dam has ten power generators with five on each side that has a capacity of 1325 MW.


Due to its humongous size and uniqueness, over the years, the Bhakra Dam has also become a major attraction for tourists. However, due to security reasons, photography is totally prohibited near the dam. People visit to see the reservoir and other attractive locations like the temple of Naina Devi. They can also experience a jungle safari in the nearby Gobind Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is spread over an area of 10 hectares and is home to many reptiles and animals. The sanctuary is well connected by road from Shimla and Chandigarh.

Bhakra Nangal Dam: A Marvel of Engineering and a Symbol of India’s Progress

The Bhakra Nangal Dam is one of India’s most significant engineering achievements, a symbol of the country’s progress and development. Located on the Sutlej River in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the dam is a colossal structure that provides water and power to millions of people in the region. In this blog, we will explore the fascinating history and engineering marvel that is the Bhakra Nangal Dam.

Engineering Marvel

The Bhakra Nangal Dam is a testament to human engineering and innovation. The construction of the dam required the excavation of over 18 million cubic meters of rock and the pouring of 9.2 million cubic meters of concrete. The dam is designed to withstand earthquakes of up to 8.0 magnitudes on the Richter scale and has survived numerous earthquakes in the past without any damage.

The dam’s hydroelectric power plant has a capacity of 1,325 megawatts, making it one of the largest power stations in India. The power plant contains five units, each capable of generating 132.5 megawatts of electricity. The electricity generated by the dam is distributed to the surrounding states through a complex network of transmission lines.


Gobind Sagar reservoir is home to fish of various species. Commercial fishing is allowed in the reservoir, details of which can be acquired from the Punjab Fisheries Department in Chandigarh.

*This is not what Bhakra Nangal Dam Fishing Looks*

Management of the Dam

To effectively manage the administration, maintenance, and operations of the Bhakra Nangal Project, the Bhakra Management Board was formed in 1966 and came into force on October 1, 1967. The Board members are appointed by the Government of India and by the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Chandigarh.

On May 15, 1976, the Bhakra Management Board was renamed Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) in order to also manage the dams on the river, Beas. BBMB is now responsible for the regulation and management of Bhakra Dam, Dehar Hydroelectricity Project, Pong Dam, Ganguwal, and Kotla power stations.

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