A sea of blue

The Tungabhadra (TB) river project at Hospet, Bellary district, was taken up as early as the year 1945 and completed in 1953 at a cost of Rs 130.76 crore. The golden jubilee of the project was in the year 2003.

This project is a fine example of how a national asset like a river could be used without much bickering. Due to security reasons, no private vehicle is allowed up to the dam site overlooking the vast reservoir. This means that one has to walk about a km from the road to reach a vantage point to enjoy the sights of this vast water-body that spreads over 378 sq. km that has brought joy to thousands of farmers who are reaping a good harvest every year.

The presence of this water body has encouraged development of fisheries too. The electricity generated by the hydroelectric project amounts to an installed capacity of nearly 100 MW. A recent addition is the small hydel project of NCL Energy Limited, a private sector company financed by World Bank that generates 8 MW.

The view of the water, the dam and verdant hills makes for a pretty postcard picture. One can see many water birds like kingfishers and egrets. Watching the flight of these birds over the lake is a wonderful sight.

The Tunga Bhadra (TB) Board maintains a number of parks and gardens and a deer park. The aquarium named Parnaja inaugurated in 1999 has 65 species of ornamental fish. The computerised musical dancing fountain is an added attraction during the evening hours.

At the dam is a memorial stone laid by Sir Arthur Hope, Governor of Madras in 1945. Another stone is a memorial to the opening of the TB Board’s high-level canal in 1967. General Sir Arthur Cotton, the irrigation wizard of southern India, was associated with this project.

Sir M Visvesvaraya, Papanna and Tirumala Iyengar were some of the well-known engineers who worked on the TB dam project.

A few of the dignitaries who visited the project were late president Rajendra Prasad and former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

The dam has a multimedia theatre showing the various aspects of the TB dam project construction and a few of its features. There is a miniature model of the dam encased in glass. The watchtower on the hillock is closed. There are no eat-out spots or places to stay at the dam-site. So take a packed lunch and plenty of drinking water.

Travel tips

*How to get there: TB dam is 5 km from the town of Hospet, which is well connected by road from Bangalore and other major towns. It has a rail connection to Bangalore and Hubli.

*Local transport: Auto-rickshaw, taxi and bus

*When to go: Avoid summer months of June to August

*Where to stay: Hospet has a number of good hotels.

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