Bhakra Dam is a concrete gravity dam the Satluj River in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh in northern India.
The dam, located at a gorge near the (now submerged) upstream Bhakra village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh of height 226 m. The length of the dam (measured from the road above it) is 518.25 m and the width is 9.1 m. Its reservoir known as "Gobind Sagar" stores up to 9.34 billion cubic metres of water. The 90 km long reservoir created by the Bhakra Dam is spread over an area of 168.35 km2. In terms of quantity of water, it is the third largest reservoir in India, the first being in Madhya Pradesh with capacity of 12.22 billion cu m and second Nagarjunasagar Dam.
Described as "New Temple of Resurgent India" by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, the dam attracts tourists from all over India. Bhakra dam is 15 km from Nangal city and 20 km from Naina Devi town.
Nangal Dam is another dam downstream of Bhakra Dam. However, sometimes both the dams together are called Bhakra-Nangal Dam though they are two separate dams.
The Bhakra-Nangal multipurpose dams were among the earliest river valley development schemes undertaken by India after independence though the project had been conceived long before India became a free nation. The agreement for this project had been signed by the then Punjab Revenue Minister, Sir Chhotu Ram on 8 January 1945 with Raja of Bilaspur. Preliminary works commenced in 1946. Construction of the dam started in 1948, Jawaharlal Nehru poured the first bucket of concrete into the foundations of Bhakra on 18 November 1955 and the dam was completed by the end of 1963. Successive stages were completed by the early 1970s.
Initially, the construction of the dam was started by Sir Louis Dane, the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. But the project got delayed and was restarted soon after independence under the chief architect Rai Bahadur Kunwar Sen Gupta. In October 1963 at the ceremony to mark the dedication of the Bhakra–Nangal project to the nation, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, "This dam has been built with the unrelenting toil of man for the benefit of mankind and therefore is worthy of worship. May you call it a Temple or a Gurdwara or a Mosque, it inspires our admiration and reverence". On 22 October 2013, the Government of India approved the release of a commemorative stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bhakra Dam.
The dam, at 741 ft (226 m), is one of the highest gravity dams in the world (compared to USA's largest Hoover Dam at 743 ft). The 166 km² Gobindsagar Reservoir, named after Guru Gobind Singh, is created by this dam which is the third largest reservoir in India the first being Indira Sagar Dam and second Nagarjunasagar Dam. The river Satluj used to flow through a narrow gorge between two hills, Naina Devi ki dhar and Ramgarh ki dhar, and the site was chosen to dam the river. The large map http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/india/nh-43-03.jpg shows the location of the original Bhakra village that was submerged in the lake formed behind the dam.
Bhakra dam was part of the larger multipurpose Bhakra Nangal Project whose aims were to prevent floods in the Sutluj-Beas river valley, to provide irrigation to adjoining states and to provide hydro-electricity. It also became a tourist spot for the tourists during later years because of it huge size and uniqueness.
It also has four spillway gates that are only used when the reservoir exceeds the maximum allowed level.
Nangal dam is a barrage dam that is 10 km downstream of Bhakra dam
The dam holds excess waters during the monsoon and provides a regulated release during the year . It also prevents damage due to monsoon floods. The dam provides irrigation to 10 million acres (40,000 km²) of fields in Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan.
Water flows from Bhakra Dam downstream Nangal dam where it is controlled and released into Nangal Hydel Channel that later becomes Bhakra Main Line after Ganguwal and Kotla power plants. The Bhakra main line is a canal that mostly supplies irrigation water to the state of Haryana.
Bhakra Dam has ten power generators with five on each side. Generators for the left power house were originally supplied by Hitachi, Japan and upgraded to the present capacity by Sumitomo, Hitachi and Adritz. Generators for the right side were originally supplied by Soviet Union and later upgraded to the present capacity by Russia. The two power houses have a total capacity of 1325 MW. The left power house contain 3 x 108 MW and 2 x 126 MW Francis turbines while the right has 5 x 157 MW.
The power generated at Bhakra Dam is distributed among partner states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi.
Three additional power plants are on the two canals Nangal Hydel Channel and Anandpur Sahib Hydel Channel that originate from Nangal dam. Their generation capacities are : Ganguwal - 77.65 MW, Kotla - 77.65 MW and Anandpur - 134 MW.
The reservoir of the Dam, Gobind Sagar, homes fishes of different species including endangered Mahseer. Commercial fishing by Local fisherman is also common in Gobind Sagar.
Bhakra Management Board (BMB) was constituted in 1966 for the administration, maintenance and operation of Bhakra Nangal Project from 1 October 1967. It manages the operation of both the dams. Its members are appointed by the government of India and by the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh. Bhakra Management Board was renamed Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) on 15 May 1976 to also manage dams on river Beas. Since then the Bhakra Beas Management Board is engaged in the regulation of the supply of water and power from Bhakra Nangal Project and Beas Projects to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh government.
The Bhakra Beas Management Board regulates, operates and manages Bhakra Dam, Dehar Hyroelectric Project, Pong dam, Ganguwal and Kotla power stations.
Being the fourth largest dam in India after Tehri Dam, it attracts a large number of tourists who visit its reservoir and attractive location. However, for security reasons, visitors to Bhakra-Nangal Dam has been banned since 2009. The distance between the Ganguwal and Bhakra Dam is about 30–35 km.
The large reservoir created by the dam displaced a large population from the district of Bilaspur. About 371 villages were submerged. After 50 years of its completion, there is still a question of full resettlement of oustees.