Rivers are both important and beautiful. You will always find settlements by rivers in order to make full use of water and food supply. India has a vast network of rivers, most of which either drain into the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Goa, India’s smallest state has a total of 11 rivers making their way through the land. There are two main ones, the Mandovi and Zuari Rivers. The remaining can be considered tributaries and are connected to the main two. Goan livelihood depends on this river water in a big way as they help in irrigation, portability, agriculture and coastal resources.
The monsoons are most important for Goa’s 11 rivers. Water levels increase, thus irrigating the fields and providing proper water supply to people all over the state.
11 rivers of Goa
The Mandovi River
Out of the 11 rivers in the state, the Mandovi is said to be Goa’s lifeline. It is also known as Mahadayi or Mhadei. From Goa’s 11 rivers, this particular one originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belagavi district of Karnataka. The Mandovi enters Goa from the north covering approximately 52 km within the state. The Cumbarjuem Canal links Mandovi and the Zuari River giving easy passage to the barges transporting the mined ore. Of course, now the mines are all closed therefore there are no barges making their way down either river.
The two Mandovi bridges connect Panjim with the rest of North Goa from one part of the state. A third bridge said to be the largest bridge in Goa is in the process of being built. It will rise high above the river’s surface and is 15 meters higher than the two existing bridges.
The Mandovi river has three freshwater Isles located within its waters. These are Divar, Chorao, and Vanxim. The island of Chorao is home to the famous Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary where birding enthusiasts and budding ornithologists can go bird-watching to their hearts’ content.
And of course, besides being used as a navigation channel by the barges, the river also plays host to a whole lot of river cruises and in the last few years, a total of 6 casinos run by various casino companies.
The Zuari River
The second of Goa’s 11 rivers, like the Mandovi, the Zuari river also begins in the Western Ghats. This is Goa’s largest river and is equally important in sustaining the livelihood of the state’s inhabitants. It is believed to have been known in ancient times as the Aghanashini, the destroyer of the sun.
Earlier, one could also see the barges traversing the river all through the day, carrying ore to and from the port.
Locals also like to fish along the banks of both the Mandovi and Zuari rivers. The rivers are also frequented by kayakers, wildlife enthusiasts, and bird-watchers given the amount of local flora and fauna thriving along the banks.
Other waterways in Goa
While the Mandovi and Zuari are Goa’s main rivers, it’s not to say that the remaining are any less important. Terekhol, Chapora, Baga, Sal, Saleri, Talpona, Galgibag also empty into the Arabian Sea at various places in the state. While most originate from somewhere in the Western Ghats, the Baga, Talpona, and Saleri come from the hilly areas within Goa’s borders.
However, inspite of having 11 rivers and 42 smaller tributaries, each of these is now in danger of drying up due to mining and industrialization. A lot of waste, domestic as well as industrial is dumped into these water bodies leading to immense contamination. Something needs to be done to ensure that the water quality does not get any more compromised than it already is or we could lose these lifelines forever.
Information credit – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandovi_River