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Indira Sagar Project - Sunday, June 13, 2004

Jawaharlal Nehru called Dams as the temples of modern India. One hardly realizes the outlook behind this statement without actually seeing a Dam. Being in Bhopal I have seen a lot of dams since childhood so when my father offered a visit to the Indira Sagar Project I wasn’t surprised. It had been a long time since our family had gone on an outing (all together) and this was an ideal time and moment as my grandfather was also visiting us…
We set out early in the morning by car; this was going to be my longest drive – the place was about 210kms from Bhopal near Khandva district. The journey was full of adventure and a cool drive except for 25km patch of bad road. I got a chance to drive in all seasons – it was sunny initially and it started raining as we reached nearer to the dam site. The trip was just like another till we reached the site. Cool weather, green lush surroundings, ghats, mountains and even a river bed crossing us. The river obviously was Narmada on which this dam was built.
As we entered the Dam site I saw the gates of the dam from one side. It looked just like another site. We then went to the house of an acquaintance who was working for BHEL (my father’s company) at the dam site. Now we started the drive on the other side of the hill.
We reached the dam site again, this time from the other side of the dam. As I neared the edge of the cliff we were standing on the view of the river bed started unfolding in front of me. It was now that I realized that I was looking at the largest Dam of India. The gates were build on a solid dam wall about 10 meters in thickness; thickening further at the bottom of the bed (which was submerged now). It was even possible to ‘enter’ the dam wall which had hollow pockets for sensors and other monitoring equipment inside it. On the other side lay the DAM water of river Narmada. The dam waters could see no ending from where we stood. It was real ecstasy to see this site. There was also a diversion tower which was used during construction of the dam to divert the waters of the Narmada to a different path. The view was enormous and overwhelming. But the real fun was yet to come.
Now we started moving towards the power station that was earlier visible as a small structure from where we stood. Slowly as we entered a tunnel leading to the power station I realized how big the seemingly small structure was. There were 8 turbines inside – 4 were already commissioned while 4 were yet to be commissioned and were in different stages of assembly. Thus we got to see each part of the turbine separately. The helical pipe that would push waters into the turbine blades, the turbine blades itself, the rotor that would be moved by the blades, the stator and the other electronic control gadgetry.
All this was a great experience for me As an engineer and I am sure it would even be greater for my brother before he begins his engineering. It was hard to believe that all these gigantic super-human structures were made by humans themselves. I had read about turbines in my books and even drawn diagrams, but I had never then realized that they would be so big. It was all like Alice in wonderland.
Now we moved outside the power plant and saw the transformers used to step up the power and send it into the grid. After coming out of the plant we drove around it to the other side where the waters entered the helical pipes. On this side we saw that the power station which we were housed in looked just like another dam wall from its outside. We drove ‘on’ this wall to see the gates again. This was another wonder of the day. Little had I realized that the dam gates might be as wide as 50 meters and as thick as 10 meters when I saw them for the first time. And the dam wall was like a gigantic man-made rock hill. It stood there as a giant enduring the pressure of the waters. This was the last but the most impressive spot for the day.

As we were leaving the dam site I was really frightened and proud both at the power of what mankind has achieved. The thought of man’s power made me shiver; this power should never be used for destructive purposes lest it ushers in as great a trauma as much prosperity it ushers by projects like this.


  1. it was a "dam"n good post :)
    it is times like this when u really wonder at the enormity of creation, human or natural..
    they make u feel why does man not devote all his energies to such projects that will improve his quality of life, instead of wasting his efforts in minor quibbles and personal gains..
    as a child, when i used to see palaces and forts built by kings, i used to wonder why such magnificent structures are not built any longer.. i have found the answer.. structures of such magnitude are still built, but in the form of dams, bridges, towers, aircrftas etc.


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