River length

251 km

Basin area

5397 sq km

Population in basin

4 million

States in basin

Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Major cities using water

Palakkad (pop: 131,019)

River Depletion

  • Dry season drought risk: Low
  • Monsoon flood risk: High
  • Tree cover loss: 31%(1973-2005)
  • Seasonal variability of water levels: Medium to High

Economic & Environmental Significance

  • The Bharathapuzha is Kerala’s second longest river, covering almost 10% of the state.
  • Almost 500,000 hectares of agricultural land are supported by the river.
  • It is considered the richest of Kerala’s rivers in terms of fish biodiversity. Of 117 species present in the river, three species are found nowhere else. 14 species are threatened with extinction.
  • The river supplies drinking water for 5.9 lakh people in rural areas and 1.73 lakh people in urban areas. 175 gram panchayats and 12 municipalities in three districts, including the temple town of Guruvayur, depend on the river for water.

Recent Disasters

Once a perennial river, the Bharathapuzha now goes dry within a few weeks after the monsoon ends. Loss of tree cover, drying tributaries and weak monsoons in the last few years have left the river in a drought-stricken situation along much of its course.

Spiritual & Cultural Significance

The river is traditionally known as Nila. Kerala Kalamandalam, a famous center for traditional arts, is situated on its banks.

The literary genius of M.T.Vasudevan Nair and O.V. Vijayan found inspiration along the river’s banks.

The pithru tharpanam, an offering to one’s ancestors, is performed every year along the river’s banks.

References and Credit


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