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The Mandovi River has a length of 77 kilometres out of which 29 kilometres is situated in Karnataka and 52 kilometres is in Goa. The Mandovi River originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgat located in the Western Ghats of the Belgaum district in Karnataka. The Mandovi River has an area of 2032 square kilometres in Karnataka and 1580 square kilometres area in Goa. The Mandovi river basin in Goa comprises of approximately 42% of Goa’s total geographical area. The Mandovi River is also known as Mahadayi or Mhadei River, and is often described as the lifeline to the State of Goa.
Along with Mandovi River, the Zuari River is also a primary river in Goa. This sharing of the river water between Goa and Karnataka has caused problems between the governments of these two states. This is because in recent times, the Karnataka government has proposed diverting portions of the water from the Mandovi River to the Malaprabha river basin as part of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
Panaji, the former capital of Goa, is situated on the left bank of the river Mandovi. The Canal of Cumbarjuem links the Mandovi river to the Mapusa river and this canal has made the inner parts of the Mandovi open to ships that carry Iron Ore. Iron Ore is Goa’s prime mineral that is mined in Eastern hills.
The Mandovi river also carries in it three freshwater isles: The Divar, Chorao and Vashee. All three are present in the Mandovi River near the town of Old Goa. The Mandovi is also knows for the beautiful Mandovi bridge situated across the river near Panjim. It was famous due to its collapse in the 1980s. A new bridge now stands where it used to be. The winter months are peak tourist months and so the Mandovi River sees special cruises with live musical bands, which only adds to the popularity of this river.
The Mandovi River has been facing many threats in recent times due to illegal felling of trees as well as illegal mining which have been happening for a very long time in the area. In addition, water diversion and hydroelectric projects mean that this lifeline of Goa faces threat of choking due to reduction in water flow, water pollution and disruption in ecology due to change in water profile.
The Mandovi River enters Goa from the north through Sattari Taluka., Sattari Taluka is situated in the north-eastern part of Goa and is known for its vegetation and dense forest. The Western Ghats form the eastern part of the Sattari Taluka and the Mandovi River is considered to be the main source of life of the Sattari. The Sattari Taluka has an area of 490 square kilometres out of which the Mandovi Zuari Wildlife sanctuary covers 208 square kilometres.
In the upper reaches of the river in Sattari valley the Mandovi River is referred to as the Mandei and it flows westward for approximately 20 kilometres until it reaches Bembol. This is the point at which it merges with the Kandepar River. From here onwards, the river is referred to as the Mandovi River, until it meets the Arabia Sea just after Panaji.
The Mandovi River then flows through Cumbarjua, Divadi and Chodne, eventually ending at the Arabian Sea. Mandovi River joins the Zuari River at a meeting point at Cabo Aguada, and so forming the Mormugao harbor.
A majority of famous sixteenth and seventeenth century temples are located on the Mandovi river basin. These temples include Shri Mangesh, Shri Nagesh, and Shri Mahalakshmi among others.
Khanderpar River in the south and Mapusa river network of drainage in the north are the main tributaries of Mandovi in Goa.
Khanderpar is a census town located in Ponda, North Goa. Khanderpar is 5km northeast of Ponda on the NH4A national highway. Khanderpar river m a tributary of the Mandovi, is located approximately 40 Kms eastwards from the river mouth. Small mudflats occur all along the Mandovi River up to Khanderpar, and these get exposed during low tide. These mudflats are good breeding ground for fish and prawns alike.
A tributary of the River Mandovi, it originated from the jumgles of Amthane and Dumacem. It then flows to the east for approximately 26 kilometres and then in a southward direction before draining itself in the mandovi river at Penha de France. Mapusa River is responsible for separating Corjuem from mainland Aldona. Since ancient times, the Mapusa River has been used as a popular waterway to transport agricultural products as well as spices. Mapusa, the town, also happens to be the largest town located on the banks of the river.