By the rivers of Kongu



Rivers determined the prosperity of the civilisation on their banks. Our region was no different

The region we live in is unique. Its land, climate, rivers, mountains and the flora and fauna are distinctive. Today, let's take a look at the river systems of our region. Most parts of Kongu, more specifically the Coimbatore district, is water starved but for the regions abutting the rivers and the two seasonal rainfalls. The rivers of the Kongu were essentially made up of the valleys of the Cauvery and its main tributaries, the Bhavani, our Noyyal and the Amaravathy, which flow from several regions of the Western Ghats and the Anamalais. Besides this, the vast plains of Salem district are drained by Toppur, the Sarabanga Nai, the Tirumanimuttar, that are tributaries of the Cauvery from the east.

Fertile plains

The Cauvery is undoubtedly the life spring of Tamil Nadu. Wherever it flows into the Kongu, the area is the most fertile. The river takes a sharp turn from the east to south at the Hogennakkal falls and flows south-eastwards, forming the boundary of the Salem and Coimbatore districts. Here it is joined by the Bhavani. It then turns south-east again and forms the boundary of the Erode and Tiruchengode taluks.

Important waterway

The ancient Noyyal or Kanchi Manadhi finds many references in history and is the only river of importance in the Coimbatore region. Rising from the Bolampatti valley of Vellingiri Hills, it passes through our city and joins the Cauvery in a place called Noyyal in Karur district. It flows for about 160 km and various streams and minor rivers join it en route. Unfortunately, this ancient river is in a state of disrepair today. It has been classified as a wild stream rather than a river. The Government and the people of the region are now restoring this river, which had nurtured ancient civilisations on its banks.

Source of life

Recently, tens of thousands of Coimbatoreans took to the roads to show their solidarity and support for the need to revive the river that has sustained the region. The river also regularly replenishes the famous tanks of Coimbatore. In the recent past, the river filled most of these tanks in just one monsoon.

Replete with history

The temple city of Perur that is renowned for its history and architecture also stands on the banks of the Noyyal. The river rises in the hills, passes through Perur and Coimbatore and traverses Vellalore, Singanallur, Sulur, Mangalam and Tirupur before flowing eastwards into Karur district and ultimately joining the Cauvery. If one were to trace its path, the importance and antiquity of the river will emerge. Its past is replete with history of ancient settlements. Historic temples and archaeological finds prove the existence of life flourishing here in ancient times. The Bhavani, one of the most important and revered rivers of the Kongu, rises in the Nilgiris. Many streams, big and small, like the Moyar flow into it. The Bhavani joins the Cauvery after about 170 Km.

Holy confluence

The Sangameshwara temple at the Sangamam (confluence) of these two rivers is of great importance. Saint Sambandar sings the praise of this temple where he not only refers to the holiness of the place but also to its weavers. The third most important river is the Amaravathy. It rises from the Western Ghats bringing with it the waters of Chinnar, Paambaar and Tenaaar. It passes through the plains near Kallapuram and then flows in a north-easterly direction through Kolumam and Komaralingam both of which are well known for their temples and inscriptions. It then flows through Kavundappatti, Madattukkulam, Kaniyur and Kadattur before flowing into Rajarajapuram or present-day Dharapuram. The river is joined by many streams and minor rivers as it flows along, including the Shanmuga Nadi river from the Palani region. The Amaravathy, too, joins the Cauvery at Kattalai in the Karur region after flowing for about 200 km. The other rivers of importance in the Kongu region are Aliyar rising in the Grass Hills of the Anamalais. It is joined by the Uppaar and Palaar and the river enters Kerala and joins the river Ponnani. The rivers of the Kongu were not mighty or large but were the only water source - a reason why they were considered so important. In a water-deficient region like Coimbatore the importance of rivers cannot be undermined. A combination of small streams, minor rivers and some large rivers has made the Kongu region a combination of fertile and dry areas. Today, the importance of these waterways and rivers has resurfaced thanks to the fury of Nature in the recent past. With the progress of the Kongu region in industry and commerce, its rivers and water systems have become casualties of pollution and encroachment in some places. It is time we realised the importance of water systems and worked to preserve and restore them. (e-mail comments to > with 'heritage' in the subject line.)


Recommended for you