Bharathapuzha | PSC Notes

Bharathapuzha | PSC Notes

Bharathapuzha is the second longest river system in Kerala that flows through 3 districts namely Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur. It originates from Tamilnadu and flows towards Kerala through Coimbatore. Across the Bharathappuzha, we can find the maximum no of irrigation projects.

Bharathapuzha was once a perennial river, but nowadays it dries up in the months of summer heat. References of Bharathapuzha can also be found in the William Logan's Malabar Manual.

Basic Facts

  • Second Longest River in Kerala (209 km; 129 miles).
  • Largest River Basin in Kerala.
  • Epithets – Nile of Kerala, Ganga of Kerala & Nila.
  • Origin – Thirumurthy Hills of Anamalai (Western Ghats near Pollachi in Tamil Nadu).
  • Mouth Lakshadweep Sea (Arabian Sea).
    • Port at the mouth of Bharathappuzha – Ponnani.
  • River that originates from and ends at the Arabian Sea.
  • Major Dams – Chulliyar Dam, Meenkara Dam, Valayar Dam, Pothundi Dam.
    • Biggest dam built in Bharathappuzha – Malampuzha (1956).
  • The only river that flows through the Western Ghats via the Palakkad gap.
  • Kerala's First Metal Gate Dam is across Bharathapuzha (Mannannoor, Ottappalam, Palakkad).
  • Longest bridge – Mayyannur Bridge (1.25 Km).
  • Famous places: Thunjan Parambu, Killikkurissimangalam, Kerala Kalamandalam.
  • Famous Pilgrim Centers – Thirunavaya Temple, Thiruvalathur Randu Moorthy Temple.

Bharathapuzha & Different Names

  • Nila (from ‘Bhishma Parva,’ Mahabharata).
  • Perar in ancient times.
  • Pratichi in Srimad Bhagavatam.
  • Chittur Sokanasini (name given by Thunjath Ezhuthachan).
  • Coimbatore – Amaravathipuzha.
  • Malappuram – Ponnanipuzha.
  • Palakkad – Chitturpuzha.

Major Tributaries of Bharathapuzha

There are four main tributaries of Bharatapuzha. There are as follows:
  • Gayathri Puzha
    • Tributaries – Mangalampuzha, Cherukunnapuzha, Ayiloorpuzha, Chulliyar, Meenkarapuzha &Vandazhipuzha.
  • Kalpathi Puzha
    • Tributaries – Korayar, Malampuzha, Varattar & Walayar.
  • Kannadi Puzha (also known as Chittoor puzha).
    • Tributaries – Aliyar, Palar & Uppar.
    • Kannadippuzha joins Bharathapuzha at Parali, Palakkad.
  • Thutha Puzha (originates from Silent Valley National Park).
    • Tributaries – Ambankadavu, Kunthipuzha, Kanjirapuzha & ThooppanaduPuzha.
      • Kunthi Puzha
        • Location – Mannarkkad Taluk (Palakkad).
        • Least polluted river in Kerala.
        • Pathrakadavu Waterfalls.
        • Save Silent Valley Movement.
        • Boswellia serrata (കുന്തിരിക്കം) Trees.
        • River is known for its medicinal qualities.
        • Pathrakadavu Hydroelectric Project of KSEB.
        • Flows through Silent Valley National Park in Kerala.
        • The river tributary directly flows into Bharathapuzha.
        • Flows from north to south through the entire length of Silent Valley National Park.
        • Tributaries – Karingathodu, Valiaparathodu, Madrimaranthodu,  Kunthancholapuzha & Kummaathanthodu. 
Memory Code: കണ്ണാടി നോക്കി തൂത്തു കൊണ്ടിരൂന്ന ഗായത്രി കാൽപാദം കുത്തി ഭാരതപ്പുഴയിൽ വീണു.

Bharathapuzha in Arts & Culture

Bharathapuzha can be termed as the cradle of culture and civilization in Kerala because the river has that much influence over the tradition and the cultural history of Kerala.

Many eminent personalities of the past like Thunchathu Ezhuthachan, Kunchan Nambiar, and Poonthanam who provided great cultural and literary contributions were also nurtured by Nila.

Some of the ritualistic folk, arts, and craft forms were developed along the banks of Nila are as follows:


  • Celebrated once in 12 years
  • Location – Thirunavaya, Malappuram.
  • Derived from 'Maagha - makam.'
    • Lasts 28 days from the appearance of the Makam star in the 'bright' phase of the moon (the fortnight when the moon waxes) in the Saka calendar month of Maagha.
  • First Mamankam – AD 829.
  • Last Mamankam – AD 1755.
  • To break the celebration of Mamankam, Chavers was sent by the Valluvakonathiri.

Kerala Kalamandalam
Kerala Kalamandalam

  • Established in – 1930.
  • Location – Cheruthuruthy, Thrissur.
  • Established by – Vallathol Narayana Menon.

Killikurussi Mangalam, the birthplace of Kunchan Nambiar is situated near this river.

Olappamanna Mana, Vellinezhi – Kalluvazhi chitta (a school of Kathakali formulated by Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon).

Koonathara, Palakkad – Tholpavakoothu (Shadow puppetry ritual dedicated to Bhadrakali and performed in specially built theatres called koothumadams).

The grass mats of Killimangalam (Kora grass mats are woven by the Kuruva community) - UNESCO awarded its seal of excellence to Killimangalam Pulpaya in 2006.

Thirunnavaya Temple – Pithru Tharpanam ritual of the Karkidaka Vavu day.

Adakkaputhur Val Kannadi

Adakkaputhur Val Kannadi, a mirror made by Balan Moossary, similar to that of the much famed Aranmula metal mirror has also its origin on the banks of Bharathapuzha.

It is also on the banks of Nila, as poets famously called Bharathapuzha, our language Malayalam has evolved.

Not only that from Ponnani, the mouth of Bharathapuzha where it merges with the Arabian Sea, emerged Arabi-Malayalam (a confluence of Arabic & Malayalam) and early Mappila songs had their origin on its bank.

Dams in Bharathapuzha

  • Thirumoorthy dam
  • Aliyar dam
  • Chittur puzha dam
  • Kanhira puzha dam
  • Upper aliyar dam
  • Malampuzha dam
  • Mangalam dam
  • Meenkara dam
  • Walayar dam
  • Pothundi dam
  • Chulliyar dam

Malampuzha dam (Palakkad)

  • Largest dam & reservoir (ജലസംഭരണി) in Kerala.
  • Built across the Malampuzha River, a tributary of Bharathapuzha.
  • Construction began in – March 1949.
  • Inaugurated – 1955.
  • The architect of the statue Malampuzha Yakshi – Kanayi Kunhiraman.
Mini Pampa plan (Malappuram)
  • LocationKuttipuram.
  • Halting station/rest place for Sabarimala pilgrims.
  • Official transit point of Sabarimala for pilgrims from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh & northern Kerala.
  • Built on the premises of the Mallur Siva Temple near Kuttippuram bridge.
Meenvallam project (Palakkad)
  • Location – Munnekar, Karimba Panchayat.
  • Mini-hydro electric project.
  • On the tributary of ThuthaPuzha, Kumbanad Puzha.
  • First Micro Hydroelectric power project undertaken by a district panchayat (Palakkad).

Recently in News:

Recently, the Ministry of Tourism organized a webinar Exploring River Nila’ as a part of the Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series.

Like any other river in Kerala, Bharathapuzha is also facing encroachment, pollution, rampant sand mining, deforestation and now is on the verge of extinction.


  • Gateway to Kerala Palakkad.
  • Garden of Kerala Malampuzha.
  • First Rock Garden of South India Malampuzha.
  • Largest Dam in Kerala Idukki.
  • Largest Irrigation project in Kerala Kallada (Kollam).
  • O.V. Vijayan's Novel with Thutha Puzha as background Gurusagaram (ഗുരുസാഗരം).
  • Poet of Nila (നിളയുടെ കവി) P. Kunjiraman Nair.
    • P. Kunjiraman Nair is lamenting the condition of Nila – "Alas! Valiant Kerala is unrecognizable today. The veritable, lovely garden has been turned into a scary cemetery!"
  • Novelist of Nila (നിളയുടെ കഥാകാരൻ) M. T. Vasudevan Nair.
    • M.T. on Nila "More than the great oceans that bear unknown secrets in their wombs, I love my Nila."
  • Edasseri Govindan Nair's poem where he laments the death of the river – Kuttippuram Palam.
    • "Amba Perare nee maari pomo aakulayamorazhukku chaalai"
  • In Arkkam (by Attoor Ravi Varma) also mentions Bharathapuzha as Perar.

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