Noyyal – Rally for Rivers

    River length: 180 km
    Basin area: 3510 sq km
    Population in basin: 2.1 million
    States in basin: Tamil Nadu

    Major cities using water

    Coimbatore (pop: 1.1 million)

    River Depletion

    • Dry season drought risk: High
    • Monsoon flood risk: Low to Medium

    Economic & Environmental Significance

    • The Noyyal is a tributary of the Kaveri and originates in the Velliangiri Hills. The river travels through the cities of Coimbatore and Tiruppur and meets the Kaveri at Noyyal in Karur district.
    • At one time, the drinking water needs of the area from Coimbatore to Tiruppur were well served by the Noyyal and several canals, tanks and rivulets around the town. It was an efficient system that provided water transport and storage, and maintained stable groundwater levels. It is believed that there were around 32 tanks in this area.
    • With the urbanization of this region, the system fell into neglect and the number of functional tanks has reduced drastically. Today, only eleven are left, in varying levels of disrepair.
    • This ancient yet effective system of water supply no longer works and water is scarce in the region. Agriculture has suffered greatly. At one time, the river irrigated over 350,000 hectares, but today due to lack of irrigation water, lakhs of coconut trees in the area have gone dry and have been cut down.

    Spiritual & Cultural Significance

    The “Noyyal” is a sacred river in Tamil history. It was originally known as Kanchi Nadi, and only later came to be known as Noyyal, which means “one who is free of illness.”

    Many temples and centers for the arts were once found along the river at Perur, near Coimbatore. The ancient Pateeshwarar temple at Perur is still the venue of the Natyanjali, an annual dance festival.

    The source of the Noyyal – the Velliangiri Hills – are known as Dakshin Kailash or South Kailash, and in the yogic lore, Adiyogi – the first yogi – spent time here.


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