The river originates in the Satpura range and flows through
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat

Words: Tillana Desai


Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there someday’ – English author AA Milne (1882-1956)
Tapi (also known as Tapti), one of India’s major rivers originates in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district in the Satpura range, from a height of 752m. Apart from Narmada, it is the only river which flows westward into the Arabian Sea.
The history of this river is closely associated with the Anglo Portuguese history. The upper reaches of the river are now deserted, owing to silt accumulation. Tapi waters are usually not used for irrigation.

Historically, many firms used it to export their goods from Surat. Today, the river irrigates close by areas. For the tribals the river is a source of livelihood. It also serves the need of wild creatures like tigers, lions, snakes and sloth bear.

Mythologically, Tapi is the daughter of Lord Surya. According to legend she founded the Kuru dynasty when she married King Samvarna. There is a Purana dedicated to virtues of Tapi, praising the river as holier than all other rivers including the Ganges.
Tapi Purana mentions one can be free from sins bathing in the river. It is as holy as the Ganges or Narmada. The river also finds mention in the Mahabharata.

The efforts of the Surat Municipal Corporation and the state irrigation department to protect the Diamond City from frequent flooding of the Tapi have been in vain. Several attempts to install early warning systems were planned but turned out to be fruitless.


Earlier, 650,000 cusecs of water discharged from the Ukai dam during monsoon would not cause Tapi to overflow. But in 2006, even the release of 400,000 cusecs from the dam had caused heavy flooding in the city. Now, 275,000 cusecs can result in overflow at not one but three different spots in the city.
Tapi is a highly polluted river. It needs urgent dredging to enhance its water flow. But dredging is far from the mind of the authorities. Surat also faces the danger of flooding if water is discharged from Ukai reservoir.

• Flows through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat
• Tributaries are Purna, Panjhra, Vaghur, Girna, Bori and Aner
• Length 724 km
• Also known as Tapati, Tapti, Tapee and Taapi
• Originates at 752 m above sea level