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The River Kaveri flows through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Its source is a spring in the Brahmagiri Mountains in Mysore at a height of 1320 metres above sea level. Born within sight of the Arabian Sea, which can be seen from the top of the mountain, the river flows in long, lovely curves towards the ocean on the eastern side of the Indian peninsula..Known as "Dakshin Ganga" (the Ganges of the South), it serves as a lifeline to the people of Southern Karnataka, and the Cauvery basin of Tamil Nadu.
According to legend, Kaveri was a beautiful girl given as a gift by Brahma to a childless king named Kaverna. Later, Agastya muni married her on the condition that he would never leave her alone. One day, Agastya muni began teaching his disciples a difficult lesson in philosophy. As time flew by, Kaveri thought that something terrible had happened to him and not wanting to live alone she jumped into a tank. But she did not die. She became a river, flowed up the Brahmagiri Mountain and reappeared as a spring.
The Kaveri is not the same throughput its length of 765 kilometres. At one place it is the Akhandai (immense) Kaveri,swollen with tributaries. Just before enters Tamil Nadu, it is Megha Tadu, the Kaveri-a-goat-can-jump-across. In the Brindavan gardens of Mysore, it is a soft gurgle of water tumbling down a flight of steps, and at the Shivasundaram Falls it is a beautiful demon roaring down the mountain.
As the Kaveri, newly-born, flows through down the Brahmagiri mountain and enters the plain, two small rivers, the Kanaka and the Gajoti, join it. At the meeting place of the three rivers stands the town of Bahamandalam. But even here it is a small river. It is only when it leaves Coorg and two more rivers, Hemavati and Lakshman Theertham join it, that it becomes a large river, broad and deep. It is here that the water of the three rivers is collected in the Krishnaraj Sagar reservoir, on the banks of which is laid one of the most beautiful gardens of Mysore - Brindavan. After Brindavan, the Kaveri bifurcates three times and each time the two branches into which it divides rejoin after some kilometres. Wherever this happens, the land between the branches forms a kind of an island. On the first of these islands stands the famous city of Srirangapatnam where the historic battle between Tipu Sultan and the British was fought. Once the city is left behind, the river splits for the second time and joins again to come down the cliff as the Shivasundaram Falls. The third of these island formations occurs in the state of Tamil Nadu. On this island is the famous pilgrim centre, Srirangam.
The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the flood in the river with a festival called the Flood of the Eighteenth. On the eighteenth day of the month of Aadi (July-August), people come to worship the river. They light special lamps and express their gratitude by throwing offerings of fruits, sweetmeats and flowers. It is a day of rejoicing for the people as they thank the river goddess for showering them with her blessings and prosperity.
The Kaveri plays an important role in the lives of the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The benefits of the Kaveri can be seen in the miles and miles of lush green fields on its banks, the banana and sugarcane plantations and the majestic avenue of trees. It is a popular saying in Tamil Nadu that every grain of earth on its banks is worth its weight in gold.