The Barakar River is the prime tributary of Damodar River. It is also the only tributary of Damodar. The river begins near Padma in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand, flows for 225 km across the northern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau, mostly in a west to east direction, and finally joins the Damodar near Dishergarh in Bardhaman district of West Bengal. It has a catchment area of around 6159 km². The main tributaries of Damodar are Barsoti and Usri that flow in from the south and north respectively. Apart from the two main tributaries around fifteen medium and small streams also join it.
The Barakar River flows in the boundary of the northern portion of Parashanth Hill at an elevation of 1350 m/4470 ft. The highest hill in the region is located in Giridih district of Jharkhand and a centre of Jain pilgrimage.
The river flows ferociously during the monsoon months in its upper courses and has already washed away two bridges build successively on the Grand Trunk Road. The great stone bridge across the river near Barhi, in Hazaribagh district was built around 1848, was washed away in 1913, after a fall of 10 inches of rain in 24 hours. The narrow iron bridge was again built to replace it. This bridge withstood the strains of troop movement during the Second World War, but gave way in 1946, with another great flood. A new bridge built in the fifties has withstood the fury of the river. Tilayia was DVC`s first dam was across the Barakar at Tilayia, in Hazaribagh district of Bihar, which is now in Jharkhand
Fisheries along Barakar River
The reservoirs at Tilaiya and Maithon had ample scope for development of fisheries. Efforts were made to introduce carps once the water accumulated behind the dams. However, the plans did not follow accordingly largely due to the alarming presence of predatory catfish W. attu and other predators such as Notopterus chitala and Barilius bola at Tilaiya, and catfishes Wallago attu and Aorichthys aor, at Maithon. These predators are ferocious and eat away the stocked carps Trash and uneconomic fishes form dense population at Tilaiya reservoir, competing with major carps for food. The main species of catch at both the places are catla, mrigala, rohita and calbasu.