Godavari is primarily a river of central and western India and flows across the Deccan from the Western to the Eastern Ghats, covering a total length of 900 m. The estimated area of its drainage basin is 112,200 sq. m. Its traditional source is on the side of a hill behind the village of Trimbak in Nasik district, Bombay. But according to popular myth it proceeds from the same definitive source as the Ganges, though underground. Its course is generally southeasterly.
After flowing across the Nasik district, it crosses into the dominions of the Nizam of Hyderabad. It flows across the British territory for a considerable terrible and the Pranhita, with its tributaries the Wardha, the Penganga and Wainganga and then joins it. For some distance the river flows between the Nizam's dominions and the Upper Godavari district, thus receiving the Indravati, the Tal and the Sabari. The stream has here a channel varying from 1 to 2 m. in breadth, irregularly broken by alluvial islands. Parallel to the river stretch long ranges of hills can be seen.
Below the junction of the Sabari the channel begins to reduce in size. The adjoining hills gradually close in on both sides and create a lovely scene with a gorge of only 200 yds. Wide through which the water flows into the plain of the delta, stretching to about 60 m. from the sea. The head of the delta is at the village of Dowlaishweram, where the main stream is criss crossed by the irrigation anicut. The river has seven mouths; the largest mouth is the Gautami Godavari. The Godavari is believed to be the most sacred one and once every twelve years the great bathing festival called Pushkaram is held on its banks at Rajahmundry.
The upper waters of the Godavari have historical importance and are scarcely utilized for irrigation, but the entire delta has been turned into a garden of perennial crops by means of the anicut at Dowlaishweram, constructed by Sir Arthur Cotton, from which three main canals are drawn off. The river channelised here is 31 m. wide. The anicut is a substantial mass of stone, bedded in lime cement, about 24 m. long, 130 ft. broad at the base, and 12 ft. high. The stream is thus pent back so as to supply a volume of 3000 cubic ft. of water per second during its low season, and 12,000 cubic ft. at time of flood. The main canals have a total length of 493 m., irrigating 662,000 acres, and all navigable; and there are 1929 m. of distributary channels. In 1864 water-communication was opened between the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna. Rocky barriers and rapids block the navigation in the upper portion of the Godavari. Several attempts have been made to build canals round these barriers, however little success was achieved and the commission has been abandoned.