Mahanadi məhä´nədē [key], river, c.550 mi (885 km) long, rising in S Chhattisgarh state, central India, and flowing north then east through a gorge in the Eastern Ghats, across Odisha (Orissa) state, forming a delta before entering the Bay of Bengal near Cuttack. The Tel and Hasdo rivers are its main tributaries. The Hirakud Dam, at Sambalpur, is the world's largest earthen dam and supports several hydroelectric plants. The Mahanadi irrigates a fertile valley whose chief crops are rice, oilseed, and sugarcane.

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