"Not one drop of water must flow into the ocean without serving the purposes of man"
King Parakrambahu the great (1164-1196 AD), the builder of rainwater reservoir "Sea of Parakrama"
Come'n let's drive
the bund of the largest ancient Rainwater Reservoir of the island, Parakrama Samudraya. At 2100 hectares (5600 acres) it is more like an inland sea. In the rainy season the rainwater reservoir is in its full splendour. In its full capacity & full flow, with the roar of the waves & the wind & the spray of water crashing onto the car, the drive around the 14km long bund is more like a drive along a highway by a beach with sweeping winds.
Location: Western flank of the city of Polonnaruwa (WHS), Polonnaruwa district, North Central Province ("Raja Rata" meaning "The king's country" & "Wew Badi Rata" meaning "Country of reservoirs" in Sinhalese as known in ancient Lanka).
Conception: To retain the monsoon rains (South Western - May to July - Yala monsoon & North Eastern - November to January - Maha monsoon) in the Dry Zone (the northern half & the whole of the east of the country).
Restoration: After a breach in the walls in the later thirteenth century, the tank fell into disrepair & was restored in the 1950s.
Diversion of a river to the tank
Having driven to the very end of the dam (all 8 1/2 miles) and further along the canal which feed the Parakrama Samudraya we come to Angammadilla. River Amban is diverted towards the reservoir at this point. The reservoir is also fed by a 40km long canal & a link from Giritale tank.
Spend our day right here.
We walk about 500 meters in to the jungle to arrive at an unspoilt camping/bathing site. Distanced from the town this location is still untouched and is great place to spend the day. This land belongs to the bulldog & bulldozer of ancient Lanka, the elephant. Elephant dung are scattered along the path to the river. We will have to return to the hotel before the sun set in since it could be bit scary when it is dark. The wild elephants.
Surface area of the reservoir: 2100 ha
Dam of Parakrama Samudraya: The 8 1/2 miles (14km) long embankment that rises to 80 feet - average 40 feet (12.2 meters) - is encircled by rugged hills.
Distribution of water: 11 channels leading water in different directions to feed a network of irrigation canals & minor tanks.
Irrigation of land: Over 18000 acres of paddy land supported by the reservoir.
Birdlife: the reservoirs attracts numerous water birds including cormorants & pelicans.
King Parakrambahu the great (1164-1196 AD)
King Parakramabahu the great built or restored 165 dams, 3910 canals, 163 major reservoirs and 2376 minor tanks. During his reign of 33 years Lanka became "The granary of the orient" achieving the zenith of development in irrigation and agriculture of the Sinhalese civilization. He restored three great dagobas at Anurdahpura yet reserved his greatest efforts on a building spree on his capital, Polonnaruwa erecting huge buildings, planning beautiful parks. Parakrama Samudraya is his crowning achievement.