Parakrama Samudraya is a gigantic, intricate and sophisticated water storage system. This gigantic tank was constructed in the 12th century AD in the Polonnaruwa. During the period of the reign of Parakramabahu the Great 1153-1186 AD.
There were originally 7 sluices and 11 canals in and out of this gigantic reservoir. It has a surface area of 9 square miles or 2500 hectares. And capacity of over 134 million cubic meters. The 40 feet high embankment runs a length of 8.5 miles or 13.6 km. This have a compacted earthwork of volume over 90 million cubic feet, or normal earthwork of over 1080 million cubic feet. Which is over 4 million truckloads in today’s terms. Today only you can see a part of the original creation of it.
Parakrama Samudra has 28 square miles or 180200 acres of paddy land. Sri Lanka won acclaim as “the Granary of the East” in the monumental period of the Polonnaruwa era during the reign of Parakramabahu the Great. This is a living engineering marvel of ancient Sri Lanka.
According to the Mahawamsa, King Parakrmabahu the Great blocked Kara Ganga with a dam between hills and brought the mighty floodwaters to Parakrama Samudra by using a large canal known as Akasa Ganga. Today, we call the Kara Ganga as Amban Ganga and the canal is the Angamedilla cannel.
Main Reservoirs of the Parakrama Samudraya
The gigantic reservoir consists of five separate reservoirs connected only by narrow channels at low water. These reservoirs help to reduce the pressure on the main dam. These five reservoirs are,
- Thopa Vewa
- Eramudu Vewa (Katu Vewa)
- Dumbuthula Vewa
- Kalahagala Vewa
- Bhu Vewa
The northernmost reservoir is the oldest and we call it as “Topa Vewa”. Which was built around 386 AD. However at the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great advised to build the other sections and to expand it. The middle section is Eramudu Vewa. Thus the southernmost portion at the highest elevation is Dumbutula Vewa.
Apart from the main reservoirs, there were many smaller tanks. Because they are around the main tank mainly to supply water to these main tanks. Therefore they can take the excess water.
Reconstruction of the Parakrama Samudraya
In the latter part of the 19th century, during the reconstruction of this, the water which was originally flowed to Thopa Vewa started flowing to Bhu Vewa. In order to control this, a temporary dam was constructed blocking the water flowing to Bhu Vewa. But tThis later became a permanent road isolating Bhu Vewa and Kalahagala Vewa from this Samudraya.
Current Dimensions of Parakrama Samudraya
Length: 14km or 8 ½ miles
Height from the outside: 12.2m or 40 feet
Average depth: 25 feet