Wednesday, 19 November 2014

2,000 year old dam - Grand Anaicut (Kallanai), Tamil Nadu, India: - world's oldest dam

Grand Anaicut (Kallanai) -world's oldest dam. credit:

Kallanai-world's oldest dam.India.
In the second century BC the great king of  South India - Karikala Chola of the Chola dynasty built the first ever water diversionary and water regulating structure / dam in the world called ''The Grand Anaicut'' (Kalanai in local parlance - Tamil) across the river Cauvery mainly for irrigation and flood control purpose. It is about 15 Km from Triruchirapalli, a major city in Tamil Nadu and still going strong. Karikala Chola thus brought a vast area in the delta under cultivation. He was the first king or head that time to have done this great feat- a great engineering marvel, considering the time as far back as 2,000 years ago. The dam was 329 meters (1079 feet) long, 20 meters (66 feet ) wide and 5.4 meters (18 feet) high, built from uneven granite stones.The main purpose  of the dam was to retain the water supply in the Cauvery and divert the surplus into the Coleroon river through the Ullar river.

The Cauvery river splits into two rivers up stream 20 miles (32 km) west of Kallanai forming the island of Srirangam before rejoining at Kallanai. The northern river is the Kollidam (Coleroon); the other being the Cauvery whose confluence with the Bay of Bengal is near Poompuhar.
Kallanai_Dam.Tamil Nadu,
The ancient irrigation net work of channels in the delta irrigated roughly 69,000 acres; now it covers more  than a million acres, covering  a vast 
area in the delta districts of  Thanjavur, Thiruvarur
and Nagapatnam. In the 19 th century British engineers, on seeing this massive ancient dam, were very much impressed by its design and the strategic location chosen by the great Chola King and his ingenuity and foresight. Captain Caldwell (1804), British military engineer of repute raised the crest of the dam by  0.69  meter  and  also  the  river embankments so that flood waters won't breach the left bank and and rush down north into the Kollidam, thus allowing surplus water into the Cauvery that cuts through the delta. Subsequently Major Sim (1829) to avoid excess formation of silts, had under sluices built across the river with outlets connecting Kollidam through the  Ullar  river. Sir Arthur Cotton’s 19th century dam - lower Anaicut across  the Coleroon (Kollidam) river , a major tributary of Cauvery, is stated to  be a  similar design.

People of  Tamil Nadu  are urging the central
government at Delhi to have this great dam included in the list of ''World Heritage Sites'' by virtue of its being a 2000 year-plus old dam - a great maiden engineering wonder. No doubt,
Kallanai,India - oldest dam in the world.

Kallanai-world's oldest dam.India.

the great king Karikala Chola was a great visionary.