The Sea of Parakrama (Parakrama Samudraya), Sri Lanka
The great artificial lake is at once an expression, a statement of
imperial power & monumental feet of engineering: irrigation of 18,000
acres of paddy fields for two seasons a year, a line of defence along
the entire west flank of the city against the marauding Dravidian
invasions from South India & cooling breeze to the citizens. The great
reservoir was named after its imperial designer.
"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
We will drive you around 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
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
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
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
A room with a view: accommodation by the side of the great reservoir:
The government rest house is right on the shoreline of the tank with
rooms opening onto a verandah with beautiful views of the great man made
lake. Along the dam there are few star class hotels closer to the
Pothgul Vehera (Pothgul Temple).
on photo to enlarge