Giant canal built on the footprints of a pregnant ostrich

Giant canal made in the footsteps of a pregnant eel, Water to 120 village tanks through 12 systems, The first 17 miles of landfall is 6 inches per mile,Water for elephants in 48 ponds

 Kondupattaman Selpi, the Ten Commandments on Water

The oldest giant canal is not really a canal but a 54 mile long lake from Kalawewa to Tissawewa.  The history of the Yoda Ela is as long as the Yoda Ela, a unique creation that embodies the glory of local Vapi and Irrigation dating back to five thousand years.  When the son of Kasyapa, who was greedy for kingship, asked his father King Dhatusena to show him the wealth he had earned, he ordered his son to come with him to show the wealth he had earned for the country and the nation.  Legend has it that along the canal wall.  That sensitive history is curled up along the giant canal.

The origin of Kalawewa is known as ‘Gona Nadi’ in the Kalaoya Mahavamsa.  By the first century, Kalawewa and Balaluwewa existed not as tanks but as lakes.  Pliny, a tourist who came here during the time when Ptolemy created the map of Ceylon, mentions a lake called ‘Megisba’ in the country of Thaparbon (Sri Lanka).  These lakes later became Kalawewa and Balaluwewa.


A fairy tale related to Kalawewa still exists in folklore.  People also believe that the Kadawara of that time is the god who protects Kalawewa today.  Kadawara lived during the reigns of King Mahasen and King Vasabha.  The Vasabha Maha Mahasen kings are considered to be the tank captains of the tank bound country.  Therefore, it can be considered that the origin of Kalawewa was made by King Mahasen or King Vasabha who lived in the first century.  King Dhatusena lived in the fifth century.  Cree.  ?.  King Dhatusena ruled in the capital Anuradhapura for 18 years from 459 to 477.  King Dhatusena reconstructed Kalawewa and Balaluwewa as a large tank.

The 54 km long Yoda Ela from Kalawewa to Tissawewa was built by King Dhatusena.  The first seventeen miles are 6 inches per mile.  That is one reason why the Yoda Ela is considered a unique creation.  There is also a popular opinion in the area that a pregnant elk was walking in front and cutting the giant canal along the path she had taken.  The Mahavamsa states that King Dhatusena completed the construction of the giant canal 7 years before he left the kingdom.  History shows that the Yoda Ela was able to supply water to 120 village tanks through 12 suspension systems covering an area of 114000 acres by constructing fields spread over 180 square miles.

The Minipe – Elahera – Yoda Ela built by King Mahasen was built in the first century.  This may be the beginning of the giant canal concept.  Just as the vascular system spreads all over the body and protects the body when studying the ancient irrigation system, the irrigation system known as Yoda Ela has spread all over Rajarata and developed all areas of Rajarata.  The Giant Canal concept has in the past met the

needs of fluid exchange, such as moving water from a higher basin to a lower basin – from tank to tank – to storing excess water.  This can be described as a victory by man over something that nature has not accomplished.

During the reign of King Sena II, a huge canal was cut from the upper reaches of the Dambulla Oya to the lower Malwathu Oya.  A giant canal has carried water from Malwathu Oya to Mahakanadara Lake.  The giant canals have all flowed from a high water basin to a low water basin.

Cree.  ?.  In 290, King Mahasen dug a giant canal from Balalu Lake to Usgala Siyambalangamuwa and stored the water in the Usgala Siyambalangamuwa tank.  A giant canal has been cut to carry water from the Kalawewa giant canal and the Anuradhapura Abhaya tank to the Mahavilachchiya tank.  A giant canal has been cut from the Nachchaduwa tank to carry water to the Kandy tank.  The other giant canal that carried water from one lake to another was the giant canal that carried water from Kala Wewa to Tissa Wewa.  The main objective of the Yoda Ela concept is to retain most of the water in the basin in Rajarata without flowing into the sea.  The kings were interested in building giant canals combining these tanks and basins as if they were tanks built all over Rajarata, but today most of these giant canals are in ruins.


About seven hundred years after the construction of the Yoda Ela by King Dhatusena, King Parakramabahu renovated and expanded the Yoda Ela and named it ‘Jaya Ganga’.

The dyke of the giant canal or Jaya river is exactly like a dyke.  Here the wall is used only on the underside.  The upper side is a slightly sloping ground.  From Kalawewa to Tissawewa, 34 canals such as Mahakanumulla – Manewa – Kiralogama – Kiriwelheenna flowed into this giant canal.  The water of Ellangawala – the rain water – the water of Kalawewa When all this gathered into the giant canal, it was always full of water like a lake.  It irrigated not only the fields below the giant canal but also the fields and alleys above the giant canal.  A giant canal has been cut to supply water to the Ayiyathagama – Ihala Wewa – Marikaragama – Pahala Wewa – Ihala Amanak Kattuwa tanks along the Mahakanumulla Ellangawa.  Today this is extinct and the above tanks do not get water.

The environment was well preserved due to the giant canal.  Due to the flow of the giant canal above the tanks, the flow of silt into the tanks was prevented.  Controlling the water in the tanks prevented more water from coming in.  During the Maha season, the water collected from the rains into the giant canal is taken to the required tanks and the water is distributed.  There were 48 waterfalls formed in the bends of the canal throughout the giant canal.  The ‘Diyakali’ meets the water needs of the wild animals Seepa and the elephants throughout the year.

Due to the construction of a new Jaya river by the rapid Mahaweli, part of the old giant canal, about 15 km away from Mahailluppallama to Batuwatta, became obsolete due to its disposal.  On the way to the New Jaya River, the old giant canal was cut in some places.  There is hardly a giant canal in such places today.  In some places the Aluth Jaya Ganga has flowed from the ancient tank to the tank.

The new Jaya Ganga is flowing fast in some places.  In such places the Jayaganga is cut to a depth of fifty to sixty feet.  Due to the deepening of the Jayaganga, many villages along the Jayaganga have dried up and are facing water shortages.  Some villages have even found it difficult to obtain drinking water.  Because of the rapid flow of the Jaya River – the lakes connected to it quickly fill with silt.  Already the Kiriamunakolewewa – Konwewa – Kiralogamawewa tanks are overflowing with silt.  Ecosystems have been largely destroyed by the New Jaya River.  Irrigation engineer Mahinda Panapitiya, who led the construction of the new Jaya Ganga in mid – 1975, recently confessed to Economic Inquiry that he had caused serious damage by creating the new Jaya Ganga.  He is eager to rectify this again.

There are no vices of this new Jaya river in the old giant canal.  The service rendered to the country and the people by the giant canal is many.

canal sri lankan

Groundwater was able to be maintained at high levels throughout the area where the giant canal flowed.  Due to this a number of fertile tank villages were established in the vicinity of the Yoda Ela.  An ecosystem nourished by groundwater was created.

Vapi was able to feed the dark lakes of the craft.  To control evaporation, the canal-net was overgrown with vegetation.  The water collected during the rainy season could be released into the lakes during the dry season.

 The ‘Diyakali’ in the canals were perpetual springs.  In those days, the giant canal stood like a giant in the middle of Rajarata and fed the people and the countryside.

The people of the area often point out the need to rehabilitate this unique creation for future generations.  At the same time, action should be taken to preserve this as a National Heritage Site and a World Heritage Site.

Restoring and conserving the ancient giant canal is truly a national mission of the era.  Cree.  ?.  Around 1200, the Great Canal was first restored by the Great Parakumbas.  Next, for the second time, the reconstruction of this giant canal has not yet been done by anyone, but J.P.  R.  During the reign of King Jayewardene, a ‘new river of victory’ was created to divert the miraculous giant canal of King Dhatusena and carry the Mahaweli water to Rajarata instead.  This was a brutal destruction not only of King Khati Dhatusena but also of the local cosmic Vapi craft.  Even today, the Yoda Ela, our historical heritage, is in the jungle.  Degraded and captured by intruders and extinct.

The serpent is a sacred object.  Because of this, the ancients believed that the god was possessed by a serpent.  Accordingly, it is believed that the gods in the guise of snakes are engaged in guarding treasures, properties and temples.  Water is such a great resource.  Due to this the cobra symbol is also used to protect the water.  That is why a snake foam symbol was used at the place where a lake was known the day before yesterday.  Knowing or not knowing the meaning of the Mahaweli, snake foam is also used as a symbol today.

Rajaratiya’s life was saved by water.  So water was considered a deity.  Water was offered as a most sacred object.  Water was revered.  The best example of this is the inscription ‘Kondu Pattaman’ which is currently preserved in the Ampara Government Agent’s Office.  King Dappula, the son of King Sirisangabo and Queen Divi Gon, has prepared this inscription with the Ten Commandments.  It tells you how to use water.

 There are ten restrictions.  Ten restrictions have been introduced such as the Diyapathayam ban, the land ban and the Batticaloa ban.  This proves that there was good water management at that time as well.  The Yoda Ela has also been constructed in a manner that does not exceed those restrictions.

In particular, every drain that drains water out of the giant canal is used not from the bottom – but about three feet above the bottom.  This is due to the presence of salts and minerals in the water at the bottom of the giant canal.  Such water is not good for seedlings.  So the hover is placed on top to release fresh

water into the paddy fields as high as possible.  The giant canal seems to have been created with a good understanding of water management and the pros and cons of water.

Therefore, by rehabilitating the Yoda Ela, not only the Yoda Ela but also the local irrigation civilization associated with the Yoda Ela will be preserved.

Dr. P.  B.  Dharmasena


Eppawala Bandara Ekanayake

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