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Kala Wewa

Kala Wewa Kala Wewa Kala Wewa

Location Details

Kala Wewa is an ancient reservoir in Anuradhapura District of the North Central Province, Sri Lanka. 

This was built by King Dhathusena, in 5th Century AD., Largest Reservoir in Anuradhapura. 

Tamil invaders who arrived from South India ruled the island during the period from 429 to 455 AD. King Dhathusena deposed them and united the country and then he wanted to develop the irrigation system by constructing several tanks, canals, etc., in and round the kingdom of Anuradhapura.

After completion of construction of Kala Wewa, the king built another tank called Balalu Wewa  near by and connected the two together making the biggest tank in Sri Lanka. His son King Mahinda II who ruled the country during 777 – 797 CE expanded the tank further. Water of the tank was transferred to the Thisā Wewa in Anuradhapura by an ancient 54 miles (86.9 km) long canal called Jaya Ganga alias Yoda Ella which has a fine slope of one feet per mile but according to some historians it is one inch per mile.


King Dhathusena was very keen on information with regard to a spot very suitable to construct a tank to be the massive one in the history of Sri Lanka. There are some folklore on how the king was able to find a place for the tank he imagined. There was a man called Kadawara who left his family and went to live in the jungle due to his wife’s unbearable and repeated insults and disrespects towards him. After some years in the jungle he was well accustomed with wild animals and lived with a flock of deer. One day a hunter suddenly noticed this strange man living with animals in the jungle; went to the palace and told the king that it seems that this strange man lives in the forest in order to guard an unknown treasure there. King sent his army to catch him. Kadawara was caught and brought to the palace. When the king questioned him of the treasure, Kadawara revealed his true story and told real reason for his leaving the city and living in the jungle. Then king asked him of any interesting thing he had seen while living in the jungle. Kadawa said, “No sir, I have not seen anything interesting but in a brook somewhere in the jungle, water is being blocked by the flora called Kala that has been grown across that stream. According to this legend, it was the spot wherein the king created the Kala Wewa.


First restoration to the tank is done by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.  The tank was renovated several times in the past as in the period of British Governor Sir William Henry Gregory (1872–1877  and Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon (1883–1890). After the British rule in the country and in 1958, the tank’s bund was reconstructed connecting the tank with Balalu Wewa.


Its circumference is 40 miles (64.4 km) and has a total area of 7 square miles (18.1 km2) at full capacity. Length of the dam is 22,572 feet (6,879.9 m) and the height is 48 feet (14.6 m).


There is a 12 meter high standing statue of Buddha created by same ruler. This statue is named after the village it is situated so it is called Avukana Buddha statue  and it can be seen over-looking at the tank near by.


The reservoir served as one of largest irrigation tanks in ancient time. While supplying water also for the small tanks in rural areas on the way, the canal Jaya Ganga carried water from Kala Wewa and stored enough water in the Thisā Wewa for the population of then capital city of Anuradhapura.

Being one of main storages in the Mahaweli Irrigation Scheme since 1976, the tank serves to the population in the North Central Sri Lanka. It is used for fresh water fishing and the flora, specially the grasses in its valley, is the main sources of silage for the herds of cattle in the area.

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