Kallanai Dam with its floodgates open
|Location||Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Construction began||100 BC - 100 AD|
|Built by||''Karikala cholan'' of Chola dynasty|
|Operator(s)||Government of Tamil Nadu|
|Dam and spillways|
|Type of dam||Barrage|
|Height (foundation)||5.4 metres (18 ft)|
|Length||329 metres (1,079 ft)|
|Width (base)||20 metres (66 ft)|
Kallanai (also known as the Grand Anicut) is an ancient dam. It is built (in running water) across the Kaveri river flowing from Tiruchirappalli District to Thanjavur district. Located at a distance of 45 km from Thanjavur, 15 km from Tiruchirappalli, the dam was originally constructed during the reign of Chola king Karikalan in c. 100 BC – c. 100 AD. It is the fourth oldest water diversion or water-regulator structures in the world and the oldest in India which is still in use. Because of its spectacular architecture it is one of the prime tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.
The dam was originally built by King Karikalan of the Chola Dynasty in c. 100 BC – c. 100 AD. It is located on the River in Tiruchirappalli District, approximately 15km from the city of Tiruchirappalli and 45km from the city of Thanjavur. The idea behind the construction of the dam was to divert the river to the delta districts thereby boosting irrigation. The dam was re-modeled by the British during the 19th century. In 1804, Captain Caldwell, a military engineer, was appointed by the British to make a study on the Kaveri river and promote irrigation for the delta region. He found that a large amount of water passed onto the Kollidam leaving behind a small volume for irrigation purposes. Caldwell initially proposed a solution by raising the dam and hence raised the dam stones to a height of 69 centimetres (27 in), thus increasing the capacity of the dam. Following this, Major Sim proposed the idea of undersluices across the river with outlets leading to the Kollidam River (Coleroon) thus preventing formation of silt. The Lower Anaicut built by Sir Arthur Cotton in the 19th century CE across Coleroon, the major tributary of Cauvery, is said to be a replicated structure of Kallanai.
The Kaveri river splits into two at a point 20 miles (32 km) west of Kallanai. The two rivers form the island of Srirangam before joining at Kallanai. The northern channel is called the Kollidam (Coleroon); the other retains the name Kaveri, and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar. On the seaward face of its delta are the seaports of Nagapattinam and Karaikal.
The purpose of the Kallanai was to divert the waters of the Kaveri across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals and to its northern delta branch Kollidam/Coleroon. Downstream of the barrage, the river Kaveri splits into four streams known as Kollidam Aru, Kaveri, Vennaru and Puthu Aru. However, the flood waters can be allowed, by opening the barrage/anaicut gates, to pass through the other three delta branches also to join the sea. It is constructed from unhewn stone spanning the Kaveri and is 329 m (1,079 ft) long, 20 m (66 ft) wide and 5.4 m (18 ft) high. The dam is still in excellent condition, and supplied a model to later engineers, including Sir Arthur Cotton's 19th-century dam across the Kollidam, the major tributary of the Kaveri. The area irrigated by the ancient irrigation network is about 69,000 acres (28,000 ha). By the early 20th century, the irrigated area had been increased to about one million acres (400,000 ha).
The delta farmers of Tamil Nadu have demanded the Tamil Nadu government to honor Karikala Cholan, who built this dam.
Water being discharged from Kallanai in August 2018 witnessing beauty of kallanai in river Kauvery
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grand Anicut.|
- Rahman, Abdur; Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy, and Culture (1999). History of Indian Science, Technology and Culture: Ad 1000-1800. Oxford University Press India. ISBN 978-0-19-564652-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)