Rambakan Oya Reservoir and Archaeological Ruins

Rambaken Oya Reservoir

Rambakan Oya Reservoir, also known as Rambukkan Oya Dam (Sinhala: රඹකැන්ඔය ජලාශය), is a large irrigation tank situated in Maha Oya Divisional Secretary's Division, Ampara District, Sri Lanka. The site can be reached by travelling along the reservoir road about 14 km distance from Maha Oya town.

Rambakan Oya Development Scheme

As a solution for the drinking and irrigation problems in the area, constructing a dam by restoring and enlarging the old dam at Rambakan Oya was proposed under the Rambakan Oya Development Scheme in the 1970s (Richardson & Corey, 1976). After years, the construction work of the dam was commenced on 12 February 2007. Under the main scheme, construction of the reservoir (56 MCM capacity, 797 ha. water spread area), the dam (1,225 m. length) and 2 radial gated spillways were completed. Several minor tanks were also rehabilitated (Polwathu Wewa, Pollebedda Wewa, Niloba Wewa, Kiralagas Wewa and Dumana Wewa) or newly constructed (Buruthana Wewa and Pinthaliya Wewa) as a part of the total project. The completed reservoir was declared open on 20 July 2013, by Mahinda Rajapakse, the then-president of Sri Lanka.

Archaeological ruins

A large number of archaeological ruins including a mile-long ancient dam (Maha Watala Kandiya) and an incomplete stone channel have been discovered at the site (Lewis, 1907). The old dam has been constructed in a standard manner connecting two nearby mountains, Gorikanda and Galkanda. The stone channel of Maha Watawala Kandiya has been constructed out of enormous slabs of split or wedged stone and stones are joined together at their ends (Lewis, 1907). Placed as they are, two parallel channels run dead true for 366 ft. (Lewis, 1907). However, the remaining ruins indicate that the construction of the Rambakan Oya dam was never completed (Lewis, 1907).

There are several opinions regarding the ancient Rambakan Oya reservoir. Some authors believe that the reservoir was commenced by a prince named Giri Abaya who ruled the east in the 3rd century B.C. According to some, it was a work started by Prince Saddhatissa, who was administrating this area under his elder brother, King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.).

A Protected Site

The ancient Tank bund of Rambukken Oya (Watawala Kandiya) situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Pollebedda, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Maha Oya is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 January 2009. 

One mile long ancient dam of Rambaken Oya The old sluice Spill ways, Rambaken Oya Scattered ruins, Rambaken Oya


1) Lewis, F., 1907. Nuwara-gala, Eastern Province. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 19(58), pp.142-153.
2) Richardson, E.V. and Corey, G.L., 1976. An Appraisal of Technical Aspects of the Rambukkan Oya Irrigation Scheme-Sri Lanka. Colorado State University. pp.1-2.
3) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p. 108.

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This page was last updated on 10 October 2023
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