Abhaya Wewa

Abhaya Wewa
Abhaya Wewa or Abhayavapi, also known as Basawakkulama Wewa (Sinhala: අභය වැව, බසවක්කුලම වැව, අභයවාපි), is an old tank located in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka.

According to historical sources such as Mahawamsa (Chap:10, v.88), King Pandukabhaya (437-367 B.C.), the grandson of Panduwasa Deva (504-474 B.C.), constructed the Abhaya tank at Anuradhapura in the 4th century B.C. (Arumugam, 1969; Fernando, 1980; Seneviratna, 1991). It is probably the most ancient irrigation work in the country (Arumugam, 1969).

The tank was restored in 1874 (Arumugam, 1969).

Basavakkulama pillar inscription of King Sena II (853-887 A.D.)
A pillar inscription belonging to the 9th century A.D. was discovered on the bund of the present tank (Ranawella, 2005). It is now kept at the Inscription Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

The inscription records about a decree issued by King Sena II, prohibiting illegal fishing in Abaya-wewa (Ranawella, 2005).

Abhaya Wewa pillar inscription of Queen Lilavati (1197-1200 A.D.)
This pillar inscription was also found on the bund of the Abhaya Wewa at Anuradhapura (Muller, 1984; Ranawella, 2005). It is now on the display at the Inscription Gallery of Colombo National Museum.

The inscription records about a land grant made by a gentleman named Lag Vijayasingu Kit, the prime minister of the Queen Lilavati, to the monks who were living in the monastery named Ruvan-paya (Ranawella, 2005).

This inscription was discovered incised on a rock in a private land located about a quarter of a mile to the north of the spill of Abhaya Wewa (Paranavitana, 1960).

Abhaya Wewa
Abhayavapi (after restoration in 1874)
Area of tank: 1235 acres
Capacity: 1580 acre-feet
Depth: 15 1/2 feet
Length of bund: 3/4 mile
Length of feeder channel: 1/4 mile
from Tissa Wewa L.L. sluice
No. of sluices: one
No. of spills:

1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.321.
2) Fernando, A.D.N., 1980. Major ancient irrigation works of Sri Lanka. Journal of the Sri Lanka Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22, pp.1-24.
3) Muller, E., 1984. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. pp.69-70.
4) Paranavitana, S., 1960. New Light on the Buddhist era in Ceylon and early Sinhalese chronology. University of Ceylon Review, Vol. XVIII, No.3& 4, 1960 pp. 129-155
5) Ranawella, S. (Ed.), 2005. Sinhala inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 42. (2005). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka. pp.10-14,97-99.
6) Seneviratna, A., 1991. The Ritualization of Space in Buddhist Architecture in Sri Lanka. Concepts of Space: Ancient and Modern. p.372.
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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023
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