Saturday, March 27, 2021

Minneriya Reservoir

Minneriya Reservoir
Minneriya Reservoir (or Minneriya Wewa) is a low-land shallow irrigation tank situated in Polonnaruwa District, Sri Lanka (Silva & Gamlath, 2000). It is considered one of the ancient tanks in the country (Silva & Gamlath, 2000).

This is the ancient Manihira-vapi (also called Minihiri, Minihoru), one of the 16 celebrated reservoirs built by King Mahasena [(276-303 A.D.) Arumugam, 1969; Fernando, 1980; Nicholas, 1963; Silva & Gamlath, 2000]. According to chronicles, Mahasena dammed the Kara Ganga and brought the water to Minneriya tank along a canal called Talavatu (Nicholas, 1963). King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) is said to have restored this canal and fill the Manihira tank (Nicholas, 1963). The present Talvatura Oya that flows into Minneriya tank is identified with the ancient Talavatu canal (Nicholas, 1963).

King Sena II (853-887 A.D.) added a sluice and later King Parakramabhu I (1153-1186 A.D.) repaired and improved the tank (Arumugam, 1969; Nicholas, 1963; Silva & Gamlath, 2000]. During the reign of King Nissankamalla (1187–1196 A.D.), the tank was declared as a sanctuary for animals (Nicholas, 1963). However, the tank was abandoned after shifting the country's ancient capital from Polonnaruwa to Yapahuwa (Silva & Gamlath, 2000).

The present tank was restored in 1903 under the British regime and subsequently improved and enlarged in 1953 (Arumugam, 1969; Silva & Gamlath, 2000).

Except the drainage from its own catchment area, the reservoir is fed by Amban Ganga diverted through the Elahera canal (Arumugam, 1969; Silva & Gamlath, 2000). The bund of the reservoir is about 1.47 miles long and the water is extending in an area of about 6300 acres at its full supply level (Arumugam, 1969; Wikramagamage, 2004). The reservoir has 3 sluices (Arumugam, 1969). 


1) Arumugam, S., 1969. Water resources of Ceylon: its utilisation and development. Water Resources Board. p.242.
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) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). p.183.
4) Silva, E.I.L. and Gamlath, G.A.R.K., 2000. Catchment characteristics and water quality of three reservoirs (Victoria, Minneriya and Udawalawe) in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci5, pp.55-73.
5) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.268.

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This page was last updated on 10 October 2021
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