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Grand Anicut (Kallanai), Oldest Dam in the World


Posted Date: 20-Aug-2010  Last Updated:   Category: UNESCO Heritage Sites    
Author: Member Level: Gold    Points: 25 (Rs 10)


Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is perhaps the oldest dam in the world, constructed by the Chola King Karikalan as early as in the 1st Century CE.



Grand Anicut (Kallanai)


The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) [Tamil: கல்லணை] is perhaps the oldest dam in the world. The original name of Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is Kallanai and Grand Anicut is only the Anglicized version. This oldest dam in the world, Grand Anicut (Kallanai), is located in Tamilnadu, India. It is built on the River Kavery (Cauvery). The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) was built by the Chola King Karikalan. The Grand Anicut (Kallanai)was built centuries back, as early as in the 1st Century CE. The amazing fact about the Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is that this dam is still in use, though there were minor additions and alterations by the British engineers in the nineteenth and in the twentieth centuries.


Grand Anicut (Kallanai)
Grand Anicut (Kallanai).
19th Century British additions to the original dam
are also visible in this picture.




The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) stores the water of the Kavery River. The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is a huge water body of unhewn stone. The length of the Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is 329 metres (1,080 feet) and the width of the Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is 20 metres (60 feet). The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) is situated across the main water-flow of the River Kaveri. Recently, there are preparations to make Grand Anicut (Kallanai) a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Grand Anicut (Kallanai) deserves this honour as the oldest dam in the World.

The Grand Anicut (Kallanai) has served the Tamil peasants for nearly 2000 years by assisting them a great deal for irrigation. The catchment basin of the Grand Anicut (Kallanai), or the place where irrigation water is supplied from the Grand Anicut (Kallanai), is measured over 1,000,000 acres (4,000 square kilometres). In fact, Grand Anicut (Kallanai) was the model when later engineers like Sir Arthur Cotton, after 1700-1800 years or so, attempted to build modern dams with European technologies on the River Kavery (Cauvery) in the colonial Tamilnadu. about 1,000,000 acres (4,000 square kilometres).


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