Kallanai is also known as the “Grand Anicut”. It is one of the oldest irrigation dams in the world built around 2000 years ago.It is the world ancient first dam which is built (In Running water) across the Kaveri River in Trichy District in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.
The dam was originally constructed by the ‘Chola king Karikalan’ around the 2nd Century AD and is considered to be one of the oldest water-diversion or water-regulator structures in the world which is still in use.
The Kallanai dam was originally built by Karikala Chola around second century AD ( 2000 years ago). The main idea behind constructing the dam was to divert the river to the delta districts thereby boosting irrigation. The dam was then re-modeled by the British during the 19th century.
In 1804, Captain Caldwell, a military engineer was appointed to make a study on the Kaveri river and promote irrigation for the delta region. The main reason to bulit the dam is that to divert floods from the Kaveri branch of the river into the Kollidam branch “via a short connecting stream”. He proposed a solution and raised the dam stones to a height of 0.69 m, thus increasing the capacity of the dam.
The Lower Anaicut was built by Sir Arthur Cotton in 19th century AD across Coleroon, the major tributary of Cauvery,it is said to be a replicated structure of Kallanai till now.
The dam was constructed in a elegant way to see the dam from any point. The dam is about 329 m (1,079 ft) long, 20 m (66 ft) wide and 5.4 m (18ft) high.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 Kollidam river spilts the formation of silt.the other retains the name Kaveri, and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar. On the seaside face of its delta are the seaports of Nagapattinam and Karaikal.
About the Dam :
The main purpose of the Kallanai dam was to divert the waters of the Kaveri across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals. The dam splits the river Kaveri into 4 streams known as Kollidam Aru, Kaveri, Vennaru and Puthu Aru.
The dam is made of roughly cemented stone and is 1,080 feet long and 60 feet wide, across the main stream of the Cauvery. The area is irrigated by the ancient irrigation network of which the dam was the centrepiece, covering about 69,000 acres. By the early 20th century, the irrigated area had increased to about 1,000,000 acres.
From Sarkarpalayam village, one can take the Sarkarpalayam-Kalanai road and 1.5 km after reaching Thogur village, lies the Kallanai Dam. Taxis can be hired from Tiruchirapalli.
The nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli airport about 13 kms away from the dam site.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Lalgudi railway station Junction which is 4 kms away from the Kallanai Dam.
Kallanai dam is 45.3 Kms (1 Hour 12 Minutes) from Thanjavur old bus stand, 51.6 Kms (1 Hour) from Thanjavur New bus stand, 19.5 Kms (25 Minutes) from Tiruchirappalli.