Basawakkulama Tank ( Wewa )
King Paduwasdeva ( 504-474 BC ), whose initial Vijithapura took princess Subaddhakacanna from North India. Following her came six of her seven siblings who placed their villages throughout the country. The region in which prince Anuradha set himself was called Anuradhapura. According to Recordings, he established the first tank in the countryside near to his city. Following this tank was developed by king Pandukabhaya (437-367 BC), the son of Panduvasudeva’s daughter, to provide water for his enlarged metropolis. The tank was named Abaya Vapi in memory of his uncles, Abaya, who governed the country before him. This tank ( presently known as Basawakkulama Wewa) was the foundation stone of a magnificent irrigation system not secondary to any ancient civilization of the world.
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The expansion of the tank by King Pandukabhaya transformed it into Basawakkulama Wewa, now recognized as a significant reservoir in Sri Lanka's history. The tank's original purpose was to collect rainfall in close proximity to the city, providing a reliable water supply and fulfilling the bathing needs of the inhabitants. Although its current surface area is around 174 hectares, the tank's original size might have been slightly larger. Despite its seemingly modest dimensions, Basawakkulama Wewa was thoughtfully designed to maximize its efficiency, considering the limitations of the catchment area.
A Glimpse into the Past: H. Parker's Description
H. Parker's book, "Ancient Ceylon," published in 1909, provides valuable insights into the design and characteristics of Basawakkulama Wewa. The tank's enduring nature is highlighted, as it remained intact and fully functional for over 1500 years, while Anuradhapura thrived as a city. Reservoirs, like Basawakkulama Wewa, often lack detailed historical records as they silently perform their intended functions. However, the water levels maintained within them year after year tell the story of their reliability.
Basawakkulama Wewa Today
Despite the passage of 2500 years, Basawakkulama Wewa continues to supply water to Anuradhapura. The tank covers an impressive surface area of 255 acres and is a testament to the advanced engineering skills of ancient Sri Lankans. The preservation and conservation of this ancient heritage are of utmost importance to ensure that future generations can appreciate and learn from the remarkable achievements of their ancestors. Basawakkulama Wewa stands as a reminder of the rich hydro heritage of Sri Lanka, which played a crucial role in the development and sustenance of ancient civilizations.
Exploring Anuradhapura and Basawakkulama Wewa
Visiting Basawakkulama Wewa offers a glimpse into the glorious past of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura can be reached through various routes from Colombo. The commonly used route is via Kurunegala, passing through Dambulla, which offers scenic views and access to other ancient heritage sites. Apart from exploring the tank, visitors can discover the architectural wonders of Anuradhapura, including magnificent stupas, monastic complexes, and sacred Bodhi trees. Additionally, several places of interest lie in close proximity to Basawakkulama Wewa, providing an opportunity to delve deeper into the rich history and culture of Sri Lanka.