Kallanai-The grand anicut on the Cauvery

August 2, 2006

The grand anicut The Grand Anicut near Trichy, built by the Chola king Karikalan, dates to the 2nd century A.D..It is still in use as an irrigation structure, making it the worlds oldest  continuously used irrigation structure. The Cauvery river branches here into the Kollidam and this is perhaps the beginning of the Cauvery delta. A visit to this place puts in perspective the great engineering feats by the ancients still standing testimony to a glorious tradition. That a structure can last a full 1000 years and be still performing is amazing. When the gates are opened the fishermen gather in a collective and spread their nets for a harvest. Curious onlookers watch the proceedings.




  1. Till now it is belived all over the world that many of the advances in the sciences that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India and China centuries ago, this dam is one example.

  2. I did see the grand anicut many years ago. I was told it was built of lime sand mix. which was the item before the invention of cement. I am not surprised that this feat is part of Tamil Nad the seat of learning in ancient India. This should be part of world heritage site with a difference – it is a heritage site that has substantial economic value to the farming community of the region, not just aesthetic value like the Taj Mahal but an enduring economic one too.

    This should be highlighted by the UNO and listed along with Tamile as a classical language with modern usage still.

    Franklin Samraj

  3. I am glad to come across this item here, and also happy to read the comments from fellow Tamils. I wish to point to another blog where someone has questioned the spelling of ‘Kollidam’ as ‘Coleroon’.

  4. Hi,
    I am very happy to read this mentioned comments because my native is Kallanai (born, study).Every day I am wondering about the beauty of Kallanai but still it is not recognized by any one. It is the oldest dam in the world still alive. If you are visiting the dam in the evening you will get breeze air you will defiantly enjoy a lot. I am requesting the government please make the concern about our Kallanai because it is the symbol of formers soul.

  5. any small items in western world published / advertised in a grant way to attract tourism- but we have 2000year old dam but no significant importance given to it…why dont we (people good in IT) make a great web site & put the details together to tell the outside world about this important place. (instead of depending on government.)

  6. Yes indeed This is our oldest water heritage structure in India and about time it is recognized too.

  7. இன்று தமிழர்களாகிய நாம் நமது அடையாளத்தை இழந்து நிற்கின்றோம்.கல்லணை கட்டி உலகுக்கு வழி காட்டினோம். இன்று வழியின்றித் தவிக்கின்றோம்.இதே போன்று ஒரு அணை கேரளத்திலோ, அல்லது மற்றொரு இந்திய மானிலத்திலாவது அமைந்து இருந்திருந்தால்,இந்திய அரசு இந்த நேரம் World heritage இல் இடம் பிடிக்க வைத்திருக்கும். தமிழ் இளைஞர்களே நாம் யாருக்கும் தாழ்ந்தவர்கள் அல்ல.கரிகாலன் 8 அடி பாய்ந்தார், அவர் இனததவர்களாகிய நாம் 16 அடி பாய வேண்டும்.It is ever first Engineering Marvell in the World. இப்படி ஆங்கிலத்தில் சொன்னாலாவது இன்றைய தமிழ் இளைஞர்கள் உணருவார்கள் என்று எண்ணுகிறேன்

  8. I agree with your sentiments though I cannot read Tamil. I am an Indian and a Kannadiga :)…

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