Ancient irrigation system in Sri Lanka – The Fascinating Heritage of Ceylon

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Old bridge across the Yodha ela
Old bridge across the Yodha ela | Img credit :Gihan JayaweeraOld bridge across the Yodha ela, BakamunaCC BY-SA 3.0


There have been advanced civilisations thriving in Sri Lanka going back thousands of years. One of the most remarkable pieces of evidence associated with them, are their irrigation systems.


These irrigation systems can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, with some examples consisting of massive man-made reservoirs that were built as far back as the fourth century.

Early History

The earliest example of a massive reservoir is the ‘Abaya Wewa’, which is believed to have been built in the 3rd century B.C. Building such an ambitious structure so early on allowed ancient Sri Lankans to develop skills for landscaping quite early.

Valve Pits

Researchers discovered that these ancient engineers relied on the use of a concept known as ‘valve pits’ to regulate the flow of water from large bodies of water, which made their tasks exceptionally easy. European only started utilising this technique as recently as the 1800s.

Mysterious Precision

Yoda Ela is a has a length of almost a hundred kilometres and was built at a gradient of 6-12 inches per mile to take care of excess water. Archaeologists and engineers alike are still baffled as to how these ancient workers managed such precise work. If you’re staying at one of the boutique hotels in Sigiriya such as the likes of Water Garden Sigiriya there are many ancient reservoirs nearby to explore.











Sri Lanka’s ancient irrigation systems are legendary, and if you ever find yourself in the country, an essential exploratory experience.









Filled with wanderlust that seeks to explore distant shores and captivated by the colors and vibrancy of exotic cultures, Kanya Mae writes on the beautiful, exciting, and enchanting wonders of the world. She is a writer who not only has a passion for travel, but also has a background in fashion, art and media.Google+


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