Eth Pokuna / Elephant Pond (ඇත් පොකුණ)

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There is a huge man-made pond near Lankaramaya in Anuradhapura, called “Eth Pokuna” or “Elephant Pond”. It is a rectangular pond that spans 159 meters in length, 52.7 meters in width, and 9.5 meters in depth with a holding capacity of 75,000 cubic meters of water. The pond got its name due to its massive size and is part of the monastery landscape of the Abhayagriya monastery, which covers over 500 acres. The tank is made out of large stone blocks stacked at an angle along the walls, and there are three sets of stairs leading to the bottom, on the south, north, and eastern sides. However, the bottom is not paved.

It is not known how the name came to be but possibly due to its sheer size. H.E Weerasooriya records that this pond was called “Kuruwe Wewa” by the locals. The Maha Bodhi Vamsa written in the 12th century mentions two ponds in the Abhayagriya monastery called Diggal Vila and Masthota Vila. It is believed that Masthota Vila is the pond known as Eth Pokuna today.

The water to this pond has been supplied from the Periyamkulama Tank through a network of underground conduits, and you still can see part of the water lines made out of stone blocks. The water is filtered through external filter pits before the water is fed to the pond.

These underground canals still work after so many hundreds of years and in 1982 after a very heavy rainy season, you could see water pouring through these inlets from the Periyamkulama tank.

This tank probably has been used by the monks in the Abayagiri monastery who amounted to over five thousand priests.


  • Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka.
  • H.E. Weerasooriya, 1939. A historical guide to Anuradhapura’s ruins. Colombo: W.E. Bastian.

Also See

Map of Eth Pokuna

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Driving Directions to Eth Pokuna (Anuradhapura)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map


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