Ruins of Ancient Diga Wewa (Mahakandiya Wewa) Reservoir in Ampara

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By Ms. Badra Kamaladasa (Former Director General of Department of Irrigation)
By Ms. Badra Kamaladasa (Former Director General of Department of Irrigation)

The abandoned ancient Wewa in the Ampara, now known as Mahakandiya Wewa (මහකණ්ඩිය වැව), was mentioned as Diga Wewa (දිගා වැව) in chronicles including the Mahavansaya. Survey maps show that it was built by across main Andal Oya and one of its tributaries. It is of course a “long – Wewa” in the literal sense of the name. In some past records, Diga Wewa was identified as the second largest Wewa in Sri Lanka during an unknown period.

R L. Brohier has mentioned that there are legends that King Kavantissa (205-161 BC) stayed in this area on his way of pilgrimage to Seruvila from Magampura and has made his son Saddhatissa to stay at Dighawewa. Accordingly, it can safely assume that Digawewa would have been in existence even before the 2nd-3rd century BC. However it is not mentioned when Diga wewa was last used for human use. But Mahawansaya indicates that it was renovated during the king’s reign after breach.

two short earth embankments at the lower contour level of the eastern slope of the Uva mountain range is unusually small. Locals believed that the water in the Digawewa was taken to the coast of Kalmunai and to cater that requirement it was augmented by the Minipe Canal. However, nor trace of a canal system has been found so far and neither possible to technically confirm that the Minipe Canal on the left bank of the Mahaweli river could send water to this place. Similarly no clue how much land was cultivated by this Reservoir.

Although some people in previous generations speculated that there were two independent reservoirs operated separately with two sluices, it appears in the survey sheets that it must have been a single reservoir.

The seniors in the area claim that they descended from those who left the Wellassa area after the rebellion of 1818 and survived in the thick jungle of Andal Oya.

Old records show that in 1868, the assistant government agent in charge of Batticaloa requested the restoration of this reservoir from the Government, realizing the benefits it would deliver.

In the year 1901, the Director of Irrigation submitted a technical report to the government elaborating the nature of the ruins and the social background of the area at that time. Surveyor General too has made observations through a report emphasizing the impacts of restoration. Since 1940, the Irrigation Department has carried out engineering surveys for the restoration of Digawewa from time to time, but the government has not granted financial support for its construction. However, since the Andal Oya Reservoir built below the Digawewa through Andal Oya and the Left Bank canal of Senanayake Sea provides continuous water to the downstream farming area, the need of restoration of the Digawewa does not arise much.

It is a matter of concern that one ancient Bissokotuwa, which was intact until recently, has been destroyed by treasure hunter. Two breaches can be observed at the two embankments. Remnants of the Ralapana scattered here and there provide evidence of perfectly finished headworks of the reservoir.

The Digawewa Reservoir bed and the catchment area are currently under the Galoya National Park. Although there is a distance of about 10-15 miles between Digawewa and Dighawapi sacred area, it is worthwhile for historians to study the ancient relationship between the two premises.

Also See

Map of Diga Wewa (Mahakandiya Wewa) Reservoir

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to Diga Wewa (Mahakandiya Wewa) Reservoir

From Ampara to Diga Wewa (Mahakandiya Wewa) Reservoir
Via : Uhana
Distance : 20 km
Travel time: 2-3 hours
Time to spend: Between 60-120 minutes
Directions : View here in Google Maps

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