Maduru Oya Ancient Sluice (මාදුරු ඔය ඉපැරණි සොරොව්ව)

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Sri Lanka is well known for its ancient hydraulic civilization and major irrigation works constructed since the 3rd  century AD. Some of these structures are often quoted as technically parallel to modern engineering designs and constructions. The ancient Maduru Oya sluiceway is one such structure.

When Canadian engineers were working on the new reservoir and excavating to assess the sluice location point the ancient sluice appeared. The officers of the Archaeological Department have unearthed it completely and restored it.

Comparing with the remains of ancient sluices in Sri Lanka. the Maduru Oya ancient sluice possesses some salient features. One such feature is its twin inlet conduits, dressed with stone slabs enclosed in a massive corbelled arch shaped brickwork. Covering stone slabs with brickwork is a common construction pattern in ancient sluices, but this corbelled arch shaped brick enclosure is only limited to Maduru Oya sluice.

The central pit which lies 34.77 meters from the entrance forms special interest as its right wall has a peculiar terracotta design of a drummer and four female dances in low relief. Such a feature has not been located from any other sluice in Sri Lanka.

The Maduru Oya Sluice made up of stone slabs and bricks, is about 30 feet (9.1 m) high, 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 219 feet (67 m) long. Professor Senarath Paranawithana believes that this sluiceway was built by King Kutakanna Tissa (42-20 BC).  Carbon dating carried out in the USA has also placed the period to the 1st century BC.  However, the popular local belief is that the original dam here was built before the arrival of Vijaya by the Yaksha Tribes around the 6th century BCE.


Access to the Maduru Oya Dam is restricted to the general public due to security reasons. Since the ancient sluice lies close to the dam access to this too is restricted. You need to obtain permission from the Mahaweli Authority prior hand which you need to present to the Army checkpoint.


  1. Wikramagamage, C., (2004). Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp 256-257.

Also See

Map of Maduru Oya Ancient Sluice

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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

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Travel Directions to Maduru Oya Ancient Sluice

Route from Colombo to Maduru Oya Ancient Sluice
Through : Kandy – Mahiyangana
Distance :  260 km
Travel time : 36 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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