Nuwara Wewa of the Ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom (අනුරාධපුර රාජධානියේ නුවර වැව)

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Nuwara Wewa is the largest of the three man-made reservoirs in Anuradhapura The other two are Basawakkulama ( Abaya Wewa) and the Tissa Wewa. Nuwara Wewa is believed to have been built by King Vattagamini Abaya popularly known as King Valagamba in the first century BCE.

According to H. Parker in Ancient Ceylon (1909), based on the size of bricks used which is similar to bricks in Abayagiriya Stupa, the tank was built in the first 20 years of the 1st century BCE. Based on the bricks again, he believes that repairs were made to the tank in the 3rd Century and again in the 5th Century

The Embankment (Bund) is 3 miles long and 37 feet high. The water height is about 23 feet the tank covers 3180 hectares and contains about 1500 million cubic feet of water. There has been a dam built across Malwathu Oya to divert water to the Nuwara Wewa. The Dam has been 33 feet wide, 160 feet long and 8 feet high and built with large solid rocks. In 1873 nearly all these rocks were removed to be used to erect a road bridge across the river.

From the Dam, a 40 feet wide channel has been cut to bring the water to the Nuwara Wewa. The water depth of the canal is about 4 feet and at about 150 feet from the Dam, a flood escape was found to divert the excess water back to the river.

Plan and Section of Nuwara Wewa low level and high level slices
Plan and Section of Nuwara Wewa low-level and high-level slices
Source : H. Parker – Ancient Ceylon (1909)
Primary Sources :

Also See

Map of  the Nuwara Wewa

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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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Traveling to Nuwara Wewa

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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