Pavatkulama (Pavakkulama) Reservoir in Vavuniya (වව්නියාවේ පාවක්කුලම වැව)

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Pavatkulama Reservoir is the largest ancient reservoir found in the whole of Vavuniya district. According to a notice board installed by the Irrigation Department, Its embankment is 10,364 feet (3.2 km) long and has a gross capacity of 27,000 acre feet (33 million cubic meters).

Lewis quotes Henry Parker on this reservoir in the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society – Volume XIII  (1893-1894) ;

Another tank of Sinhalese construction, which probably dates from pre-Christian times, is Pavatkulam, which was the most important reservoir in the Wanni : —

The bricks employed at two of the sluices are of a much older type than those of the Padawiya sluice, which was built at the end of the third century a.d. Unfortunately there are no inscriptions in the immediate neighbourhood, nor is there any local tradition regarding the originator of the work ; this is doubtless due to the occupancy of the place by the Tamils after they seized upon the district. If Sinhalese had always lived at it, the ancient Sinhalese name of the tank might have been preserved. This reservoir is such an important one that it is almost certain to be mentioned in the old historical works, if we only knew what name it bore. ……………..

……. In the bunds are found the remains of ancient stone sluices, which were usually provided with a bisokotuwa, or valve-pit, built of ” long slabs of stone of considerable breadth and small thickness, laid on edge and fitted together with great care.” Behind the stonework is a backing of brickwork.  

There are five of these sluices with bisokotuwas still to be seen at Pavatkulam, and Mr. Parker says, ” so far as I am aware this is the only tank in the Island with more than four.”

Pavatkulama Wewa reservoir is two adjoining smaller reservoirs connected similar to the Kala Wewa which is in fact are ancient Kala Wewa and Balalu Wewa.  The current Pavatkulama is the result of the combination of the ancient Pavatkulama Wewa and the Olukkulama (sin. Olu Kulama) wewa in 1958.

Unfortunately, the ancient Bisokotuwa of the reservoir is forgotten today except for the ancient stone carving of a five-hooded cobra, the protector of the water resources.


  • Lewis, J.P. (1895) ‘Archaeology of the Wanni’, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, XIII (1893-1894), pp. 151–178.

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Map of  the Pavatkulama (Pavakkulama) Reservoir in Vavuniya

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Traveling to Pavatkulama (Pavakkulama) Reservoir in Vavuniya

Route from Medawachchiya to Pavatkulama (Pavakkulama) Reservoir in Vavuniya
Through : Vavuniya Road
Distance : 30 km
Time to spend : 30 mins
Travel time : 40 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map


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