Ruins of Sukara Nijjara Gal Amuna over Deduru Oya (දැදුරු ඔයේ සූකර නිජ්ජර ගල් අමුණ නටබුණ්)

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Stone weirs across major rivers were a primary tool of the ancient kings to divert water to irrigation tanks and as well as man-made canals to paddy fields far away. Therefore along with the technical developments of the irrigation tanks, the weirs (locally known as Amuna) and canal technology were developed. The weirs (dams), canals and irrigation reservoirs enabled our ancient kings to create vast and complex irrigation networks across dry zones using the natural rivers of the region.

Today Deduru Oya is considered the border which separates the dry zone from the wet zone on the northern border. The river starting from the mountains in Matale falls to the sea from Chillaw travelling 142 kilometres across the Kurunegala and Puttalam districts. The primary tributaries of this river are Kimbulwana Oya, Hakwatuna Oya, Kospothu Oya, Maguru Oya and Kolamunu Oya.

Deduru Oya was known as Jajjara Nadee (ජජ්ජර නදී) during ancient times.  According the the Minor Chronicle of Sri Lanka (Chulavamsa) before being consecrated as the king, Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186) built 3 Amunas on this river at three places. These are;

  1. Kottabaddha Amuna (කොට්ඨබද්ධ අමුණ)
  2. Sukara Nijjara Amuna (සූකර නිජ්ජර අමුණ)
  3. Doradaththika Amuna (දෝරදත්තික අමුණ)

He had also built a 4th amuna called Jajjara Nijjara (ජජ්ජර නිජ්ජර) after he was consecrated.

Kottabaddha Amuna presumably lay in the Nikaweratiya area and provided important clues on the building of wooden weirs in ancient Sri Lanka.  According to Prof. C.R. Withanachchi, this Amuna has been constructed at the location 7.71017222, 80.02055556. However, no remains of this Amuna exist thus the location is subject to debate. It is said that the ancient engineers had warned of the instability of the location of a dam to the king Parakramabahu but he was determined to build it here. As predicted, maintenance of the Amuna has been far more difficult and has been destroyed after some time.

Doradaththika Amuna lies across Pahala Yaya on the right bank and Walpaluwa on the left bank. According to Chulawamsa, this amuna has been built to cultivate the land between the Kottabaddha Amuna and the Sukaranijjara Amuna. Jajjara Nijjara Amuna is believed to be the place known as Raja Bamma today. This lies in the Bambarayaya Janawasama Estate in Wellawa town.

Ruins of the Sukara Nijjara Amuna lie about 1 km downstream from the bridge over Deduru Oya on the Padeniya – Anuradhapura road in the area surrounding Ebawalapitiya Viharaya. Remains of an ancient stone bridge can be found another kilometre down the river. According to Dr Withanachchi, the ruins of the Sukara Nijjara Amuna are today commonly known as Ridi Bendi Ella ruins.

According to Henry Parker who describes the status of this amuna in 1889 in his archaeological report on Deduru Oya Valley, this has been a magnificent piece of construction of ancient Sri Lanka. The amuna is 360 feet (85.3 m) long and 40 feet wide. 135 length of the dam at the centre has been washed away. The blocks of rocks at the top, as well as the bottom, have been finely cut and bonded with a lime-based cement. The joints are rarely wider than 1 ¼ inches. The rocks facing the water have been carefully and expertly interlocked with each other.

This amuna was built to carry water to the Magalla Wewa (reservoir) built by King Mahasen (276-303).  Due to the natural contours of the area, it has not been possible to construct a canal at the Amuna. When the water level of the river rises due to the Amuna, it is diverted to a natural canal 180 meters above the Amuna. Then 856 meters down the canal, a new canal was constructed using the natural slope to carry water to Magalla Wewa.

References

  • Brohier, R., 1980. Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon (1934). Colombo: Ministry of Mahaweli Development , part III:pp.23.
  • මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජුගේ වාරි කර්මාන්ත : ශාස්ත්‍රපති සමන්තිලක විජේවර්ධන
    දිවයින පෙබරවාරි 22, 2012
  • Ancient Irrigation System of Dry and Intermediate Zones as Revealed from Ancient Canals – Prof. C.R. Withanachchi
  • ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ පැරණි ජල කළමණාකරණය මගින් වර්තමානයට ලබාගත හැකි ආදර්ශය – මහාචාර්‍ය්‍ය චන්දන රෝහණ විතානාච්චි
  • වාරි කර්මාන්තයේ මහා පරාක්‍රමබාහු ලකුණ : සී. ඩබ්ලිව්. නිකොලස්
  • පොළොන්තලාව, පුරාණ කොට්ඨබද්ධ අමුණ පිළිබඳ විමර්ශනයක් -මහාචාර්‍ය්‍ය චන්දන රෝහණ විතානාච්චි
  • දැදුරු ඔය රිදීබැඳි ඇල්ල පුරාණ අමුණ කැණීමෙන් අනාවරණය වූ පුරාණ අමුණු තාක්ෂණයේ නවතම පැතිකඩ -මහාචාර්‍ය්‍ය චන්දන රෝහණ විතානාච්චි
  • Brohier, R., 1980. Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon (1934). Colombo: Ministry of Mahaweli Development , part III:pp.23.

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Route from Kekirawa to Ruins of Sukara Nijjara Gal Amuna over Deduru Oya
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