There are a many great engineering structures that stand as a hallmark of civilisations. And to the Tamilian there are many great architectural wonders that are exemplary and still stand to this day. Those structures represent the efforts of the great kings and emperors who ruled this country and parts of the south east Asian countries. Those structures stood as a hub for commerce and well-being. For e.g. The Periya Kovil (Brahadeeshwara Temple) at Thanjavur represents the pride Tamilians can take, for the excellence of the great masterpiece. There are few ancient structures that provided well being, fertility and welfare to the people of the country. Those structures are pretty massive and stable that they stand in excellent repair for thousands of years.

One such construction is the massive Kallanai (The Grand Anicut). It is a massive dam across the river Cauvery built using unhewn stone and stands 329 metres long and 20 metres wide. It was built before 2000 years by the great Chola king Karikala Peruvalathaan (Karikalan), his other name is Thirumavalavan because of the fertility he brought to his kingdom. The name Karikalan for the great king has two legends. The first one being – When Karikalan was the apparent heir to the throne and crowned as prince. Due to some political confusions after the death of his father, Ilamcetcenni, he was ousted and exiled from the country. And later when the ministers chose him to be the king, the persons who opposed him, put him in prison and set it ablaze. Karikalan bravely jumped out of the fire and defeated his enemies and came back to power. When he came out of the prison fire, his legs were charred and hence the name Kari (Charred/Black) Kalan (Leg).

The other legend is that, Karikalan was a gigantic figure, muscular and powerful, that he could fight and kill an elephant. Kari meaning elephant, Kalan – means Yemen, the mythological character who is said to take lives of beings. So Karikalan means Yemen for an elephant. There are legends that say that he used to eat lavish food that he could eat the thigh of a goat in one course of his meal.

The Kallanai is one of the oldest existing water diversion systems for irrigation. The construction of Kallanai made the Cauvery Delta to be the fertile heartland of South India. Kallanai diverts the Cauvery River into six sub rivers that irrigated about 282 sq kms (69000 acres) and now more than 4000 sq kms with some modern additions like the regulators. Some of the pics of Kallanai and a short video at the end

The great view of the Kallanai

Kallanai – View from the front

Another front view of the Kallanai

View during sunset

View of the Kallanai from the South side

Kallanai from the top

The water that makes Thanjavur fertile

The sunset illuminating the Cauvery as if adorned with Gold

Another sunset view from the Kallanai

River Cauvery in all her glory at sunset

Sage Agastyar who is believed to have brought Cauvery to life

Another view of Sage Agastya

Nandi on top of the Kallanai

Golden waters of Cauvery at sunset

Waters that rushes from Kallanai to irrigate Thanjavur

Water let out from Kallanai

Another view of water rushing out of Kallanai

Sathiyaraj, Myself, Pradeep on the walls of Kallanai

Sathiyaraj, Kannadhasan, Pradeep on the walls of Kallanai

Vennar – Kallanai splits up Cauvery which is called Vennar after this point

View of the Kallanai at South West

Kallanai – with the modern regulators

River Cauvery in all her glory to make the land fertile

The great and the magnanimous king – King Karikalan Peruvalathaan

The great and the magnanimous king – King Karikalan Peruvalathaan

Statue of River Cauvery, the river Goddess that makes Thanjavur fertile

River Cauvery in her full force

The massive volume of water from Kallanai

A small video of the Kallanai

Building such a massive construction and embarking on such a great project requires a great vision and Karikala Perivalathaan had such a vision, that gave the name – “The Granary of South India” for Thanjavur. Let us hail the magnanimous King Karikala Cholan for giving us the Kallanai that stands to this day speaking his name and bestowing fertility for a great piece of land.

More to come, until then…