Did you know Kallanai Dam is the Fourth Oldest Dam in the World?

Did you know Kallanai Dam is the Fourth Oldest Dam in the World?

Kallanai Dam

Kallanai Dam – the Fourth Oldest Dam in the World

Water is the elixir of life. 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Between 50 to 65% of the human body is constituted of water.

Given the importance of water in the life of Man, it is no wonder that water has always been revered by Man. Water has been worshipped in many civilizations and rivers have been treated on par with mothers and are known as the cradles of civilization.

But water, though a boon and necessity for life can also unmask its furious side and create havoc and destroy entire civilizations. So Man has endeavored to master the flow of water and literally turn the tide with mixed results. The earliest efforts were more in terms of protecting settlements from the flow of water. However, these slowly evolved into methods for harnessing the flow of water for agriculture and channelizing the water through irrigation. Much later the energy of flowing water was harnessed into hydroelectric power.

This was the beginning of structures that we know as Dams today.

Did you Know?

Kallanai Dam

  • Did you know that a Dam that was constructed in the 2nd Century AD is still functional today?
  • Did you know that this Dam is located in India?
  • Yes, the fourth oldest Dam in the world is located just about 20 kilometers from the city of Tiruchirapalli, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu

Kallanai Dam, the fourth oldest dam in the world is also known as the Grand Anicut. The Dam was built in the 2nd century on the river Kaveri by a King named Karikala of the Chola dynasty.

Kallanai Dam

It is remarkable that the Dam is still in great condition and in fact has served as a model to engineers for future structures. Is it not fascinating to note the engineering genius of the minds of the 2nd century?

The Kallanai dam is 329 meters long, 20 meters wide and 5.4 meters high and is constructed from unhewn stones. The water is channelized through canals to irrigate the delta region through the ancient water network. The initial area that was irrigated by the ancient system of canals was 69,000 acres which were increased to a million by the turn of the 20th century.

Kallanai Dam

Would you like to visit this marvel of engineering that has virtually conquered the strides of time and stands as a silent paean to the genius of the people of an era now obscured in history?

How to get to Kallanai Dam

  • Kallanai Dam is 20 kilometers from Tiruchirapalli
  • Thiruchirapalli situated in the Tamil Nadu is about 332 kilometers from Chennai
  • There is an international airport in Thiruchirapalli with flights from Singapore, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Chennai
  • Tiruchirapalli is also well connected by Rail and Road to major cities of India

Watch this video of Kallanai Dam by klnaraa74 NATURE/ART CHANNEL

In and Around Thiruchirapalli

  • Ranganthswamy Temple
  • Rock Fort
  • Srirangam Island

So when you visit Kallanai Dam and be spellbound by the engineering marvel, you also get to see some other impressive sights in Thiruchirapalli. But the Dam will definitely make you pause and think about the phenomenal achievements of the early Indian people.

The Kallanai Dam is another enduring enigma from the pages of Indian history. If you found this interesting then we recommend you read about the seven wonders of India.

Which is the one ancient man-made structure that has inspired awe in you? Do share your thoughts with us through our comments section. We always look forward to your feedback which is highly valued.


Did you know Kallanai Dam in Tamil Nadu India is the Fourth Oldest Dam in the World?


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21 thoughts on “Did you know Kallanai Dam is the Fourth Oldest Dam in the World?

  1. Kavey Favelle | Kavey Eats Reply

    I had no idea that dams of this scale were being built so many centuries ago, nor that there was one such ancient dam still in working order and use in India! Great to learn about Kallanai dam!

  2. Eric Gamble Reply

    That is totally cool. It also amazes me that humans were so evolved back then to even come up with the technology to develop an elaborate damn system. Was there a reason behind the king creating the Damn?

  3. Priya Vin Reply

    Is it amazing to learning that this Dam was engineered by the 2nd century! Been to Tiruchirapalli and this Dam ages ago, my dad used to work for the Public Works Department nearyby.

  4. mark wyld Reply

    What an amazing engineering feat that this structure is still being used today. I reality I guess the ancient people where able to make many things that we still use today

  5. Anne Slater-Brooks Reply

    There used to be a programme showing in the UK called megastructures and this was the type of thing they featured. I found it totally fascinating just how some of these structures were built and suspect you would love the programme too!

  6. Ligia Reply

    Really interesting information. I learned something new today. I am fascinating trying to understand how ancient cultures are so evolved back then to create megastructures. Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. Anna Johnston Reply

    I would totally love to visit this marvel of engineering, I think dams when they are flowing are breathtaking, and to think just how clever the early Indian people behind the structure of this phenomenal dam were. Incredible really! Modern day builders really should take note, it is rare to find things that will withstand much longer than 80 years now.

  8. Paige Wunder Reply

    How interesting. Dams are things that we all rely on, but that I don’t often think about, so I had no idea that the 4th oldest dam is in India! That’s super cool. It’s amazing the things you can stumble upon when you dig deep. It sounds absolutely massive as well.

  9. Neha Reply

    I must say that I was not aware of this fact. This dam looks quite magnificent and your pictures are giving it an extra edge. Other than being travelers delight, this is a very informative post also. Whenever I am going to visit Tiruchirapalli, I am definitely going to visit Kallanai dam. Thank you for sharing this post.

  10. Chantell Collins Reply

    This article is so educational and incredible to know that a dam from the 2nd century CE is still functional. I love the colored brickwork around the edges and it looks really well maintained. An interesting tourist attraction for sure!

  11. Mel Butler Reply

    What an interesting and informative read, I never knew about this Dam or that it is the 4th largest in the world and that 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water. I also get spellbound by the engineering marvel of these how they are made and control so much water.

  12. Vibeke Reply

    I definitely didn’t know that Kallanai Dam is the fourth oldest dam in the world. It is just incredible that it is still in such great condition. It looks so big as well. I have never thought about how old dams are, definitely didn’t think it will be that old. Would love to visit this when I go to India.

  13. Rhonda Albom Reply

    Ancient architecture will continue to astound and amaze me. How have the stones not yet worn away from water pressure to cause structural damage? And how could they create such technology without any modern electrical or more sophisticated tools? How incredible. I have been dying to visit India for years.

  14. Alouise Reply

    I’d never heard of the Kallanai dam before, but it was quite interesting to learn a bit about it. I had no idea there were dams from the 2nd Century AD (and older apparently) that still function today.

  15. Candy Reply

    I had never heard of the Kallanai dam, but now I’m intrigued. Love all the fascinating facts about this dam. Sometimes I wonder how they built things like this back then without the big construction machines we have today.

  16. Divyakshi Gupta Reply

    While reading your article I got very intrigued when I read Karikala. Then it struck me, the same chola king built the huge majestic Ekambareshwar temple in Kanchi. It is so fascinating to know how kings in yesteryears had the acumen to build such fabulous infrastructure : be it dams, step wells or temples. I was in Trichy in July. Missed seeing this beauty. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Ami Reply

    Must be quite fascinating to see the gushing waters. I haven’t been to this one but I can see how lovely it would be. And the fact that it is so old, makes it even more unique. Do they have any water activities around the dam like Speed boating etc? That would make the visit even more interesting.

  18. Sreeram Reply

    Interesting read. Never thought in my wildest dreams that fourth oldest dam in the world is in India. Have added this to my bucket list.

  19. Suruchi Reply

    Your post has left me completely stunned. I never knew that there was a dam built in the 2nd century and it’s still intact. It is really an engineering marvel. We would love to check this out. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. dawn Reply

    i had never heard of kalami dam, but it looks beautiful. my husband loves visiting historic works of architecture such as this. i can see him really enjoying this a lot.

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