All about Kallanai Dam

Kallanai is an ancient dam built across the river Kaveri in South India. This is situated in Tamil Nadu in the district of Trichy. This dam was constructed in AD 2nd century by the Chola king Karikalan which is located 15 km away from Tiruchirapalli. The dam is originally located in Thanjavur district, by approximately 20 km from Trichy across Kaveri river. Kallanai Dam is the fourth older water rerouting system in the world which is still in existence.


Kallanai (is also known as Grand Anicut) is an incisive water flow system built by Karikala Cholan by his great engineering expertise. The main aim behind building a dam was to encourage irrigation. This was also constructed as a barrier across the river Kaveri, by means of protecting his kingdom from flooding. The dam was originally constructed by about 2000 years ago. Later on the 19th century, the British Captain Caldwell re-modeled the dam to cater irrigation needs.

About the Dam

It was an insightful construction to divert the river Kaveri to the delta districts to uplift irrigation thereby avoiding disaster of corps due to floods. The dam has a strong foundation as well as a solid design. Due to its stunning engineering, the dam is still an inspiration to most of the modern dams and Kallanai dam is still used for various irrigation needs in Tamil Nadu. Because of its spectacular architecture, it’s one of the prime tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.

The typical anatomy of Kallanai dam include the big stones sunk in the Kaveri river to reroute the water flow to the delta region. The British military engineer, Captain Caldwell was appointed in 1804 to study and promote irrigation to deltas. During the research he observed that majority of water is flowing to Kollidam and only a slight volume of water is left at Kallanai dam for irrigation at delta areas. Later as per the advice of Captain Caldwell, the capacity of the Kallanai dam was raised by height.

Kaveri River forms as a boarder to the Salem and Erode districts. In the township of Bhavani, the Bhavani River also connects to Kaveri River and the famous pilgrimage destination the Sangameswarar Temple is also situated in the junction of these two rivers.

The dam locality is related with the history of Tamil Nadu because of the Kallanai’s Engineering Marvel and it makes the visitors to read more about the Tamil literature, language and about the Sangam period. The tourists can experience a fresh bath on the river (if the water levels are not high) and can taste the fishes on the small shops on the pocket roads. The 2000-year-old dam leaves spectacular treat and the area is preserved with a park and the drive-in facilities so that the people use it as a picnic spot. Fresh fish sold by local fishermen at lowest prices in an overriding attraction to the tourists. The Kallanai dam is truly what something to be experienced before one leaves the earth!

How to reach Kallanai dam?

The nearest airport is the Tiruchirapalli airport which is 15 kms away from the dam site and the nearest railway station to Kallanai dam is Lalgudi railway station which is 4 kms long. A cab ride can then get you to Kallanai dam, the city also offers accommodation ranging from budget to star hotels to suit all pockets. The famous Sangam Hotels is one among such which will make your visit even more memorable!

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