Views Around Parakrama Samudra Reservoir, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.
Reaching Parakrama Samudra
Parakrama Samudra (the Sea of Parakrama) is one of the largest reservoirs in Sri Lanka. It was built by King Parakramabahu the Great, in the 12th century. Reaching this beautiful reservoir is fairly easy. If you travel from Kandy, you have to pass Matale and Dambulla, and come to Habarana. From Habarana junction take the Batticaloa road. This road takes you straight to Polonnaruwa passing the beautiful Minneriya and Giritale reservoirs, and the Minneriya National Park. It takes 4 hours to reach Polonnaruwa from Kandy by public transportation. Due to the good condition of the roads you might be able to come to Polonnaruwa in less time by a private vehicle. Once you are in Polonnaruwa anybody on the road will direct you to Pothgul Mawatha from where you can begin the pleasing walk along the bund of Parakrama Samudra.
Location of Parakrama Samudra
The dam of Parakrama Samudra is 14 kilometres long and 12.2 metres high. The Bund Road you are walking runs over this dam. It holds a body of water that covers 5350 acres of land, while having an average depth of 8 meters. Parakrama Samudra is an ancient irrigation project which still servs its purpose of supporting more than 18,000 acres of paddy land.
Taking a Walk...
The best times to take a walk along the Bund Road of Parakrama Samudra is between 8 O'clock to 10 O'clock in the morning, or 3 O'clock to 5 O'clock in the afternoon.
The breeze that blows over the great expanse of water cools down the heat of the day. Polonnaruwa is usually a bit hot. When you are at Parakrama Samudra, the pleasing views around it make you forget that heat.
When you start walking along the Bund Road towards Kalahagala you can see Parakrama Samudra reservoir to your left, and villages to your right. The reservoir is boardered by surrounding high lands which you can see, covered in green vegetation beyond the horizon of the reservoir. A bit close to the horizon you might see a small canoe or two rowing across the water. Those are the village fishermen out there to catch Thilapia, the abundant kind of lake fish (locally called Korali, or Vav Mälu) which is a popular dish (fried or a hot curry).
Not only the fishermen, the giant cranes, cormorants, and kingfishers too can be seen fishing in Parakrama Samudra. Watching the actions of these birds around the reservoir is great fun, and you won't feel such a long time passed.
An Eyefull of Souvenirs...
When walking further you will meet villagers who travel on trailers fixed to hand-tractors. Hand-tractor is a common family vehicle in an agricultural area like Polonnaruwa. It serves as a multipurpose agricultural machine which provides paddy field support, crop transportation and family transportation.
Along the Bund Road you will pass several spots where you may see people bathing in Parakrama Samudra reservoir. But not all these places are safe for bathing. It is not recommended bathing in the reservoir anyway, especially when you are new to the place. A better and attractive place for bathing here is the D2 Canal. D2 Canal is the Irrigation Department's technical name for this beautifully constructed canal, but it is famous as Dekay Ela (Number-two canal) among the locals.
A Bath And Refreshments...
It is a habit, and regarded as a must-do activity among the Sri Lankan tourists to have a bath at an open water spot (like a canal, reservoir, river, sea beach, a waterfall, or at least a well) wherever they visit. So, if you are out to bathe and have some fun, spend some time at the D2 Canal. I bet you won't be alone there. It's got population all the time.
After having a bath at the D2 Canal, take another couple of hundred yards along the Bund Road. There you will meet a huge banyan tree grown on the right side of the road. People, the visitors to Parakrama Samudra reservoir, use the large space shaded by the banyan tree to park their vehicles. Under the shade there is a small, village snack & tea boutique where I had a Vadai and a tea for refreshment.