It was in existence during the reign of Pandya King Arikesari
Inscription on a stone removed from the Vaigai river bund has revealed the existence of an ancient irrigation network and river link in Madurai and adjoining areas.
The stone, which is kept in the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple museum, was deciphered by historians S.M. Ratnavel and C. Santhalingam , members of the Pandia Nadu Centre for Historical Research here.
“The inscription which dates back to 690 AD suggests that an irrigation project was in existence during the reign of Pandya King Arikesari. This is probably the first instance of evidence detailing existence of irrigation projects in ancient Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Santhalingam says.
“The inscription details a project where water from a channel dug from the Vaigai joins a jungle stream (Kiruthumal river), and is stored in a reservoir. The inscription specifically mentions the irrigation tanks located in the erstwhile Sanadu and Parithikudinadu villages which received water from the reservoir,” explains engineer S.M. Ratnavel.
“It is interesting to note that the water from the presently dry Vaigai river was enjoyed by villages as far as Kallumadai, Veeracholan and Paruthiyur, which are located in the erstwhile Sanadu and Parithikudinadu villages,” he says.
While a lot is being discussed about the present day link-canals between rivers, this inscription confirms that river linking existed long ago, the historians said.
“The inscription has provided valuable evidence which throws light on the fact that the Vaigai river and the Kiruthumal river were linked in the seventh century for an effective irrigation network,” says Mr. Santhalingam.