Minneriya is a small town in Sri Lanka that is famous for two things, the great Minneriya lake built by King Mahasen and Minneriya National Park which is a hot spot for safari lovers because of its abundance of elephants.
Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. The park earned revenue of Rs. 10.7 millions in the six months ending in August 2009. Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Sri Lanka. The park is situated 182 kilometres (113 mi) from Colombo.
Minneriya tank is a reservoir in Sri Lanka made by an old civilisation; the Anuradhapura Kingdom. King Mahasena ordered a dam build across the Minneriya River, which made the lake. The tank covered 4,670 acres (18.9 km2).
The Minneriya Tank was built by the great tank builder, King Mahasen (276–303) who ruled in Anuradhapura. This tank occupied 4670 acres and its strong 13-meter-tall dam running along a distance of 2 km held over 20 billion gallons of water. The water arrived from Amban River,a main tribunary of Mahaveli River, 48 km away, along the Elahara canal built by the King Vasabha (65–109) before his time.
This, along with other reservoirs created an irrigation paradise in the east. It was this growth in agriculture that opened up the massive trade with South East Asia through the Trincomalee harbour. From then onwards, Trincomalee harbour became one of the busiest in the region.
In 1820 AD, British Inland Revenue Officer Ralf Bachaus recorded that the whole area can be irrigated if this reservoir is restored. In 1856, British Governor Henry Ward recorded that it must have been an amazing reservoir which had been built very strong. They recorded the beauty of the vegetation, the wildlife which surrounded the reservoir.