The Senanayaka Samudraya the largest body of water ever created in Sri Lanka is a pleasing sight at sunset and displays its inhabitant in their best colors with birds of vivid varieties flying home and elephants gathering to the banks for a late dip in its waters.
Cradled between Siyabalanduwa and Ampara this giant reservoir is bordered by the rising mountains of Inginiyagala creating a sight that it majestic and breathtaking.
A development of the Gal Oya Project, the reservoir that irrigates the dry lands of the east of Sri Lanka, remains a glorious testament to the most ambitious irrigation development project undertaken immediately after of the Independence.
Today nearly sixty years after its construction the Senanayaka Samudraya provides relief to man, birds and beast in the area with providing water, habitat and livelihood. Nearly 70,000 families in the East depends on the reservoir for water for their agricultural purposes while nearly 200 elephants roam the Gal Oya sanctuary the catchment area of the reservoir. The islets within the reservoir are popular nesting grounds with many varieties of local and migrant birds and are best viewed by a boat ride in the reservoir.
A journey on water towards the Gal Oya reserve falls across the Makara Kata or Makaraya, Dragon mouth in Sinhala. A whirlpool created by water flowing into a natural tunnel, Where Gal Oya falls to the reservoir. The boat safaris during the dry season also bring the unusual sight of elephants swimming from one island to another island in the reservoir in search of food.
The 7700 hectare large Senanayaka Samudraya was built by damming the River Gal Oya at Inginiyagala under the Galoya Multi-Purpose scheme in 1949.
The Gal Oya multipurpose scheme colonized unoccupied areas in the Eastern province with nearly 250,000 people resettled to pursue means of agriculture. Most of the settlers were from the area surrounding Gal Oya and priority was given to those villagers from the Gal Oya valley that lost their homes and farmlands to the reservoir. The Gal Oya Project, that irrigates the dry lands of the east of Sri Lanka, remains a glorious testament to the most ambitious irrigation development project immediately aftermath of the independence.
The completed project resulted in opening up 40,000 hectares of land to the cultivation of paddy, sugarcane, chilies, potatoes, and other crops throughout the eastern province. The reservoir also generates one MW of electricity, Controls flood in Galoya plain and is a source of freshwater aquaculture, gaining a name as a multitasking giant.