Note on ICID World Heritage Irrigation Structures (WHIS) in India

ICID awards the World Heritage Irrigation Structures (WHIS) awards for Irrigation Structures that are more than 100 years old and are still functioning.It includes both old operational irrigation structures as well as those having archival value. This recognition is on the lines of World Heritage Sites (as recognized by UNESCO). Maximum four awards under the WHIS category are given every year.

The main objectives of recognition as a “World Heritage Irrigation Structures” are:

i. Tracing the history of and understanding the evolution of irrigation in the civilizations across the world.

ii. To select and collect information on historical irrigation structures from around the world, understand their significant achievements and gather knowledge about the unique features that have sustained the project for such a long period; .

iii. To learn the philosophy and wisdom on sustainable irrigation from these structures. a

iv. To protect/preserve these historical irrigation structures

The benefits of recognition as WHIS include:

i. Understanding of the factors that make the heritage structures sustainable and learn lessons therefrom.

ii. Education opportunity for professionals, students and the general public.

On behalf of ICID, INCID every year invites nominations from the major irrigating States in prescribed format and recommends the deserving proposals to ICID, which further evaluates the nomination through a jury of international experts. Upon the selection of the structure as WHIS, ICID may provide small-scale technical guidance to the project authority/ Corporations/ NGO through a team of experts from ICID for its further sustainability, conservation and safety management, as long as possible. More details in this regard can be accessed from

India received the highest number of awards (four) in the years 2020 and 2021. Prior to that, India received 2 WHIS awards in the year 2018.So far India has received 10 awards in the WHIS category. The details of these are given below:


Large Tank (Pedda Cheru), Telangana

  • Built on Manair river in Godavari basin in Kamareddy district of Telangana
  • Built in 1897 during rule of the 6thNizam of Hyderabad State.
  • It has 1.8-km-long tank bund & 145-metre wall & 3 sluices.
  • Provides water for irrigation to over 900 acres in Kamareddy, Sarampally, Narsampally& old Rajampet.

Sadarmatt Anicut, Telangana

  • Sadarmatt barrage, across Godavari in Khanapur of Nirmal district
  • Iconic structure installed by the then Hyderabad ruler in 1891-92.
  • It is 437.4 m long on its left flank & 23.8 m on its right flank.
  • Designed by a French Engineer, JJ Ottley.
  • Provides water for paddy crops in its designed ayacut of 13100 acres in present day Khanapur&KademMandals.


Dhamapur Lake, Maharashtra

  • About 500 year old structure, constructed in 1530.
  • Located in Konkan region of Sindhudurg District, on a stream in Karli river basin
  • Built by villagers of Dhamapur and Kalse, entirely by local fund.
  • Dhamapur Lake submerges about 61.44 Ha.
  • Irrigates an area of 237 Ha every year
  • Length of earthen dam - 271 m.
  • Main source of drinking water & irrigation for Dhamapur &Kalse Villages

Cumbum Tank, Andhra Pradesh

  • Constructed across Gundlakamma and Jampaleru rivers, Near Cumbum (V), Cumbum mandal of Prakasam district.
  • Located in Manneru river basin
  • Commissioning: 1522 -1524 AD
  • Third largest pond in the world; the second largest in Asia & the first in India.
  • About 7 km long & 3.5 km wide.
  • Catchment area -1113 sq. km

Kurnool-Cuddapah Canal (KC Canal), Andhra Pradesh

  • KC canal system - first ever man-made trans-basin conveyance schemes in India
  • Commissioned in 1863 & completed in 1871.
  • Located in Tungabhadra river sub-basin in Krishna basin
  • 2.6 lakh acres of irrigated area
  • Major source of irrigation canal in drought prone Rayalaseema region
  • Initially designed for Navigation purpose; navigation abandoned in 1933.
  • KC Canal interconnects rivers Pennar and Tungabhadra. First ever inter-linking of rivers of 2 basins in India.

Porumamilla Tank (Anantharaja Sagaram), Andhra Pradesh

  • Located 3.2 km to east of Porumamilla village in Rajampeta Revenue Division of YSR Kadapa district, in Maldevi river sub-basin of Pennar basin
  • Rajampeta Revenue Division of YSR Kadapa district, in Maldevi river sub-basin of Pennar basin
  • Work commenced in 1367, Commissioned in October 1369.
  • Command area - 3864.67 acres
  • Tank is elongated in shape, being 11.26 km long and 4 km wide.
  • Bund consists of four natural hills, connected by 3 short earthern dams, rivetted with Cuddapa Slabs.


Dhukwan Weir, Uttar Pradesh

  • Constructed across Betwa river in Jhansi district (UP) during 1905-1909
  • Commissioned in 1909
  • Supports agricultural & economic development in Bundelkhand region
  • Supplements Parichha Weir
  • District Benefitted: Jhansi (UP), Datia&Bhind (M.P.)
  • Catchment area - 21341.60 Sq km
  • Original Storage of 3759 Mcft (presently 2206 Mcft)
  • Water supply for 24 MW Dhukwan Small H.P.
  • Irrigation for Rabi & Kharif crop
  • Rabi irrigated area increased from 62,000 acres in 1899-1900 to 6,01,927 acres (2,45,984 ha) presently

Grand Anicut, Tamil Nadu

  • Located in Cauvery Basin/Cauvery Sub Basin at River Cauvery, Trichy district
  • Commissioned in 2nd century (survived 2000 years)
  • Also called Kallanai Dam
  • 300 m long, 20 m wide, and 4.5 m high
  • Irrigates 13 lakh acres in Tiruchirapalli district (Trichy)
  • Diverts water from Cauvery River to fertile delta region for irrigation via canals.

Veeranam Lake, Tamil Nadu

  • Located in Coleroon Basin and Sub-Basin
  • Commissioned in 9th Century.
  • Supplying roughly 50 - 180 million liters of water to the Chennai city every day
  • Capacity of Veeranam tank - 1465 mcft
  • Irrigating an ayacut of 44,856 acres in 102 Villages in Chidambaram, Bhuvanagiri&Kattumannarkoil taluks of Cuddalore District

Kaligarayan Anicut & Channel System, Tamil Nadu

  • Located in Cauvery Basin / Bhavani sub Basin at 92 km from Bhawanisagar dam
  • Commissioned in 1285 AD (735 years ago)
  • Kalingarayan channel head sluice has maximum discharging capacity of 584 cusecs
  • Kalingarayan channel runs for 91 km
  • Irrigates about 15743 Acres of land in Erode, Modakkuruchi and Kodumudi Taluks of Erode District

Recently in June 2022

INCID has submitted the following 4 irrigation structures for consideration under the 2022 edition of the WHIS awards

Name of the Structure About the Structure
Baitarani Irrigation Project, Odisha Construction taken up in 1871, Construction completed in 1878, in service for more than 144 years. · District : Jajpur/Bhadrak · Area Irrigated/ drained: 32752.63 Ha. · River basin/ Sub-basin: Baitarani Basin · Consists of 1 diversion structure (Akhuapada Anicut & Budha Anicut) having total length 463.93m.
Lower Coleroon Anicut (Lower Anicut), Tamil Nadu Commissioned in 1836 · Constructed by Sir Arthur Cotton · Area Irrigated/ drained: 1,31,903 Acres of lands in Thanjavur, Nagapattinam andCuddalore districts. · Located in the Cauvery Basin & Lower Coleroon Sub basin · District : Thanjavur (Part),Ariyalur (Part) · North Branch length – 372 m and Right Branch length – 493 m
Rushikulya Irrigation System, Odisha Integrated project constructed during 1891 by the British Empires to mitigate droughtproblem of Ganjam District. · The structures lie in the Rushikulya Basin -Badanadi and Padma Sub-Basins · Rushikulya System consists of 2 medium size reservoirs and 4 numbers of Anicut, as under: i. Bhanjanagar reservoir across BarangaNalla, a tributary of Badanadi near Bhanjanagar ii. Sorada reservoir on a small Nalla nearSorada iii. Sorisamuli Anicut across river Badanadi, a tributary of Rushikulya at Sorisamulito divert water of Badanadi to Bhanjanagar Reservoir iv. Padma Anicut across river Padma, a tributary of Rushikulya at Sorada todivert water of Padma to Sorada reservoir v. Madhabarida Anicut across river Badanadi near Madhabarida to divert Badanadi water to Janivilli Anicut. vi. Janivilli Anicut at Janivilli across river Rushikulya diverting water for providing irrigation through RushikulyaMain Canal.
Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage (Dowleshwaram Anicut), Andhra Pradesh Started: 1847, Commissioned: 1852 · Area Irrigated/ drained: 10,09,009 Ac (408331 ha) in East and West Godavari Districts · Lies in Godavari river at Dowleswaram, A.P. · Location: Between Dowleswaram(V),Rajahmundry Rural(M),EastGodavari District andVijjeswaram (V),Nidadavolu (M),West Godavari District. · Gross storage: 2.931 TMC · Population benefitted: 36 Mandals in East GodavariDistrict and 29 Mandals in WestGodavari District.