Myth of Kallanani by Karikalan
The Grand Anicut, also known as the Kallanai, is an ancient dam in Tamil Nadu state of south India. The Grand Anicut is the most ancient surviving irrigation work in Kaveri river delta. It is attributed to the Chola king Karikalan, and dates back to the 2nd century. It is considered the oldest water-diversion structure in the world still in use.
A poet sings
“Karikaalan kattivaithaan kallanai”
Let us analyze the facts
The sangam literature Pattinappaalai sung by uruthirang kannanar was solely sung in praise of Karikaal chola. It has no mention of Kallanai. We only understand that he strengthened the banks of cauvery.
Thiruttani and Velanjeri Copper Plates
Parantaka's plate is dated 932 A.D. It gives the names of the progenitors of the Chola line beginning with Vishnu, followed by Brahma, Marichi, Kasyapa, Surya and Usinara. Karikala, Sibi and Koccengannan.
Three important events in the life of Karikala are mentioned.
(1) He caused the crest of the Cholas marked on the slopes of Himalayas.
(2) He raised embankments on either side of river Kaveri and controlled its flood
(3) He made Kanchi a city of palaces.
Parantaka Chola's Udayendram plates mention only the name of Karikala without referring to his exploits.
Hence Thiruttani and Velanjeri Copper Plates are perhaps the earliest Chola record to refer to the exploits of Karikala. Even though his conquests and building Kanchi palaces are as debatable let us see only Kallanai now.
The copper plates which mention Karikala as one of the ancestors of Cholas do not mention anything about Kallanai. Usually it is customary to record the grandest achievements of their ancestors (Sibi- sparrow, Manu needhi - chariot etc)
One more inscription throws a different light about uruthirang kannanar A mandapa was donated to kannanar by Karikala . Around 1200 AD Sundara pandiyan ransacked the whole of chola kingdom. He destroyed all forts, palaces etc. but left this one single mandapa untouched! There is a detailed inscription in thiruvellarai - in the form of a Tamil poem – which records this. Though it was a chola who donated the gift, it was a gift for a Tamil poet - uruthirang kannanar - that's all pandiyan considered!
Second if they measured the chola land to device an ulagalanthan KOL, then there must be some mention of water sources and dams. However there is no such evidence.
Karikalan never built Kallanai. Kaverikku iru puramum karai eduppiththaan.That's all. Kallanai was constructed during Nayak period. That was verysmall dam and today what we see is the expansion by British people. Astudent of Jawaharlal Nehru University did a PhD on Kallanai and provedbeyond any doubt that it was built by nayaks and subsequent expansions byBritish people.
If we analyze the date of Karikalan , we can come to a conclusion of around 9th century or later ,And the other Famous chola king Ko Chenkkannan praised in sangam literature built Jambukeshwarar Temple which still stands today is around 10th century AD, But the legend advances the date of sangam literatue to 2nd century AD without any basis.