It holds the record of being Asia's highest arch dam with a height of 555 feet. It stands between the mountains of 'kuravanmala' and 'kurathimala'. Historical sources say that Shri Kolumban, the head of 'Araya' race during 1922 showed the way to the spot of the present arch dam to the Malankara Estate Superintendent and his friend Thomas who were on a hunting spree in the forest. Commercial operation of the dam started in 1976.
The idea of a hydroelectric project over the Periyar River occurred to W H John, the then superintendent of Malankara Estate. John, in an article published in Malayala Manorama daily in 1935, detailed the prospects of such a project. Kuravan and Kurathi hills, the core area of the project, were introduced to John by Chemban Kolumban, a member of the local Oorali tribe. Kolumban with his wide knowledge of the forest later became an accomplice of the engineers who came for site inspection. As a token of appreciation for Kolumban’s services, the KSEB later allowed a monthly pension of Rs. 40 to Kolumban. There also stands a memorial to Kolumban on the dam site.