The Kandy Lake sits at the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country at the very centre of Kandy City. Being built over two centuries ago, the lake continues to be a popular destination among both locals and tourists – a place to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Kandy Lake was originally a stretch of paddy fields and marshland. King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha – Sri Lanka’s last true monarch – ordered the construction of the lake in 1807. During the initial phases of construction, dam was built across the paddy fields. Then atop the damn a walkway was constructed – this was to serve as a secluded area for the King to walk around in as he pondered the country’s politics. Once water was flooded in, a small artificial island was left amidst the lake. The legend goes that this served as the location for the King’s personal harem and was connected to the palace via a secret passageway underneath the lake. Following the British conquest of Kandy, the new colonial overlords would go on to use this secret island as a storage location for weapons and artillery.
The Kandy Lake encompasses an area of over 6500 square miles and has a circumference of around 3.2km. Three main structure are present on the lake, namely the Jayatilleke Mandapaya, Walakulu Bamma and the Ulpange. The Jayatilleke Mandapaya was the King’s aforementioned personal walkway, with the lone island at its other end. The Walakulu Bamma which translated to ‘cloud wall’ is the structure which surrounds the lake. Prior to the wall’s completion, the King was captured by the British and as such, the wall still lies unfinished to this day. If you look closely at these walls, you’ll find a number of triangular shaped holes. It is believed that these were used to light oil lamps in back in the day during celebratory festivals. The Ulpange is thought to have been used by the King’s wives and concubines to bathe in.
If you’re ever in Kandy, the lake is a great place for a calming walk or a quaint picnic session. Here you can breathe in the tranquil atmosphere and gather your thoughts before heading back into the city.