Kandy Lake is located towards the Eastern part of the Kandy City and the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, built this lake popularly known as 'Nuwara Wewa'. It was known to native people from earlier times as 'Kiri Muhuda' which means Sea of Milk.
The Kandy Lake Round walking path is very popular with visitors and the walking path around the lake perimeter covers a distance of 2.7 Kilometers at present. If one walks along the main roadway walking path, the distance covered will be 3.2 Kilometers. The whole distance can be walked under the shades of large trees , watching many species of birds and creatures that inhabit the lake such as fish,turtles and Asian water monitors. There are great photography opportunities for the keen photographer to frame fascinating landscape scenes across the lake. There is a limited engagement of having a boat ride in the lake that would further enhance the experience of being in touch with the nature's elements.
Many visitors to Kandy, who mostly travel there to worship at the Buddha Temple of the Tooth, value the tranquil atmosphere that the lake greatly contributes. Many will be happy that such a lovely lake had been created despite the sad circumstances surrounding the lake's initial development during King Rajasinghe's reign. Even during a time of a busy environment, one will be pleasantly delighted by what the lake and the surrounding area has to offer to appreciate nature's beauty.
master craftsman Mulacharya Devendra's construction
Lake's Construction, Major Davie and Master Craftsman Devendra Mulacharya
A paddy field amidst a swamp lying on the Southern side of Kings Palace and Temple of the Tooth was converted to a lake by the last King of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe and people called it 'Kiri Muhuda' or the Milky Sea. Major part of the construction work and the finishing was done during the years 1810-1812 according to historical details. The creation of the lake had been the brainchild of Major Davie, an English Army Officer who was taken as a prisoner by the King in 1803. He was instrumental in advising the King on converting the 'Tigol Vela' paddy field into a Lake by damming up Northern and Western sides of the Lake. The Architect to this project was Mulacharya ( Master Craftsman) Devendra who earlier built the Octagon or Pattirippuwa of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple or Dalada Maligawa. Prior to building this lake there was a natural lake called 'Bogambara Wewa' which was at a lower elevation of about 50 feet below the present Kandy Lake's Western end.
A main feature of the Kandy Lake is the continuous walking path created at the very edge of the water mass of the lake. The path at the perimeter of the lake which is 2.72 Kilometers in length and the main road of Talatuoya - Kandy goes along parallel to the path for about three fourth of the length of the lake's perimeter.Along the path there are seating facilities (Tiled concrete seats) placed facing towards the lake so that one can spend time relaxing watching the gentle ripples created in the water due to wind and observing many other nature's gifts one is fortunate to experience at leisure amidst a busy city environment.
A habitat to world's second largest lizard- the water monitor.
A distinctive feature of the Kandy Lake Round a few decades ago was the profusion of giant "Pini Mara" or Rain trees (Samanea saman) all the way around the lake's path. Even though there are fewer Mara trees at present, there are still enough, and other species have mostly taken the place of the fallen Mara trees, which were primarily caused by adverse weather with high winds and heavy rain. Variety of other trees one comes across along the Lake Round path are ‘Sakura’ the Pink Tabebuia (Tabebuia rosea), ‘Mee’ (Medhuca longifolia) and ’Kalu keara’ (Goniothalamus gardneri) which is a species of plant in the Annonaceae family and is endemic to Sri Lanka. Couroupita guianensis, known by a variety of names including Cannonball tree but often misquoted as ‘Sal’ is native to the tropical forests of Central and South America and was introduced to the island by the British around 1881 can also be found. The actual ‘Sal’or ‘Sala’ tree mentioned in Buddhist scriptures is Shorea robusta and is native to the Indian subcontinent, ranging south of the Himalaya, from Myanmar in the east to Nepal, India and Bangladesh. ‘Kumbuk’ tree (Terminalia arjuna) is a tree of the genus Terminalia. It is commonly known as Arjuna tree and grows along water ways in Sri Lanka. ‘Madatiya’ ( Adenanthera pavonina) called as Red Lucky Seed, ‘Siyambala’ or Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) and ‘Amba’ the fruit bearing tropical Mango tree (Mangifera indica) are some more of the trees planted along the Lake round walking path.
Kandy Lake Round Fauna
Kandy Lake and the vicinity is regarded as a protected environment so that fauna in that habitat is not threatened by human activities. The lake has shoals of fish in abundance and many people who come to see the lake feed them with rice pop corn the vendors sell. Lately it had been inhabited with few duck species who add some glamour to the lake's environment. The Lake and the surrounding trees lure the Avians to frequent the habitat so that nearly a hundred different types of birds have been sighted by Bird watching enthusiasts. Among the frequently seen Bird species in Lake Round path, the following are easy to notice.
'Asia Vivara Thuduwa' - Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans), 'Maha Diyakawa' - Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), 'Indu Diyakawa' - Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis), 'Rea Koka' - Black crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), 'Tith Hota Pasthuduwa' -Spot billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), 'Maha Sudu Koka'- Great Egret (Ardea alba), 'Punchi Eli Koka'- Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), 'Laya Sudu Medi Pilihuduwa'- White throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), 'Mana Tudu Medi Pilihuduwa' - Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), Rath Yatimal Kirala'-Red wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) , 'Myna' - Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis),'Alu Kobeyya' - Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) and 'Kondaya' - Red vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer).
There are few fallen trees in the lake and one will not miss the scene of having seeing few Turtles crept on the log for a rest and a sun bath. The most interesting creature one comes across is the 'Kabaragoya' - the Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) who is the Second largest Lizard in the World. They don't attack humans but if provoked it hisses and wag his powerful tail and if get caught on its path, the stroke could be fatal. The adult Water monitor grows up to around 2-2.5 Meters. The World's largest Asian Water Monitor that had been recorded is from the Kandy Lake which measured 3.2 Meters.
The decorative wall of the Kandy Lake - Diyareli Bamma or the Wave Swell wall
The ornate wall constructed on the edge of a section of the lake's perimeter that runs from Ulpange (Queens' Bathing Pavilion) to Bisokotuwa (Water Spill area) of the Kandy Lake had been completed only partially by the time the Kandyan Kingdom was taken over by the British . In 1817, it had been constructed up to present Queens Hotel main entrance according to the landscape painting of Lt.William Lyttleton. The decorative wall is often wrongly identified as 'Walakulu Bamma'(Cloud Drift Wall) but the correct name of it is ' Diyareli Bamma' (Water Swell Wall). Professor Anuradha Seneviratna (1938-2009), a prominent Sri Lankan researcher and expert on Kandyan history, archaeology, and architecture, quotes this in his much praised book titled "Kandy" ( Central Cultural Fund – 1983 ).
“The ornamental wall round the lake was designed to resemble a wave- swell and is therefore called Diyareli bemma as opposed to the Walakulu bemma or cloud-drift found in the Dalada Maligawa parapets.”
This decorative wall primarily acts as a safety measure for anyone watching the lake by putting a barrier between them and the water.
It was deftly constructed so as to simply enhance the attractiveness of this artificial lake.
The famed Kandyan Master craftsman Devendra Mulacharya, who is credited with designing the Pattirippuwa or the Octagon of the Temple of the Tooth, which has comparable wall decorations and was built before the Lake, is regarded to be the originator of this design.
The main water feeding areas for the lake are Dunumadalawa forest and Udawatta Kele forest areas. Due to urbanization and deforestation in the past, the natural stream water ways initiating from the two forest areas are almost trickling and it is the storm water from the Dunumadalawa and Udawatta forest areas that feed the Kandy Lake through out the year now. Since there is adequate rainfall annually to Kandy , the Lake is having sufficient water all through the year.
The water spill of the lake is located at the Western and Southern intersection of the lake's banks. The Biso Kotuwa which is there now had not been there initially and had been constructed lately by the British. Today the water control is being done by two sluice gates which must have been constructed some years back since the water spill area had undergone restructuring when constructing the four level Municipal Car Park and the Kandy City Centre.
Data obtained from Google Earth Pro Satellite Map
Coordinates at main points of the Lake
Sluice Gate corner
Island's Center point
Ulpange* Center point
Queens Hotel Corner point
Length of Diyareli Bamma*- Ulpange side
Length of Diyareli Bamma- Boat House side
Distance from Boat House entrance to Island's Center point
Distance from Stone Deck entrance to Island's Center point
Length 28 Mts x Width 16 Mts.
Lake's water surface area
Perimeter of the Lake
Length of Lake Round Walking Path
Length of Lake Round Path along Main Road
Measurements of the Island in the Lake
Length 32 Mts x Width 16 Mts.
Sailing distance from Boat House to Lake's Eastern end