Kandy lake is in the centre of it all, literally. Whether you are hopping around in a tuk-tuk, heading from one spot to another, checking the views of the city from the viewpoint up on a hill, or simply taking a leisurely evening walk, the lake dominates the town. And why shouldn’t it.
It is in the heart of Kandy town. Surprisingly, with a ring road that goes along one side of the lake, it is peaceful, offering you respite from the busy street.
This body of water wasn’t always there though. It was a stretch of paddy fields known as Tigolwela, with a small pond named Kiri-muhuda or Sea of Milk. Then, in 1807, the last king of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinha had it converted to a lake.
While the name stuck on, the lake has a lot of blood mixed in it too. Turns out that not everyone was happy about working on the lake. To stamp his authority and put an end to these labour problems, the king had them put to death on stakes in the bed of the lake.
While you are busy appreciating the lake, especially in the evenings, you can’t help noticing a small island in the middle of the lake. Apparently, it was used by the king’s harem to have their bath. Adding spice to this story is that it was secretly connected to the palace by a tunnel. Then, when the British came knocking, they used it as their ammunition dump, further fortifying it with a parapet.
Its perfect location, right next to the royal palace complex and several other attractions, make Kandy lake the perfect spot to get your bearings.
For those up to it, you can walk around the lake, all 3 ½ odd kilometres. It should take roughly about an hour, depending on how you pace your walk. Besides stunning views of the waterbody, it also offers botanists and wildlife lovers an opportunity to watch several birds, turtles and bats call the lake home.
Keep an eye out for the Asian water monitor. While I’m not sure how many of them are around, it’s obviously a star attraction as we had a tuk-tuk full of tourists stop by and ask if I had spotted him yet. I did, a few minutes later, soaking in whatever warmth it could get from the setting sun.
Should you feel the need rest for a while, fret not. There are plenty of seats to sit all along the way. Choose your spot and you will be rewarded with the sun setting over the lake and Kandy town, as the avian inhabitants of the lake make a final fly-past over the lake, before heading to their nests to roost for the night. And then the bats awake.