About Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake is an artificial lake built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807. The lake, also called Kiri Muhuda or Sea of the Milk, is situated in the heart of the Kandy city. It covers an area of 6,544 sq. m. with a circumference of 3.21 km. The lake boasts of a small island at its center. A building, together with some earliest ruins is also located at the center of the lake.
The iconic serene lake is one of the greatest attractions for visitors for its lush green settings and pristine blue waters. It has several rest zones, where tourists can sit, breathe fresh air, and catch the glimpse of scenic beauty around them. Nature lovers and tourists can enjoy the picturesque surroundings and soothe their jittery nerves by taking a stroll around the 2.1 km pathway.
People generally stroll or jog the pathway in the evening, when the mercury drops considerably. It presents a beautiful sight at night. The palm trees in the middle of the lake add charm to the entire surroundings. Tourists can opt for boat rides and relish the experience.
One can hire the boat either for their party or join other passengers for a ride. The boat ride costs approximately Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 for a 20-minute boating experience around the Lake. Visitors can look forward to gratifying their senses, by buying products ranging from balloons to cashew nuts from vendors roaming around the lake.
Owing to the pollution and other factors, which led to shrinkage of the lake, the management has declared it as a protected area and banned fishing at this spot. However, animal lovers and ornithologists can revel in watching birds, fishes, and huge monitor lizards.
How to Reach Kandy Lake
There is no airport in Kandy city. The closest airport to Kandy Lake is the Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), in Colombo. The distance from Kandy Lake to Bandaranaike International Airport is 52.2 miles or 84 km.
Visitors can reach Kandy Lake from CMB Airport via train, bus or taxi.
One can board a train at Colombo Railway station to get to Kandy Railway Station. It is one of the inexpensive and safest modes of transport in Sri Lanka.
The cheapest type of travel from Bandaranaike International Airport to Kandy Lake is the public bus transport. The 3.5 hr ride costs around 170 LKR (Rs. 66.58) per person.
Though expensive, the hired taxis or air-conditioned tourist cars provide visitors a comfortable and fastest ride to Kandy Lake from CMB Airport.
Best Time to Visit Kandy Lake
The most suitable time to visit Kandy Lake is in the winter season from December to April. The weather during winters here will be dry and pleasant. It will be perfect for sightseeing and trekking.
Kandy experiences 2 monsoons, Yala and Maha, between May to July and from October to November respectively. The climate during these seasons remains fickle and humid. Though it remains unsuitable for visiting many of the places, one advantage of this season is the absence of crowds.
The April month in Sri Lanka witnesses’ huge crowds as Sinhalese New Year falls in the middle of the April month.
What Not to Miss at Kandy Lake
Some places to visit near Kandy Lake are:
1. National Museum of Kandy (1.6 km): The National Museum of Kandy is housed in the Royal Palace of Kandy built by King Wickrama Rajasinghe. The palace also known as “Palle Vahala” was used by King’s harem as living quarters.
Later the building was used to deposit historical artifacts made by Kandy Art association and craftsmen of Matale. The Museum opened to the public in 1942, is a repository of 5000 works of arts including jewelry, weapons, tools, etc.
2. International Buddhist Museum (1.7 km): International Buddhist Museum is situated adjacent to the National Museum of Kandy and close to the Temple of the tooth relic in the Royal Palace Complex.
It is a repertoire of knowledge and wisdom and showcases the propagation of Buddhism in the Asian region. Each individual room in the museum via, photographs, models, and statues charts the spread of Buddhism in different countries.
3. Udawatta Kele Sanctuary (2.2 km): Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is situated on the hill-ridge, at the rear the Temple of the Tooth relic. The forest spread over 257 acres, comprises of 58 aboriginal tree species, 61 native shrubs, 31 indigenous herbs, 57 species of original lianas, creepers and vines. Some of the common trees found in this dense forest include Indian Aspen, Red Sandalwood, the Ceylon breadfruit, white fig, droopy leaf or priyangu, Candlenut tree, Salamander tree, etc.
It acts as a catchment area and main water source to Kandy city and Kandy Lake. Visitors can not only get to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature but also watch 80 species of birds, various nocturnal mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of insects.
4. Temple of the Tooth Relic(2.5 km): The temple of tooth relic was built by king Vira Narendra Sinha inside the Royal Palace Complex. The octagonal pavilion and moat were later added to the structure by Wickrama Rajasinghe. Legend has it that whoever possesses the Buddha’s tooth relic, that person will govern the country.
The temple with its rich ornate carvings and beautiful Buddha murals is a sight to behold. The tooth relic is preserved inside six concentric dagoba caskets of diminishing radii and located in a gold casket shaped like a stupa or dagoba.
Visitors can enter the heavily fortified room “Handun Kunama” during puja, which houses tooth relic but is not open for the public display. The golden canopy above the main shrine and the golden fence around the shrine were built by Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1987.
5. Royal Botanical Gardens: Royal Botanical Gardens is situated at a distance of 5 km to the west Kandy city in the Peradeniya suburb in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The garden, which was commissioned by Alexender Moon in 1821, came into existence in 1843 with plants imported from Kew Garden in London, Slave Island, Colombo, and Kalutara Garden in Kalutara.
The Garden houses 4000 species of flora including condiments, orchids, medicinal plants, and coniferous trees. Some of the historical trees planted by prominent personalities include Ceylon Ironwood tree by Nicholas II in 1894, Cannonball tree by King George and Queen Mary in 1901, an Amherstia plant by Belgium’s prince Albert, a camphor tree plant by first Women Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandarunaike in 1972, a trumpet tree planted by Crown prince Akihito of Japan in 1981, etc.
6. Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue: A giant Buddha Statue is situated alongside the Sri Maha Bodhi temple on the top of the Bahirava Konda hill. The gigantic 88 ft (26.83 m) Buddha Statue is carved in Dhyana Mudra (Nirvana pose). The superbly crafted white statue can be viewed from every nook and corner in Kandy.
One can reach the top of the hill either by climbing the steps or engaging a tuk-tuk. The spectacular view of the entire Kandy city from the top of the hill takes the breath away from the user. The beauty of the statue grows multifold under sublime lighting in the night. Visitors should remove shoes/chappals and hats before entering the temple premises.
7. Kandy to Ella Train Ride: The Kandy to Ella ride is hailed as one of the most beautiful and enjoyable train journeys in the world. Visitors are treated to visual delights never experienced throughout this 6-hour journey. The whole journey dotted with stunning lush green tea plantations, rolling mountains, streaming white waterfalls, silver clouds, and swirling mist present an eye-popping experience.
Other Essential Information About Kandy Lake
Location: Kandy City, Sri Lanka
Entry fee: Free. There are no entry fees for Kandy Lake.
Timings: Monday- Sunday between 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
History of Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake was built by then King Raja Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807, adjacent to the Temple of the Tooth. It is situated in the middle of the hill city, Kandy, Sri Lanka.It was said that local tribes and chieftains opposed the King to the use of their people as laborers in constructing the lake.
The King had oppressed the uprising by putting the protesters to death on stakes in the lake. The lake, which extends over 6,544 sq. m with a circumference of 3.21 km, developed under the supervision of Deveda Moolacharya.
A 633.82 meters wall called ‘Walakulu Bamma’ or Cloud’s wall, built around the lake by King Wickrama Rajasinghe, enhances the beauty of the lake. The wall, which extends to approximately half of the lake, still stands unfinished to this day. A building along with a few very old ruins, is located at the center of the island.
Story doing rounds is that the building on the island, located in the middle of the lake, was used by the then king and his harem for bathing and relaxation. Locals believe that the island is connected to the palace by an underground tunnel.
The island was later used by the British, after annexation, as an ammunition store. A fortress-style parapet was constructed around the island by the British. The Queen’s bathing pavilion was later used by the British as a library.
Travel Tips for visiting Kandy:
1. Kandy is considered a religious and culturally conscious city. So, visitors are advised to wear conservative yet casual dresses.
2. Tourists should always carry sunglasses and sunscreen lotions, as Sun can be severe during the day.
3. Traffic can be chaotic and scary. Tourists are requested to plan their itinerary accordingly. Even a distance of 5 km can take more than 30 minutes at peak hours.
4. Foods are spicy in general in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Visitors are advised to enquire and ensure the contents before ordering.
5. Guests are advised to carry bottled mineral water and stay hydrated during their stay in Sri Lanka.
6. They are suggested not to use public restrooms because of unhygienic conditions. Hotels have good washrooms and their service can be utilized by visitors in case of emergency.
7. Visitors should not leave their expensive belongings like camera, handbag, etc, unattended.
8. The weather near the Kandy Lake tends to be slightly cooler than the inland. Long-sleeved clothing is advisable for guests visiting the Lake.
9. Visitors should bear in mind that the surroundings and the Lake are notified as ‘protected’. Any act of polluting it will attract punitive actions.
10. Visitors are notified to desist causing any ruckus near the Lake, as it may disturb the prayers offered at the adjacent Temple of the sacred tooth relic.