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No trip to the hill city of Kandy is complete without spending some time exploring its glorious lake. A sprawling, emerald water body fringed by ancient temples and lush jungle, the idyllic scenery wouldn’t be out of place on a painting or postcard. In fact, it’s so naturally beautiful that you’d never guess it’s man-made. Built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe - the last ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy - the location of the lake was once paddy fields centered around a small pond. A dam was built first, and the old steps that used to lead into the lake by the Temple of the Tooth are still visible today. Another interesting piece of history is the wall, known as Walakulu Bamma, which was left unfinished after Kandy was captured by the British. Although the wall still lies incomplete, it makes an attractive feature.
Kandy Lake is also the subject of much folklore, which only adds to its interest. Legend has it that the central island was where the king's wives and concubines would bathe, and it’s connected to the royal palace by a hidden tunnel. The island was later used by the British to store ammunition and a parapet was built around it.
Kandy Lake is a place where locals and tourists come to enjoy some peace and quiet and escape the bustle of the city. Take a leisurely stroll or refreshing jog around the shady shores, or take a rest on a waterfront bench and soak up the views. Thanks to the lush foliage that surrounds the lake, there’s some wonderful bird life, and you might even spot the odd lizard scuttering through the bushes. You can also hire boats and explore the scenery from the tranquil waters.
One of the most scenic areas to walk along the lake is near the famous Temple of the Tooth. It’s well worth popping inside to explore the shrines and museums, and see the gold casket that is said to hold the tooth of the Buddha. You might get to see some fascinating rituals being performed by Buddhist monks too. On the other side of the lake lies another important Buddhist monastery, the Malwatta temple, and a circular monk’s bathhouse.
Kandy Lake is situated in the heart of Kandy and can be reached on foot, bus or tuk tuk.
Though the lake is beautiful at any time of day, it’s particularly special in at sunset.
If you plan on going for a walk around the perimeter, make sure you wear comfortable shoes, and if you plan on visiting the temples, remember to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and legs.
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