Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Kandy Lake is an iconic landmark located in the heart of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Known for its scenic beauty and cultural importance, the lake attracts tourists and locals alike. This travel guide aims to provide all the necessary information on the lake, covering its history, features, and things to do.


Kandy Lake serves as a significant attraction in the central part of Sri Lanka. It spans approximately 6,544 meters and offers a serene setting surrounded by hills. Visitors often enjoy walks around the lake, boat rides, and taking in the views of the Temple of the Tooth. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or a tourist looking for a relaxing day, Kandy Lake has something for everyone.

Historical Background

Kandy Lake, also known locally as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk was built by the last King of Sri Lanka, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, in 1807. The construction of the lake is a notable feat in Sri Lankan history for several reasons.

Royal Vision

King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe had a grand vision for Kandy Lake. It was constructed to amplify the natural beauty of the Temple of the Tooth, which housed the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. The lake was intended to be both an aesthetic and functional addition to the temple complex, providing a serene backdrop for rituals and a reservoir to meet the city's water needs.

Challenges and Obstacles

The construction faced many challenges, including resistance from the public, who viewed the project as an extravagant misuse of labor and resources. The king, however, pressed on with his vision, even after the British started encroaching upon his kingdom.

Architectural Aspects

The lake was initially more expansive and was connected to a complex network of underground tunnels. Although some of these tunnels are not in use today, they are a significant aspect of the lake’s historical design. The Walakulu wall that extends along the perimeter of the lake was part of the original design and continues to add a unique charm.

Transformations Over Time

After the British took over Kandy, the lake underwent changes but retained its original allure and function. Over time, it has become an integral part of Kandy's urban landscape and a living relic of Sri Lanka’s rich history.

Through its more than two centuries of existence, Kandy Lake has witnessed the unfolding of significant historical events and cultural practices. It remains an enduring symbol of Kandy's royal past and its cultural heritage.

Cultural Significance

Kandy Lake holds a deep connection to the cultural aspects of Sri Lanka. Located next to the Temple of the Tooth, the lake becomes a focal point during important religious and traditional ceremonies, the most prominent being the Esala Perahera. This annual festival honors the tooth relic of Buddha and features grand processions of dancers, drummers, and decorated elephants. The lake serves as a beautiful backdrop to these activities and attracts pilgrims and tourists from around the world. Beyond its role in annual festivals, Kandy Lake is also significant in daily spiritual practices. Many devotees walk around the lake as a form of meditation or to earn spiritual merit. The lake is not just a religious symbol but is also ingrained in the daily life of the people in Kandy. It acts as a communal space where locals can relax and socialize. Through these multiple roles, Kandy Lake continues to be a vital part of the cultural and spiritual fabric of the community.

Features of Kandy Lake

Kandy Lake is characterized by varying depths. The northern part of the lake is relatively shallow, while the southern end is deeper. This variation in depth creates different visual and recreational experiences around the lake. The shape of the lake itself is irregular, adding to its unique appeal and offering multiple angles for observing its beauty.

One of the lake's most prominent architectural features is the Walakulu Wall. This decorative wall, adorned with intricate designs, extends along part of the lake's perimeter. Originally part of the king's grand vision for the lake, the wall contributes to the overall aesthetic of the area.

The lake is also notable for its well-maintained walking path that circles the entire body of water. The path is paved and offers plenty of seating areas where you can relax and enjoy the view. The presence of small islands within the lake adds further visual interest and complexity to the landscape.

Things to Do at Kandy Lake


Boating stands out as one of the most popular activities at Kandy Lake. Visitors can choose from a variety of boating options, including paddleboats and rowboats. Some services even offer guided tours, providing historical and cultural insights as you navigate through the water. The southern, deeper end of the lake is often the chosen area for boating, as it offers a more extensive space to explore. This activity allows you to experience the lake from a different vantage point, and it's particularly popular in the late afternoon, just before sunset, when the water takes on a golden hue.


The well-maintained walking path that encircles the lake offers another appealing activity. Whether you're interested in a leisurely stroll or a more brisk walk, the path is suitable for all paces. Ample seating areas along the path provide spots to rest and take in the serene environment. This walking experience is particularly popular in the early morning and late afternoon when the temperature is more comfortable.


Kandy Lake's picturesque setting provides numerous opportunities for photography. The Walakulu Wall, small islands, and the lake itself offer a variety of backgrounds for your shots. The early morning mist and the sunset are popular times for capturing the lake's beauty, making it a haven for photography enthusiasts.

Flora and Fauna

Kandy Lake is surrounded by various types of trees and plants. It is also home to a number of bird species, like egrets and kingfishers. Fish are abundant in the lake, and you may often see locals fishing at certain spots.

Accessibility and Amenities

Kandy Lake is easily accessible by road and is within walking distance of many hotels in the city. Public restrooms and small shops selling snacks and drinks are available near the lake.

Location and How to Get There

Kandy Lake is located in central Kandy. It's a short drive from the Kandy Railway Station and the main bus terminal. Taxis and tuk-tuks are readily available, making it convenient for tourists to reach the lake.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Kandy Lake is from December to April. The weather is generally pleasant during these months, making it ideal for outdoor activities.

Tips and Advice

  • Comfortable Footwear: Wear shoes that are comfortable and suitable for walking, especially if you plan to explore the lake's perimeter on foot.
  • Boating Timings: Note that boating services usually stop operating at sunset. Plan your day accordingly if you wish to experience this activity.
  • Environment Consciousness: Please dispose of your trash responsibly. Garbage bins are located around the lake for your convenience.
  • Local Etiquette: Please show respect to locals, especially those engaging in religious or traditional activities near the lake.
  • Photography Restrictions: While the lake is a popular spot for photography, some areas near the Temple of the Tooth may have restrictions. Always check for signs or ask for permission.
  • Sun Protection: It can get quite sunny in Kandy. Consider wearing a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from sun exposure.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Temple of the Tooth: Located very close by, the Temple of the Tooth Relic is one of the most important Buddhist temples in the country. It houses the tooth relic of Buddha and is a must-visit for its historical and religious significance.
  2. Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya: About 5.5 km from Kandy Lake, these extensive gardens are known for their diverse collection of plants, including orchids and palms. A walk through these well-maintained gardens offers a peaceful escape from the city.
  3. Kandy City Center: This shopping complex is just a few minutes away from Kandy Lake. It's a modern hub offering a variety of retail stores, dining options, and entertainment activities.
  4. Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue: This massive Buddha statue sits atop a hill and is visible from various parts of the city, including Kandy Lake. Visitors can climb up to the statue for a closer look and to enjoy views of Kandy.
  5. Ceylon Tea Museum: Located approximately 4 km from Kandy Lake, this museum offers a deep dive into the history and production of Ceylon tea. Visitors can tour the facility, sample different types of tea, and even purchase some to take home.

Kandy Lake is a cornerstone of Kandy's cultural and natural landscape. With a variety of activities to choose from and its close proximity to other must-see attractions, this lake ensures that visitors can maximize their experience in the city. If you find yourself in Kandy, make it a point to visit the lake. Whether you go for an invigorating boat ride or a relaxing stroll around its perimeter, Kandy Lake promises a captivating experience that is sure to leave you mesmerized.

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