|Basin countries||Sri Lanka|
|Surface area||19.01 ha (47.0 acres)|
|Max. depth||18 m (59 ft)|
|Water volume||867×103 m3 (30.6×106 cu ft)|
|Shore length1||3.4 km (2.1 mi)|
|Surface elevation||529 m (1,736 ft)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
Kandy Lake (Sinhalese: බෝගම්බර වැව/ කිරි මූද), also known as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk, is an artificial lake in the heart of the hill city of Kandy, Sri Lanka, built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe next to the Temple of the Tooth. Over the years, it was reduced in size. It is a protected lake, with fishing banned. There are many legends and folklore regarding the lake. One such is that the small island at its center was used by the king's helm for bathing and was connected to the palace by secret tunnel.
Kandy Lake, the main body of water in Kandy in central Sri Lanka, is a man-made lake created in 1807 by the last Sinhalese king of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, using forced labor. Deveda Moolacharya is considered the architect of the Kandy Lake. The king used land which was a paddy field to create the lake. The king first built a dam across the paddy fields, starting from the Pattiruppuwa (Octogen) side, where the steps leading into the lake by the Mahamaluwa (Esplanade) are still visible, stretching across to the Poya-maluwa. The dam, upon which a roadway was constructed, allowed the king to go across to the Malwatte Vihare. According to D’Oyley, the dam was constructed between 1810–1812. It stands as an indictment[according to whom?] of the excesses of the Kandyan monarchy for wasting away national resources to build an ornamental lake at a time when the kingdom was under serious threat. When a hundred of his advisors advised King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe against building the lake, he had them impaled on the reservoir bund of the paddy field which he was converting into the ornamental lake. It was not long before the British captured him, with help from his own noblemen disgruntled by his irrational policies.
Kandy Lake has a perimeter of 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi) and a maximum depth of 18 metres (59 ft). A decorative wall, called Walakulu wall, runs for 630 metres (2,070 ft) along the banks of the Kandy Lake. In the middle of the lake is an island housing the Royal Summer House. Sri Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is located beside the lake across the road. On the opposite side of the road from the Temple of the Tooth Relic is the Royal Bathhouse.
The Kandy Lake offers a place for a stroll or a jog. The shady path surrounding the lake provides a view of the hills and the town. The lake was created in 1807 by the last Sinhalese King. It is situated by the side of the Temple of the tooth relic. The Malwatte temple, one of the two head temples of the Siyam Nikaya sect of Theravada Buddhism, is also located overlooking the lake. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the last king of Kandy, decorated the lake with the "walakulu" (clouds) wall.
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe built a dam for the purpose of reaching the opposite side of the lake. The king removed the soil from both the palace end and the Malwatte Vihare end, leaving an island behind. At first this island was used as the Royal Summer House for the Queen and the ladies of the court to relax. The British later used it as an ammunition store and added a fortress-style parapet around its perimeter.
The lake is surrounded by a wall called Walakulu Bamma (Sinhalese: වළාකුළු බැම්ම) or Clouds Wall, which was built to increase the beauty of the Kandy Lake. It extends around half of the lake and has taken one skilled architect to build it. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was unable to complete the wall before the city was captured by the British and he was forced to relinquish the Kandian kingdom. The Walakulu Bamma still lies unfinished. The triangular shaped holes in the wall were used in the past for lighting oil lamps on festival days.
Ulpange or Queens Bathing Pavilion is situated partly in the waters of the Kandy Lake. The wives and concubines of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe used the pavilion when bathing in the lake. After the British captured the city they added another storey and used the building as a library. It is currently used as a police post.
Facts about the lake
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- Spill level above: 1740 M.L.S
- Capacity: 704 acre-feet
- Perimeter of the tank: 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi)
- Maximum depth: 18 metres (59 ft)
- Length of the decorative wall: 630 metres (2,070 ft)
- Catchment area: 1.045 Q.M.I
There are a variety of different trees planted around the lake including Nuga trees, palm trees, fruit trees, Sal trees and Mara trees. Some of the trees are about 74 years old. The trees are now maintained by the Municipal Council of Kandy.
There are a number of bird species found on the lake, including:
- Diyakawa (Indian cormorant)
- Koka (white egret crane)
- Ali koka (wood stork)
- Karawal koka (pelican)
Pollution of the lake is a serious problem. The government and the surrounding schools are trying to decrease the problem by putting signs and operating environmental societies. Until 1960 the Kandy water board used the lake to distribute water to the surrounding areas. They stopped pumping water from the lake because of the increase in pollution.
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