Kandy Lake

Kandy lake
Kandy Lake, locally known as Nuwara Wewa or Kiri Muhuda (Sinhala: නුවර වැව; Tamil: கண்டி ஏரி), is an aesthetic water body located adjacent to the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the middle of Kandy town, Sri Lanka.

The tank was constructed by the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 A.D.), between 1810 and 1812 by using Rajakariya (forced) labour to increase the aesthetic beauty of the Royal Palace Complex and the surrounding temples (Abeyawardana, 2004; Jinadasa et al, 2019; Rajapakse, 2016; Silva, 2003). According to the records of Robert Knox (1641-1720 A.D.), an English sea captain in the service of the British East India Company, there was a small pond at the site during the reign of King Rajasinghe II (1629-1687 A.D.) prior to the construction of the tank (Rajapakse, 2016).

The site where the tank has been constructed was a stretch of paddy fields known as Tigolwela in the past (Abeyawardana, 2004). In the middle of it was a pond named Kiri-muhuda [(the sea of milk) Abeyawardana, 2004]. It is said that the monks of the Asgiriya and Malwatta Chapters were not happy about the construction of the tank but the king had not paid attention to them (Abeyawardana, 2004). Prior to the construction, there had been a road through the paddy fields to Malwatta Viharaya and a temple belonging to the Asgiriya Chapter (Abeyawardana, 2004). Also, a temple named Kobbekaduwa Viharaya was situated near the outer sluice (Abeyawardana, 2004). Due to the construction of the tank, all these landmarks were inundated (Abeyawardana, 2004).

The small island
The small island in the middle of the tank was known as Diyathilaka Mandapaya in the past (Abeyawardana, 2004). It is said that the king used this for his relaxation or to imprison the ladies of the harem who didn't adhere to him (Abeyawardana, 2004; Rajapakse, 2016). By 1850, it was used as an ammunition store by the British (Rajapakse, 2016).

The Ulpange which is thought to have been constructed in 1806 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, is located on the edge of the Kandy Lake.

The tank
The tank is fed by the small brook Heelpan Kandura which starts from Hanthana Mountain as well as by two other brooks named Sarankara and Raja Pihilla (Rajapakse, 2016).  (Rajapakse, 2016). It covers a surface area of 0.25 square km and has a circumference of 3.25 km (Dissanayake et al., 1982; Jinadasa et al, 2019; Silva, 2003). It is 13 m in maximum depth (Silva, 2003).

The wall called Walakulu Bemma (clouds wall) that surrounds the tank has increased the beauty of the tank. It measures 633.82 m (Abeyawardana, 2004).

Pollution has become a serious problem for Kandy Lake (Dissanayake et al, 1982; Dissanayake et al, 1987; Jinadasa et al, 2019; Silva, 2003). Being situated at a low elevation amidst hills, the tank acts as a sink for surface runoff and domestic and industrial waste matter carried by effluent canals (Dissanayake et al, 1987). Also, the building activities around the environs have added additional force to increase the pollution level of the tank (Dissanayake et al, 1987).


1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.20-21.
2) Dissanayake, C.B., Bandara, A.R. and Weerasooriya, S.V.R., 1987. Heavy metal abundances in the Kandy lake-An environmental case study from Sri Lanka. Environmental Geology and Water Sciences, 10(2), pp.81-88.
3) Dissanayake, C.B., Senaratne, A., Weerasooriya, S.V.R. and De Silva, S.H.G., 1982. The Environmental pollution of Kandy lake: A case study from Sri Lanka. Environment International, 7(5), pp.343-351.
4) Jinadasa, K.B.S.N., Weragoda, S.K., Valencia, E., Sim, S.T.V. and Ng, W.J., 2019. Community engagement and pollution mitigation at Kandy Lake, Sri Lanka. Water Practice and Technology, 14(1), pp.55-61.
5) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.15-16.
6) Silva, E.I.L., 2003. Emergence of a Microcystis bloom in an urban water body, Kandy Lake, Sri Lanka. Current Science, 85(6), pp.723-725.

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This page was last updated on 3 July 2023

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