Kandy Lake and the island which houses the Royal Summer House at dawn, Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka, Asia

Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Kandy Lake


Dominating the town is Kandy Lake. A leisurely stroll around it, with a few stops on the lakeside seats, is a pleasant way to spend a few hours, although diesel-spurting buses careening around the southern edge of the lake can mar the peace somewhat. The nicest part to walk along is the area around the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Due to some past cases of harassment, single women should not walk here alone after dark.

The lake is artificial and was created in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of the kingdom of Kandy. Several minor local chiefs protested because their people objected to labouring on the project. In order to stop the protests they were put to death on stakes in the lake bed. The central island was used as Sri Wickrama Rajasinha’s personal harem. Later the British used it as an ammunition store and added the fortress-style parapet around the perimeter. On the south shore, in front of the Malwatte Maha Vihara, the circular enclosure is the monks’ bathhouse.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kandy attractions

1. Malwatte Maha Vihara

0.11 MILES

One of the principal viharas (Buddhist complexes) in Kandy, the Malwatte Maha Vihara is located across the lake from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

2. Sri Dalada Museum

0.12 MILES

This museum occupies the upper two floors of the Alut Maligawa building and contains a stunning array of gifts donated by several presidents and Buddhist…

3. Alut Maligawa

0.12 MILES

The three-storey Alut Maligawa is a large shrine hall displaying dozens of sitting Buddhas donated by devotees from Thailand. Its design resembles a Thai…

4. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

0.13 MILES

The golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha. During puja…

5. World Buddhism Museum

0.13 MILES

Housed inside the former High Court buildings, the World Buddhism Museum contains lots of photographs, models and displays illustrating Buddhism around…

6. Audience Hall

0.15 MILES

To the north of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, but still within the compound, is the 19th-century Audience Hall, an open-air pavilion with stone…

7. National Museum

0.15 MILES

This museum once housed Kandyan royal concubines and now features royal regalia and reminders of pre-European Sinhalese life. One of the most impressive…

8. Rajah Tusker Hall

0.16 MILES

Adjacent to the Audience Hall, the Rajah Tusker Hall displays the stuffed remains of Rajah, the famous Maligawa elephant who died in 1988. Rajah was the…