From Dangerous Moat to Tranquil Lake
The Beira Lake is a well-known landmark within Colombo, situated in the heart of the capital and providing much-needed respite to the city’s residents from the concrete jungle that has rapidly developed around them. It occupies approximately 160 acres, but started out at more than twice that size. Created by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Beira Lake was originally conceptualized as a moat to defend against local Sri Lankan rulers who were attempting to overthrow the foreign invaders of their country. As part of their defense, the Portuguese filled the moat with a variety of hazards such as live crocodiles.
When Sri Lanka came under British rule, the crocodiles were removed and the area around the lake was developed. Beira Lake began to shed its destructive reputation and gradually became known as a venue of celebration, with recreational activities such as rowing and yachting beginning to take place on its waters. However, this festive designation eventually declined over time.
The Beira Lake Today
In the present day, the Beira Lake is home to attractions such as the Seema Malakaya Meditation Centre, an extension of the Gangaramaya Temple, which floats atop the lake’s waters; Lovers’ Island, a beautiful haven for couples to meander through; a jogging track, which for those so-inclined can be a great place to get away from the stresses of the city; and the popular swan boat rides, where two people can rent a manually-powered swan-shaped boat to paddle across the lake.