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Bridge on the River Kwai Location

In March 1958, The Bridge on the River Kwai swept seven Academy Awards including the award for Best Picture. The movie, exploring the lives of British prisoners of war being held at a Japanese prison camp in Burma, was filmed in Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon) near the town of Kitulgala, which is known for its rainforests, adventure sports and activities. The movie was based on the 1952 novel by Pierre Boulle. The filming location for Bridge on the River Kwai is today indicated by a discreet, rusted piece of metal on which directions to the area have been painted. Discover this hidden gem set away from the crowds. 

The bridge that was used to shoot the movie in 1956 and 1957 no longer exists, as it was dismantled once filming had concluded in order to protect the ecology of the surrounding environment. Although the Kelani River was a slower-moving waterway during the film’s shooting than it is today, David Lean (the director of the movie) is said to have nearly drowned when the river swept him away during a break from filming.

Recently, the Tourist Board of Sri Lanka has considered installing a replica of the bridge from the film to promote further interest in Kitulgala and its surrounding rainforests to visiting tourists. Visit Kitulgala during the peak season of January to March, as the climate is cooler and with less rainfall; it’s the ideal time to partake in a variety of water sports in the area. 

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