Growing up as an only child, I was always looking forward to the New Year holidays in April and the Christmas holidays in December. Why? Well, on top of being the only child, I am also the youngest in my generation; my youngest cousin is roughly 15 years older than me! It is only during the New Year and Christmas holidays that all my cousins take leave from work to rendezvous at our ancestral home in Kandy. Weren’t they the best of times! The days flew by while playing cricket, board games, goofing around and sharing stories. However, the most anticipated event was the family trip! What you have to understand is that this was a much simpler time, computers ran on MS-DOS and social media was not even invented, so going on a trip or travelling was somewhat of a luxury and not so mainstream.
This carefree life changed as I grew older. Holidays were ruined by tuition classes; and half of my cousins got married while the remaining singletons traveled abroad to pursue their careers. Since then, going home for the holidays was never the same.
Today I’d like to share with you an experience from earlier this year. In April, the old gang, their plus ones, and the new generation spent the New Year holiday together. My role as the “youngest in the family” has been taken up by my naughty nieces, while I’ve been promoted to the role of “Family Travel Advisor”. This meant that I was privileged with the task of proposing a location for the family trip. After hours of deliberation we finally decided to go on a one-day trip to Sembuwaththa Lake.
Many of my friends and work colleagues have said good things about Sembuwaththa Lake. A quick Google search proved them right. The photographs of the Lake were breathtaking and we couldn’t wait to get there! The only downside, and one thing you must be aware of, is that the road that leads to the lake is not great. The road cuts across a tea plantation; which is a nicer way of saying, “it’s a narrow gravel road”. On the next day we left Kandy early and made our way towards Matale along the Kandy – Matale main road. From Ukuwela junction we took a turn to the right and switched on to Elkaduwa road that led us to Elkaduwa junction. At the junction you turn right onto the Hunugala road. After about 4 kilometers you need to take another right turn which will take you to the lake. Alternatively, one can take the Madawala road from Kandy to reach the Wattegama town. From Wattegama town you can reach the Elkaduwa junction.
The rains from the previous night had made the roads muddy, but I must say that the road wasn’t as bad as described on the online reviews! We proceeded cautiously along the road that wound around hills covered with tea bushes and enjoyed the view that unfolded below us.
We were taken by surprise when the lake, out of nowhere, appeared in front of us! That’s right! You don’t anticipate coming face to face with such an immaculate landscape suddenly. The road to the lake ends with a steep inclination. Thus, one moment you’re looking at the blue sky above, and when you reach the peak, you’re on the bund of the lake! It really is a “WOW” moment!
The Sembuwaththa Lake is a man-made lake filled with natural spring water and has a depth that varies between 30 – 40 feet. The lake is adjacent to the Campbell’s Lane Forest Reserve and belongs to the Elkaduwa Plantation and is maintained and run by the Cooperative Society of the Elkaduwa State Workers. You need to purchase a ticket to enter the premises while tickets for activities are sold separately. The lake has now become a major tourist attraction that brings in patrons from around the country and the world. The spring water is also used to generate electricity to run the factory.
This picturesque location is the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, you can only enjoy it properly when it’s not too crowded. I wouldn’t recommend going there on a weekend unless you can get to the lake quite early during the day. The bund has roofed seating facilities for you to have a snack. If not, you can always have a little picnic on the bund, walk leisurely around the entire lake and take in the fresh pine fragrant air. The lake is surrounded by hills which are covered with trees of the Pinus variety. This along with the cold atmosphere makes you feel as if you are in Nuwara Eliya. One of my cousins managed to find a rock in the water about a foot away from the embankment where he sat down cross-legged to soak up the atmosphere.
On the other end of the lake is the activity area. The main attraction here is the swimming pool fed by natural spring water. Most of the people in the pool, including my nieces where shaking like leaves in the cold water; but they seemed to be enjoying themselves nonetheless! If you’re looking for a shot of adrenaline, the activity area has a zip-line that was quite popular! You can also rent a Kayak and take it for a spin in the lake!
To enjoy all the fun things you have to spend a few hours at the lake. Invariably, you will feel the need for some refreshments. Sadly, such facilities were not available on premises. Fortunately for us, we took our own refreshments!
The team that manages the site invested a lot of effort to maintain the site in pristine condition. There are many bins placed at strategic placed to dispose waste and keep the area litter free. The site is quite pleasant for an enjoyable one day trip.