VICTORIA: An amazing Lake and a Great Lady

Apr 19 2024.

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Down from the Knuckles Mountain range of over 34 peaks in central Sri Lanka lies the man-made Victoria Lake. In the earlier days of the dam’s creation and construction, the British Queen came to view the progress. The project was funded by the UK and opened in 1985 by the then-British Prime Minister. She was once noted to have said “This lady is not for turning”. Margaret made the UK great again.

The dam was called Victoria, some say after a waterfall upstream but more likely because of the famous Queen Victoria. Her statue was first placed in front of the port in Colombo over a hundred years ago and was removed from a side lane of Green Park some months ago. At one stage the statue post-independence faced the wall. Unceremoniously it has moved at least six times. I was tracking it this year and on a tip-off given to me I made a trip to the Victoria Dam reception area. The statue of Victoria was sitting wrapped in plastic sheeting in the car park, waiting to be re-positioned.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No.316: “You may have been the Queen of the largest Empire in the world, but today you’re a slab of marble.” Now some decades since Victoria Lake was created it is becoming a hot spot for both local and international tourists. It’s 44 kilometres from Kandy, the most visited city on the island. I had the chance some years ago to fly off the lake on a seaplane. As you look down the lake looks like an ageing “W” with at least nine rivers and streams going into it.

A decade ago, the water levels dropped dramatically and to this day with unpredictable weather the dam water can rise/fall substantially. Perhaps one of the biggest pioneers in the area is the Victoria Golf Resort supported by Troon Golf, a luxury and high-quality golf company from the UAE. The course is voted regularly the most scenic golf course in S.E. Asia. It’s a resort with a demanding 18-hole golf course, restaurants, horse riding, cycling, swimming pool and a massive wedding location by the lake. There are chalets, numerous houses and apartments that can be rented, leased or purchased.

 Victoria Water lends itself to some boating/sailing club creation but there is little progress. The bird life is amazing and a bird sanctuary could be another attraction to create. The biggest growth in visitors would come from the highway opening from Colombo. It has been started but now it looks like a low priority.

Some work was done on the Kandy airport project close to the golf course but I suspect that’s a few decades away. We often catch the early train to Kandy spending a weekend in the Victoria paradise location. As you get older beaches and blistering heat don’t have the same appeal.


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