February 2012

The Placid Beauty Of Sembuwaththa Lake
February 2012

Sembuwaththa Lake with the white mist drifting by...

Swirling mists rolled over offering small glimpses of emerald green water, beautiful trees and lush meadows as I tentatively peered through the gathering whiteness. With a sudden shift in the wind, the veil of mist lifted and I stood there spell bound by the sublime beauty that was before me in the form of Sembuwaththa Lake.

Words Krishani Peiris | Photography Indika de Silva & Prabath Chathuranga

Travelling past the small town of Elkaduwa, the jeep rambled through winding narrow roads that snaked through tea estates, finally arriving at the Elkaduwa Plantation. The Sembuwaththa Lake is situated in the premises of Elkaduwa Plantation and it provides electricity - through hydro power - for the people who live in the Sembuwaththa division of the plantation. We continued on, climbing upwards - at times bumping and swaying - as we made our way to our ultimate destination. After a while the white letters that spelled ‘Sembuwaththa Lake' amidst well maintained greenery, announced that we had arrived. Driving on to a gravel road we stopped and stepped out. Except for the white mist, not much could be seen, as we took small steps away from the comfort of the jeep and on to the well paved gravel road. Unsure of what awaited us, we nervously peered around becoming more aware of the chilly weather and the moisture that accompanied the fog as it swirled around us.

Slowly the mist shifted with the wind and we were able to catch a glimpse of the stunning expanse that surrounded us. The area rendered the effect of a gorgeous painting, sprinkled with many shades of green, with bits of brown peering here and there. Mountains outlined with dark green trees adorned the far reaches, while tea plants and more trees that contrasted with the dark greenery of the mountains, bordered the Lake. Across the emerald tinged Lake were grayish-brown coloured huts that blended in perfectly, with their wooden structures and thatched roofs.

The area rendered the effect of a gorgeous painting, sprinkled with many shades of green...

As we stood there transfixed, the colours seemed to change with the receding mist, surrounding us with feelings of calm and solitude. The only sound that could be heard was the slight rustling of the trees as they swayed in the wind. Afraid to break the encircling silence, we spoke in strangled whispers exchanging our sentiments of appreciation about this alluring Lake. We stared at the surroundings trying to commit each intricate detail to our memories, before it slipped away.

A cool blast of wind whipped around us, coaxing us to come out of our reverie and make our way along the narrow mud path, which went around the Lake, to the side where the huts stood. The path wound through tea plants and we went single-file jumping over puddles stopping now and then to view and admire the different panoramas that changed with each step. Emerging from the mud path, we made our way to a pool painted in green. Visitors who wish to bathe could use this pool, as bathing in the Lake is not permitted due to its depth. Here nature has given way to human intervention. The surrounding area is made more habitable with small huts - the huts we saw earlier - built to shelter visitors from the ever changing weather patterns of the area.

As we stood there transfixed, the colours seemed to change with the receding mist...

Feeling a slight drizzle, we quickly made our way into one of the clay huts, seeking shelter from the onslaught of the downpour that commenced right away. The surrounding area resonated a gloomy feeling while we stood there listening to the pitter patter of the rain while rain drops dotted the Lake.

Once the rain stopped, we retreated our steps stopping by another hut, which was made out of wood. 
A rickety ladder led us aloft and we sat down at the wooden benches inside, for a stretch. Observing the other side, which acted as the gateway to the Lake, we were surprised to discover that quite a few things were left unnoticed while we were there. Our attention was quickly drawn towards a man crouching down, holding an umbrella and casting a net into the Lake and also towards a hut situated quite close by to the place where we had stopped.

We sat there drawn towards the alluring charm and amidst the comforting silence, as the sky darkened again. In our hearts we were glad that the beauty of the Sembuwaththa Lake remained unchanged in the face of fickle weather.

Kandy - Ukuwela Junction (right) - Elkaduwa - Hunugala Road (3 to 4km drive) - Sembuwaththa Lake (right turn)