Category Archives: Water

Water and Water Sports and Water Supply in Kandy City

Water, Water Sports and Water Supply in Kandy City

I can write volumes about water but instead of making it boring for the reader I will jot down some of the salient points related to me and the City of Kandy and its surrounds.

This is just a reflection for the people who want to come to Kandy and reside within the Municipal Limits.


1. Not so long ago Kandy did not have pipe borne water.


Yes it had a beautiful lake but did not have pipe borne water. The credit of getting pipe borne water running in Kandy probably goes to our late P.M. Mrs. Sirimawo Bandaranaike (I stand to correction here and in no way underestimate the efforts made by Civil Servants and Engineers who had overseen the Kandy Water Project).


In my part I had in my later years of Civil Service as it were, with many Engineer friends would extend this project beyond Municipality Limits and President D.B.Wijetunge was the only President who made water accessible to people outside city limits. Suffice is to say late Mr. Premadasa used water as a political carrot and the Civil Servants under him were impotent to say the least.


Still later having left government service and working with foreign collaborators and Mahaweli Engineers, I was able to make the political drive to get water beyond Digana Village and to surrounding villages when J.V.P activity had crippled (1988 to 1992) the entire country.

I did not run away from the country when people needed my services.

I went abroad again only after the problems were sorted out except L.T.T.E activity in the North.


Most of my engineer friends have now long been retired and many had gone abroad never to return and I thank them profusely for what they did expecting nothing in return (unlike the present  day engineers who take huge bribes in every possible way) from the rude politicians.


I was their to spread the Social Vision “Water is Health and more water one uses more healthy one is ” was my jargon riddled Motto to convince them the need for drinking water for every being including animals.


2. There was high incidence of water-borne diseases in Kandy then.


3. Yes, British did not do anything to alleviate this problem.


4. The present Kandy Lake was a paddy field which extended to Nuwara Wela and Deiyanne Wela and the Old Lake that provided water to the paddy fields was located somewhere up and above and occupying the present Bogambara Stadium Complex.


The old lake road that runs parallel with the Wembly Theater is the only vestige left of the old lake.


4. But long before British the Nana Thota (Bathing Place) for the queens was on the left side of the Palace (Maligava).


5. The king’s harem was little above this Nana Thota.


This was turned into an armory during second world war.


6. Water was diverted from Bogambara Lake to this site by natural and built canals.

Built canals protected the Palace from invaders.


7. Present prison complex which is an eyesore to an ancient city (this prison now should be located elsewhere) probably belonged to the Nilames  (including Pilimithalawe) who resided there.

All the old houses were demolished by the British.

They were ruthless and Kandyan Kingdom was toothless then in spite of the Tooth Relic.


Even now it is like that and the Mahanayaks are toothless and are overtaken by the political bigwigs.


8. I do not know how the Governor had a bath when he came to Kandy for his sojourns.


9. Kandy had ample amount of rain and underground water was available if one digs a little down to the earth.


10. Buddhist priests had a bathing place (it is still there, hardly used now) in front of the Malawatta Temple.


That supports my above statement.


11. My maternal grant parents moved to Kandy during British and settled on the outer periphery of Kandy beyond the Ampitiya Seminary (which is where even now the clergy to be are trained).

My English education started there from that seminary (that story is for another day).


12. The land they bought extended to the periphery of the Seminary at its top.

The boundary was determined by waste water that runs during the rainy season.

His land had the best well in the neighborhood and in actual fact there were no neighbors when he settled down.

His brother of course ventured into tea plantation but come our time the tea  plantation was whole heartedly neglected.


14. The next biggest well was in the middle of the paddy field far away from my grandparent’s and that also belonged to a distant relation.


15. When I was very little I was in Kandy and my bathing place was Raja Pihilla (King’s Waterfall not a fountain) and that was where the king probably had his bath.


Strangely there were no water fountains in Kandy except one near the Maligawa.

Who wants water fountains when rain came every 7 to 10 day in Kandy?


I detest the use of water of the lake (from the Island in the middle) for spraying the city.

The water has all the nasties including pathological amoebae.


16. Beyond the point where the well was located inside a cubicle house  water was really scarce even  then.

It has become worse (well water) now.


17. After a major family dispute (basically due to eternal land disputes which my father hated) we moved away.

That was one of the best decisions my father made and I as a little brat (not even going to primary school) was very much involved in one of those disputes.


Relating that story was not relevant but I lost contact with all our dearly loved cousins thereafter.


18. From that point onwards the water supply and bathing was a big problem (I  of course preferred not bathing since water was very chilly unlike nowadays).


19. The said well housed inside a cubicle and was permanently locked and we had to take the key and fetch water and bathing was allowed only during weekends.


20. The weekends were the water sports days.

All the boys (related) will do the fetching of water and all the washing ups.

It was our swimming pool too (when closed from inside) and I learned to float on water upright and horizontal in this huge well.

Then we empty the entire well and that was supposed to feed the paddy fields.

In any case that was our justification (never the water sports we played  inside) and hit two birds with one stone.


21. There was a common bathing place for the entire village and we were lucky we never went there unless we were in a mood for water sports and nobody else was bathing there at the time of our visit.

When we come in a gang of course others give way but we knowing very well it is bad, never had any mishaps for the entire period we were there.


22. As we grew up we hated taking a bath inside (it was basically meant for ladies) a cubicle and we were basically outdoor people and went out in all directions looking for streams and bathing places.


23. There were quite a number then.

The streams were clean and learning swimming  in open space was another practice we indulged.


24. We left this place in early sixties never to return.

My father gets 4 yearly regimented transfers and only in his last 8 years I was able to move into Kandy City again.


Recently I visited one of those streams and there  is no more stream left but a waste water canal and  it was putrid and no fish life at all.


25. Little over thirty years all of them have become Kunu Elas (rubbish streams like the Mada Ela-I call it the Condom Ela since one can see condoms floating in the water) or run dry in Kandy.


26. From Raja Phihilla to Kunu Ela is the development we have had seen and witnessed in Kandy after the independence.


27. Kandy Lake is the most polluted water body and there is no question about it.

Once a national champion swimmer got drowned there.

That water is not even conducive to fish and tortoises.


28. The point I am driving at is there is no clean underground water to drink in Municipality Limits and we have to purify the water before drinking.

If for some reason pipe borne water is interrupted which is a regular occurrence nowadays there is no alternative source of water i.e., well water.


The open or surface water bodies are constantly being contaminated like in Pollonnaruwa.

It is becoming worse by the day.


29. A strange thing that happens nowadays is when the political bigwigs come to Kandy, water from Nillambe is diverted to supply Kandy, rudely interrupting the supply to where I live and sometimes over 24 hours.

This is specially so during Perehara time.


30. In this discussion in a list form, I have avoided talking about Mahaweli which runs round the city periphery.


Reason I should tell now.

Mahaweli was very dangerous in our time.

One of my cousins, one of my teacher’s brother, lot of undergraduates and  many more lives were lost in our times as opposed to only one life I mentioned above in the Kandy Lake.

After my cousin’s death we were banned but I still used to go with my uncles, dogs and servants.


There was always company and life saver standing by.


After the Polgolla dam everything in Kandy changed and the bomb at the Maligawa put a final nail to this city of adventure for many including Kings and the British.


It is where now only the business monkeys come to venture out.


I cannot walk my dog in a quiet evening round the lake which I used to do as a medical student.

The dog was my physical instructor then, not a highly paid foreigner/s (used by the Cricket Board going bankrupt).

I was a sportsman good enough to represent the university but not the national teams.


Sadly there is no place to play snooker or billiards except few hotels.

The other day we were at Digana and my daughter only remembered me playing snooker with the British guys which went on till early hours.

They were given ample space to play and a good restaurant to eat anything they want including fish and chips, they loved it.

The sports complex is no more and tennis court was like the university tennis court  in late 1980s  (1988-1989) with grass growing to the height of 6 feet and above in 2011-2012.

But tennis court at Digana was in trim condition then in spite of the hive of J.V.P activity.

I was able to play either indoors or outdoors and we had a squash court too.

Mind you we had a private bar too.


My current dog has no place to wander except inside the house.

This developing world has changed for worse and they are still continuing to develop more and more roads but no place for the poor pedestrians to rest or walk for leisure and exercise.


This has become a Miracle City only for Buddhists.


With development there is pollution especially Air we breath and Water we drink.

I thank the god in this Thanksgiving Weekend that I no longer reside within the municipality now.

I will not move in now, even for leisure.

Onion Saga-02

Now that cricket fever is over and I do not watch the I.P.L (gallery cricket or name it people cricket with cheap betting activated-for CEOs who do not have any worthwhile hobby to engage in, when he comes home and watch it on a potato couch) cricket anyway, and it is time to come down to earth with New Year celebration round the corner.

I neglected my pet fish and the tiny garden and even forgot to water them.

When onion was fetching Rs.300/= and above and when we were buying some rotten onions a few of them were thrown away in the dustbin in the kitchen, I retrieved them from the bin and planted in few pots to see the onion saga really emerging.

Except two all of them sprouted well and I watered them liberally.

They were healthy with my dog adding useful urea (his urine as a fertilizer) spurts in his rounds with me.

Mind you dogs love the smell of fresh plants growing and my dog has the habit of smelling the leaves of the young plants and enjoying the smell and fragrance of flowers (I have Jasmine too) and as a stamp of approval of my work he does the yeoman service of spurting some urea (he is a bit of a young natural scientist unlike our kids who learn only from government published books not updated for ages-and certainly have no idea of, from where the beans and onions come from) and he never does the big job on the plants (he lets me know when he wants to do the big job and never on the plant beds-that is why call him a young scientist).

So sorry for the diversion and my dogs rounds has to be appreciated in best of terms since I had no intention of using onions in the kitchen but as a plant to watch and make my simple observation of using them as bio-indicators of atmospheric temperature.

In no time they started blooming with long stems and I gradually reduced the amount of water and abruptly stopped watering them to see what happens next.

This is the same ploy I applied to pineapples plant after flowering but stated watering it to see from where the next stem comes. It has grown a stem with a wild plant accompanying it’s root and growing strongly in spite of bearing a fruit once.

Incidentally another pineapple plant started flowering after two years.

The real surprise came today.

As I said I neglected my routine and due to intermittent inter-monsoon rain (not heavy) I did not bother to water other plants.

The surprise is on top of the flower stem there were tiny onion bulbs growing and the slender stem bearing their weight. The intermittent rain had caused the seeds to germinate.

I immediately took it out with the young bulbs and planted in another pot.
Another flower stem was separated and put it on a pot with soil soaked with water.
The other to were left alone to see what happen next.
This is how I learned my biology and science as a kid.

I did not have a science teacher till I was about 15 years old and when I got a science teacher, I was well advanced in my own discoveries, he could not spoil my natural instinct and discoveries.

Now I wonder how I came this far with minimal help from the teachers except the mathematics teacher and physics teacher.

Biology teacher was horrible to say the least.

Now coming to my inference.

In Kandy we could not grow the following 40 years ago.

1. Pineapples
2. Pumpkins (no flowering)
3. Papaw
4. Lemons and Oranges (no fruits and flowering fails)
5. Some type of orchids ( I do not have a single orchid now which was a hobby of my father when we were in Kurunagala and with his demise, the hobby died a natural death and in Kandy we could have only a few of the orchids growing that were plenty when we were in Kurunagla).

All of them are growing (except orchids which I have not tried) and flowering now and the global warming has hit us real.

It is time for me to transfer my interests to orchids now with retiring age approaching fast.

Onion Saga -01

Onion saga is much better topic than the Coconut saga.

Coconut saga was deliberate attempt by Americans (Jimmy Cater included) to undermine coconut oil (which they have succeeded until perhaps I came into the writing scene quite by accident- to promote peanut oil and peanut butter).

The lesson in history is not to believe Americans if he or she happens to be an American diplomat male or female.
I am made to believe that the woman scientist who published the coconut theory (bad for heart) had an untimely death (was made to commit suicide by her very own masters) is not a tragedy in human sense but a discovery in science.

Now even the coconut go up to Rs.100= I am not inclined to write anything on coconut but Onion Saga is welcome reminder for me to get into full gear and explode if possible.

This time it was not American intervention.

This time it is coming from and booming Indians who have spawned a Scientific Inquiry and few pertinent questions.

According to economic pundits Indian economy is booming but despite the rocket carrying satellite burst in air, Indian farmers for the first time in Green Revolution initiated by Mrs.Gandhi have failed to take into account of the average Onion Bargjji Eaters.

But I was happy they did not.

When Indian market sneezes we have a political hiccoughs.

I was given strict instruction by my wife not to come home without Bombay Onions even if I have to go to Bombay for that (Sorry my Mumbaians -we still call onions Bombay Onions and Bombay Mutai is our sweet- we do not read or see global name changes).

I did find a place to by Onions and just before the fellow started weighing I took a big onion in my hand and asked him to weigh and tell me the price.

Believe it or not it was 50 (fifty fifty), the price of a coconut.

I asked the fellow to parcel that onion separately and got a kilo of onion and came home happily.
My wife opened the parcel and asked me why one is separately wrapped.

My answer was that is fifty rupees and rest are multiples of fifty.

And I told her that it has poison weight for weight and do clean and wash them before cooking and eating.

But I thought the saga would end there but it did not,

My wife left home for some work outside and today the servant lady was doing the honours at the kitchen and she dropped the entire remaining (let’s say 750 grams of it to be precise) lot into the dustbin right under my nose.

They were sprouting!

Hold it I told her; Give me my Onions!
Why Sir.
I am going to plant them today in a pot.
She did not have any answer back.

Then I looked for any pots to plant them but I could not find any.

So jumped into my Denim and raised to Kandy and had a haircut in the shape of coconut with an onion ring shape of hair in the middle.

That is my hair style for the Cricket World Cup and Tharunnayata Hetek Boys Brigade if would you like to copy it?

But the style is my copyright, you boys brigade.

Happy New Year with plenty of Onions and Coconuts!

Incidentally, I had a haircut today and the barber told me there were few blisters and a moonate (green pea) sized ulceration on my top. Then I remember I was walking down the Trincomale Street in front of the Maligawa and something watery stuff fell on my head (it was not a bird’s- not crow’s -dropping) from the Queens hotel building. I thought must be from the air conditioner cooling but three hours later, I washed my head thoroughly in case it was something nasty.

I still wonder what it is and we cannot now walk in front of the Maligawa (without an unnatural accident of some sort) and this building is managed by Indians and I do not know what the hell they are storing upstairs.
Is it a curse or an accident I do not know.
In any case I come to Kandy to browse some books in the bookshops and not for shopping now but certainly or a haircut at my regular place which is surviving still.

Putting on Top of a Murunga Tree

I manage to find a two Murunga saplings and wanted to look after them till big enough and relocate them in a suitable place. I could not water them for three days and one wilted and whithered away. The other survived and started blooming prematurely. I resisted taking the flowers for a vegetable curry. I let them pollinate (which is rare with no bees around) and only one flower produced a pod.

Side by side there were two cocoa plants which germinated out of over 100 rotten seeds.
Similar fate descended one of them and I kept on watering it in spite of its stem looked like fire wood.
Murunga sapling disappeared but the stem which looked like tiny black wood after about 3 months started sprouting and few leaves appeared.
My gut feeling was correct. I thought this would happen because it is not a native plant but that comes from mid Africa.
African plants can stand adverse weather for long period of time.
Our slender plants cannot withstand adverse weather. Murunga was an example.

So my prediction is that we will lose lot of our biodiversity much more and faster than Africa loses.
Come coal power plant when operational that will aggravate the context much faster and swiftly.
I heard our energy minister thinking of a nuclear plant here.
I wish he looks at pictures of Hiroshima first and the current pictures coming from Japan.

Real reason for writing this is not for that reason.
I cannot go to sleep without a swipe at the local elections.
We have a saying in Sinhala put a man on a Murunga Branch (unfortunately not on the moon to bring rice some of them promised to bring) to mean let him eventually tumble down quickly.
I wish all the present candidates land on Murunga Branches.
Then we can see them falling off quickly with the cost of living going up by the minute.

Actually when we elect them that is what we want them to be (on a Murunga Branch) but they have devised and engineered some other methods to stay longer on the Murunga branch and unfortunately we cannot have the last laugh.

This one chance we have that we can give them a Murunga Treat and it will be a Maru or Mara (Devil) Treat.

Thinking before the leap

It is unfortunate that man is the biggest polluter on the planet earth and he thinks only after the fact or afterward.

This is very relevant today with flash floods in different parts of the world.

He thinks the rivers and sea are dumping places for his economic activity.

He does not care for the river basin or its management and install industries upstream and discharge all the waste to the river and its basin around. This is seen in India, China, USA and all European countries.

It is true of Sri-Lanka too.

From the time of Portuguese this has happening in this land. They started with a port called Colombo and the Kalani river is the most polluted of all.

Then he invents filters and the like to purify water.

We might even invent nanotechnology but is it worth if we continue to pollute our soil and water?

We have water cutting ceremony every year and it is time to rethink and revisit our heritage.

Pure drinking water we had 100 years ago.

More development more pollution that is the equation which we cannot understand with the big brains we have.

We need not have to filter if we do not pollute it in the first place.

Is there a single river or stream in this country which hails for over 40 rivers and streams that we can sip some water for thirst without any treatment?

If we cannot drink it does not matter.

We can filter or boil it.

What about the animals who try to live with us.

Can a stray dog drink a bit of pristine water on a Poya Day!

When we see the sorry stage of our stray dogs I begin to wonder is it a Buddhist country in practice anymore?

We had Kings who cared for animals but can we say the same thing about the elected elite!

That is my message for the first Poya Day. of year 2011.