In 1521 the Beira Lake was constructed by the Portuguese to protect Colombo Fort against inland invasions. The original Beira Lake was much bigger and it entirely encircled a land space, then becoming an island (Slave Island). Now Beira Lake consists of four parts, the biggest and smallest lakes are not easy accessible to the public, while the Beira Lake on the Sir James Peiris Mawatha is a pleasant place to relax. It is surrounded by a pedestrian way and a walk around the lake with its big trees is enjoyable. There are two islands situated in the lake, one is the water temple Sima Malakaya, designed by the most famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, a modern wooden pavilion, covered with a blue tiled roof and surrounded by a banister with Buddha statues. The silence of the lake makes it an excellent meditation place. Next to the water temple, connected by a suspension bridge, is Lover’s Island. On the maps it’s indicated as Children’s Park, but don’t go there with your children, there are only love couples. It is one of the few places where couples can be together without being watched by family members or questioned by the police. Public affection is not appreciated in the Sri Lankan culture. It’s very busy on the island with love couples.
A total make over for the Beira Lake waterfront
The biggest change in the skyline of Colombo will be obvious in Slave Island. The character of the entire neighbourhood will be changed dramatically by 2020. A mind blowing make-over operation has already started in this area to lift Colombo up to the prestigious level of a metropolis compared with the big cities of the Asian Tigers; the civil war against the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) had blocked the development, but now that peace has already lasted for several years, the time is ready to boost the country into the direction of a rapid development. The positive changes the capital has already seen since the end of the war are remarkable. Slave Island is destined to become the entertainment and leisure center of Colombo. Multi stories spectacular skyscrapers around Lake Beira will arise and the waterfront of the lakes will be decorated with parks. The resort hotels will contain shopping complexes, conference halls and convention centers and high end residences. The government policy is aimed on promoting conference tourism.