I only stopped at Gregory Lake in Nuwara Eliya long enough to take a few pictures on the way up to Seetha Amman Temple. I could see locals enjoying rides on speed boats and ponies and it seemed like a nice enough picnic spot.
The lake is named after Sir William Gregory, a British Governor who got the lake built in 1873 by damming the Thalagala river which begins its journey from the Pidurutalagala Mountain, also called Mount Pedro. The latter is the highest mountain in the country and a high security zone because of a substantial military presence.
While Gregory Lake served as a source of leisure when it was constructed, used for water sports even at that time, building dams and irrigation channels was not new to the Sri Lankans. The ruler Parakrama Bahu I would have been considered a great conservationist today as he either restored or built 163 major reservoirs and 2,617 minor tanks apart from building irrigation channels and stone sluices. I love the thinking behind his efforts “Let not even a drop of rain water go to the sea without benefiting man”. I wish we could do the same in Mumbai and other cities which see so much rainfall, almost all of it draining into the sea.