Udawattekele Sanctuary | A Sanctuary for Wildlife Enthusiasts

Udawattekele Sanctuary

The Udawattakele Forest Reserve, often called Udawatta Kele, is a wooded beauty nestled away on a peak in Kandy. This historic forest, spanning a vast 104 hectares (257 acres), narrates tales from the era of the Kandyan kings when it earned the Sinhala name “Uda Wasala Watta,” signifying “the garden above the royal palace.” Udawattekele Sanctuary is a bird enthusiast’s paradise because of its wide variety of birds. Picture colorful feathers and melodic cries vibrating throughout the leaves. Udawattakele is a beautiful canvas painted with various plant species, including lianas, shrubs, and small trees, so it is not only about the birds. This forest provides a thriving environment for animals.

Animals of tiny and medium size hide and seek within the branches, and snakes and reptiles enhance the strange charm. Udawattakele was first recognized as a forest reserve in 1856 and has been sporting its sanctuary crown since 1938.

Specialties of Udawattekele Sanctuary

You can find the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Forest Department through the sanctuary. At one entrance is a natural instructing center. This lively area captivates curious minds with its fantastic collection of photos, posters, and even animals. Pupils, students, and interested tourists are drawn to the forest. Now you see that this forest sanctuary is more than just a playground for animals. It is an outdoor classroom for anyone who loves to experience nature. The sanctuary is an endless source of knowledge and enjoyment, attracting crowds of curious students eager to learn all it has to offer.

Udawattakele’s arrangement of nature’s symphony calms foreign visitors, especially those who enjoy being bird watchers. Scientific minds have researched to explore the hidden secrets of this natural wonderland and reveal its complex details.

Udawattekele Sanctuary Kandy is a spiritual location outside of the scientific environment. Udawattakele features three Buddhist meditation hermitages and three rock shelters for monks, providing a serene touch of heavenly calm. There is a peaceful blend of spirituality and nature, with each tree serving as a mute witness to ages past and the sound of leaves whispering tales of earlier times. In addition to being a green haven, Udawattakele Forest Reserve is a live, breathing representation of the fascinating stories rooted in Sri Lanka’s natural and cultural heritage.

History of Udawattekele Sanctuary

The city’s original name, Senkandagalapura, came from a legend about the Brahmin Senkanda, who lived in a cave in this forest. In 2012, a landslide caused the cave, now known as Senkandagala-lena and located above the temple of the tooth, to collapse. The forest featured a bathing pond reserved for the royal family during the Kandyan royal family. Its moniker, Thahanci Kele, or Forbidden Forest, came about due to restricted access. Several routes honor historical individuals and incidents in the forest, including Lady McCarthy’s Drive, Lady Horton’s Drive, built in 1834, and Lady Torrington’s Road.

Location of the Udawattekele Sanctuary Kandy

Udawattakele is 635 meters above sea level and is on a steep slope between the Temple of the Tooth and the Uplands-Aruppola housing complexes. Three Buddhist Forest monasteries, Forest Hermitage, Senanayakaramaya, and Tapovanaya, are in the sanctuary. It also has three monks’ cave residences, Cittavisuddhi-lena, Maitri-Lena, and Senkadandagala-Lena, which serve as Kandy city’s water storage area.

The Temple of the Tooth is about a 15–20 minute walk from the entrance on the west side of the forest. There is entry cost, parking, and a refreshment stall available. In the rainy season, visitors must use mosquito protection because of leeches.

Biodiversity of the forest 

There are 460 plant species in the sanctuary, nine indigenous. Pteridophytes and orchids like Cymbidium bicolor flourish. The forest is home to about 80 bird species, including endemics like Layard’s parakeet, despite being overrun by invasive species in some sections. Many animals, reptiles, and amphibians live in the sanctuary, making it ecologically important. However, invasive species like devil’s ivy and Peru balsam trees are putting the forest’s biodiversity at risk.

Wrapping up

Udawattakele is the perfect place for a quick hike or an enjoyable exploration of the forest and wildlife. The sanctuary is a must-see for its ecological, educational, and cultural significance. It provides a perfect blend of learning and the beauty of nature.


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