Udawatta Kele sanctuary is important for so many reasons. Lying in the heart of Kandy city, this is indeed a special place worth visiting. So, here’s all you need to know about this beautiful forest reserve.
Udawatta Kele, which is also known as the Royal Forest Park, is located in Kandy, Sri lanka. It will take only less than 15 minutes to reach this location from the main city of Kandy. This sanctuary holds historical importance and is known for its rich bio reserve and extended avifauna. It is also a shelter for various butterfly, bird, reptile species, and mammals.
Use this article before visiting Udawatta Kele if you need to know more information.
What Is Udawatta Kele Sanctuary?
The Udawatta Kele sanctuary (forest reserve), or the Royal Forest Park, is located in the heart of Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka. This is probably the only forest reserve in Sri lanka that borders a main city. Located close to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it will take only about 10 minutes for you to reach this location from Kandy city (0.9 miles).
Udawatta Kele was known as “Uda Wasala Watta” in Sinhalese, which translates to “the garden above the royal palace” in English. And this is well-renowned for its rich avifauna and the various types of animals you can find inside.
A Little Peek At The History Of Udawatta Kele…
Many centuries back, the area surrounding Kandy had been a dense rainforest. But the human colonies were established during the reign of King Panditha Perakumba, and in 1371 AD, King Wickramabahu made Kandy his ruling kingdom. During this time, Kandy was called “Senkadagala.”
The ancient manuscripts say that this name existed because a Brahmin named Senkanda lived in a cave (Senkadagala Lena) at Udawatta Kele. This cave existed from the ancient days until 2012 when it collapsed due to a landslide. After that, all the kings who came to the throne took suitable measures to conserve this forest and considered it a component of the Royal Palace.
Udawatta Kele Was Super Important For The Royal Family Back Then…
Consequently, the forest was declared as property of the throne and a forbidden zone (Thahansi Kele) for the public. The royal family utilized this forest as a pleasure garden and to supply food to the elephants who belonged to the royal palace. And during the wars and foreign invasions, this Udawatta Kele backed the royals to flee and hide and as a pathway for them to retreat to other secure areas.
The condition of the forest declined due to human activities. In 1856, the Sri Lankan Government declared it a Forest Reserve, while later, in 1938, it became a sanctuary. Kandy Lake gets its water resources primarily from the catchment areas of Udawatta Kele. And the folks also believe that a tunnel joined the pond inside the forest with Kandy Lake.
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What Kind Of Experience Can You Get At Udawatta Kele Sanctuary?
Your visit to Udawatta Kele will probably be the only instant environment-switching experience you’ll get in Sri Lanka! Since the forest area is located very close to Kandy city, you’ll feel the distinctive environment shift from an urban, buzzing city to peaceful and calm wildlife.
The toque macaque (the reddish-brown colored monkey endemic to Sri Lanka) is a familiar friend whom you will often be welcomed as soon as you enter the forest zone. Once you obtain your ticket from the ticketing booth, you’ll be accessed to a thick, verdant forest park filled with the sounds of the birds and other wildlife.
The sanctuary could only be explored on foot, and it will take approximately 5 hours to trek the entire area. You’ll be mesmerized to see the extended avifauna of this forest, and you can click tons of beautiful pictures of the giant trees, indigenous shrubs, endemic orchids, creepers and vines, lianas, etc.
Indulge in Supreme Nature And Wildlife…
Udawatta Kele is no short of different species of birds, butterflies, insects, and reptiles. Along with the toque macaque monkey, you’ll also catch a glimpse of many other small mammals native to Sri Lanka. The enchanting pond is filled with colorful fish, and you’ll often hear the endless croak of the frogs, which marks their territory in this forest.
Do not miss out on visiting the highest peak of this sanctuary, known as “Kodimale”. And you will also get to see several Buddhist temples and ancient hermitages inside the forest park. The massive 200 to 300 years old “Pus Wela” liana is one of the most unique features in Udawatta Kele.
The direction boards placed in several places inside the forest will guide you the way, and you’ll also find restrooms and a small cafeteria if you need to refresh. There is a conservation center you could visit, and once you reach the Kandy Town View Point, you will be able to get a scenic view of the entire city of Kandy.
Things To Consider About Safety And Security At Udawatta Kele
Udawatta Kele is an entirely safe zone to trek along, but there are a few things that you should consider. Since you are entering wildlife and you will have to complete the walk only on foot, we would recommend not taking your kids.
Moreover, since Udawatta Kele is a wet area, you’ll encounter a lot of leeches, bugs, and insects along the pathways. Therefore, make sure to apply an anti-bug spray, anti-leech spray, or wear long socks or boots to avoid leech bites or bug bites.
You can seek the help of an experienced tour guide to help you with the trek inside the forest. And we would suggest you dodge the rainy days and plan your visit on a sunny day for a much more pleasant exploration. However, since rains are unexpected in Kandy, it would be best to pack up a raincoat, a hat, a cap, and other essentials that you might need if it starts pouring.
How Can You Get To Udawatta Kele?
Getting to Udawatta Kele is not at all difficult. Once you get to Kandy city, you can easily reach this forest in no time! It will take about 10 minutes to get to Udawatta Kele if you take a tuk-tuk or a taxi from the main city of Kandy.
You’ll be able to get to the entrance and get down by the ticketing booth. However, you can also walk all the way up to the forest from the town if you need to explore the area more. And it will take around 20 minutes to walk up to the forest.
Other Attractions Near Udawatta Kele That Might Interest You
Chances are high that it will not take up to an entire day for you to explore the sanctuary. Hence, you’ll have enough time within a day to visit other nearby attractions as well. So, you can see:
- The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
- Visit Kandy View Point
- Stroll around Kandy Lake/ take a boat ride in the lake
- See the Ceylon Tea Museum
- Visit the Bahirawakanda Temple
- Delve into the Royal Botanical gardens of Peradeniya
Or else, you can dedicate the entire day to exploring and even hiking the Hanthana Mountain range. And you could also hit the Victoria Gold Club in Digana, which is about 1 hour away from the main city of Kandy. In addition, there are plenty of cultural handcraft, gems and jewelry, fabrics (batik and handloom) shops, restaurants, and cafes around to explore.
More Travel Tips and Important Things To Remember When Visiting Udawatta Kele
- Udawatta Kele opens to visitors at 8.00 AM and closes around 6.00 PM.
- It is crucial to bear in mind that Udawatta Kele sanctuary is a well-preserved space, so it is the mere responsibility of every traveler to explore nature without disturbing the wildlife.
- Activities like picking flowers, extracting plants and vines, damaging trees, etc., are strictly prohibited. Thus, make sure you are on your best behavior.
- You can take enough water, but carrying polythene inside the forest is not allowed. And the food is also not encouraged by the administration. So you can use the cafe inside the forest park for refreshments.
- Use only the designated paths and trails and be aware of the surroundings, especially if you travel alone, ensuring not to explore forbidden areas in the forest.
Enjoy The Beauty Of Nature As You Stroll Along The Tranquil Paths Of Udawatta Kele…
The picturesque setting of this thick foliage is like a paradise you’ll find in the middle of a busy city. Udawatta Kele has been an important part of the royal families in ancient times and has been a gem of the heritage of Kandy city ever since. So, if you ever feel like taking a break from humans and concrete, Udawatta Kele is the best spot to indulge in the serenity of nature and pure wildlife.