Spanning over an area of more than 100 hectares, the Udawattekele Sanctuary is a historic forest reserve that sits on a hill within the city of Kandy.
A Royal Sanctuary
Once known as the Uda Wasala Watta (or the “garden above the royal palace” in the Sinhalese language), the sanctuary is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna. It was once a pleasure garden for Kandyan royalty, and was reserved for the exclusive use of the royal family. They would use the pond within the forest to bathe in, and the public was forbidden from entering its grounds. It was designated a forest reserve in 1856, before officially becoming a sanctuary in 1938.
Monasteries and Nature Trails
The forest holds some significance as a religious area, with three Buddhist monasteries and three rock cave dwellings for monks found within it. Students can often be seen visiting the forest and education centre, while tourists regularly walk through on bird-watching expeditions. The entrance is on the western side, and it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to walk up to it from the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Flora and Fauna
There are more than 50 indigenous tree species, 60 shrub species and 30 herb species found within the forest reserve. It is also home to around 80 different species of birds, and hoards of different animals such as boars, porcupines, squirrels, pangolins and bats. Large troops of monkeys can also be seen swinging through the trees.