Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Udawatta Kele Sanctuary-2

Exploring the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary: A Hidden Gem in Sri Lanka

When it comes to natural wonders, Sri Lanka is a treasure trove. From pristine beaches to lush rainforests, this island nation has it all. One such hidden gem is the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, a breathtaking forest reserve located in the heart of Kandy. Let’s embark on a virtual tour of this enchanting sanctuary and discover its wonders.

The History and Significance

Udawatta Kele, which translates to “Forbidden Forest,” has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was once a part of the royal palace complex of the Kandyan Kingdom and served as a private garden for the kings and queens. Later, during the British colonial era, it was declared a forest reserve in 1856 to protect its biodiversity.

Today, the sanctuary spans over 257 acres and is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. It is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also holds immense cultural and religious significance. The forest is home to several Buddhist monasteries and hermitages, making it a revered pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

Flora and Fauna

As you step into the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing array of flora and fauna. The forest is a haven for biodiversity, housing over 400 species of plants, including rare orchids, ferns, and medicinal herbs. The towering trees create a dense canopy, allowing only dappled sunlight to filter through, creating a mystical ambiance.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the sanctuary offers a chance to spot a variety of animals. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive purple-faced langur, a primate endemic to Sri Lanka. You may also encounter giant squirrels, porcupines, and a wide range of bird species, including the vibrant Sri Lanka hanging parrot and the endemic yellow-fronted barbet.

Trails and Attractions

Exploring the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is a delight for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. The sanctuary offers several well-maintained trails that wind through the forest, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its beauty. Here are some of the must-visit attractions within the sanctuary:

  • Senkada Cave: This ancient cave, believed to be over 2000 years old, is a fascinating archaeological site. It features intricate rock carvings and inscriptions, providing a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich history.
  • Udawatta Kele Royal Botanical Garden: Nestled within the sanctuary, this botanical garden is a paradise for plant enthusiasts. It showcases a wide variety of exotic plants, including rare orchids and vibrant tropical flowers.
  • Udawatta Kele Bird Watching Point: For bird enthusiasts, this viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of the sanctuary, allowing you to observe the diverse birdlife in their natural habitat.
  • Udawatta Kele Meditation Center: Experience tranquility and inner peace at this serene meditation center nestled amidst the lush greenery of the sanctuary. It offers meditation retreats and spiritual guidance for those seeking solace.

Conservation Efforts and Sustainable Tourism

The Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is not only a place of natural beauty but also a testament to Sri Lanka’s commitment to conservation. The Department of Wildlife Conservation has implemented various measures to protect and preserve the sanctuary’s delicate ecosystem.

Visitors are required to follow strict guidelines to ensure minimal impact on the environment. These include staying on designated trails, refraining from littering, and avoiding any disturbance to the wildlife. By practicing sustainable tourism, we can help safeguard this pristine sanctuary for future generations.


The Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and spiritual significance. From its lush forests and diverse wildlife to its ancient caves and meditation centers, this sanctuary has something to offer for everyone.

As you explore the trails and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this enchanting forest reserve, remember to tread lightly and leave only footprints. Let us cherish and protect this natural wonder, ensuring its preservation for generations to come.

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