Udawattekele Sanctuary Kandy Sri Lanka
Stretching beyond the Temple of the Tooth north of Kandy Lake, this forest was once reserved for the royal family. After the fall of the Kandyan kingdom in 1815, the British took over the forest area and began felling trees for their own use. However, when the condition of the forest began to deteriorate, they declared it a protected area in the mid-19th century.
Covering an area of 104 ha, Udawattekele is home to a great variety of flora and fauna. Endemic plants can also be seen here. Including a number of orchid species and other epiphytes such as ferns. Birdwatchers should be able to catch sight of golden-fronted leafbirds, yellow-fronted barbets and the yellow-browed bulbul among other species. There are also butterflies, squirrels, monkeys and reptiles to keep an eye out for.
It is possible to explore Udawattekele by following one of other numerous paths or trails, most of which are named after British governor’s wives. The 5-km Lady Horton’s Drive, which begins from inside the sanctuary, is one such path that takes in a good portion of the forest, including the pond where royalty once bathed. According to legend, gold coins lie beneath the surface of the pond, guarded by a red-eyed serpent. Alternatively, visitors can head for the hills from here. The forest also has rock-cut caves that are still used by Buddhist monks for meditation.
It is advisable to be cautious if visiting the forest independently and avoid a trip here after dark.