Udawattakele Forest Reserve
Kandy is one of the most picturesque cities on the island, same time it has secured a prominent place in the island’s history and culture. It is the cultural hub of the island and the home to the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island. Kandy sits 500m above sea level. It has a romantic man-made lake and a beautiful rainforest known as Udawattakele forest reserve within its borders.
Kandy is one of the most visited cities among the travellers on the island, especially it is a very popular city among foreign travellers, due to the tooth relic temple. Undoubtedly the tooth relic temple, also known as Sri Dalada maligawa is the most visited tourist hotspot in Kandy and Udawattakele forest reserve, as well as many other temples, follows.
Just behind the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the tooth) is the Udawattakele forest reserve. This green cover was used by the Kandyan kings in the past. The history of Udawattakele forest reserve goes back to 2nd Century BC (Period of King Gajaba). It was the official pleasure garden of the royal family during the heyday of the Kandyan kingdom.
Still, the pond which was used by the royal family can be seen in the Udawattakele forest reserve. Today the forest is being visited by many foreigners, and it is a place to have a trek during teh trip and enjoy the beautiful nature.
Udawattakele forest reserve is one of the best places to see the rich biodiversity on the island, Udawattekele is very popular as a place, where it is possible to witness many species of birds.
Usually, the Udawattakele forest reserve included in most bird watching tours of Sri Lanka, due to its richness of avian fauna species. For most leisure travellers Udawattakele forest reserve is a place to have a trek while enjoying the great scenery, midst the thick forest cover.
Udawattakele forest reserve is one of the best places for Bird watching on the island. Most of the resident birds in the region can be observed here. Brown-capped Babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillus), Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae), Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons) are some of the endemic bird species that can be observed here often. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca) that is very rarely seen in Sri Lanka, as well as many other places where it recorded great numbers earlier, can also observe in Udawattakele forest reserve, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher is also known as Three-Toed Kingfisher and Black-Backed Kingfisher in many parts of the world. There are around eighty bird species recorded in the forest including many endemic bird species.
The sanctuary adds much value to Kandy city, making Kandy, the only city with a rainforest within its borders. Even though the Udawattakele lies just behind the Temple of the tooth, it is inhabited by many animal species. All main primate species in the island can be seen here: toque monkey, Purple Faced langur and Grey langur can often observe here with Indian Muntjac, Porcupine, wild boar, black napped hare, deer, palm squirrels and some other species of coveting.
Since Udawattakele forest reserve is situated in a Buddhist city, it had been used by Buddhist monks in the past. The sanctuary had been a famous forest monastery in the mountains. There had been many monks living in the forest caves. It is believed that well known Senkanda Brahmin lived in the forest in the early days of the Kandyan kingdom. Even the city was called after the Brahmin Senkadagala purawaraya (City of the Senkada).
The ancient name of the forest reserve known to be “pleasure garden in the mountains”, Udawattakele forest reserve was established in 1856 and it was upgraded to a sanctuary in 1938. Udawattakele forest reserve is one of the popular places for eco-tourism on the island, there are many tracking paths in the forest and that can be used for a relaxing wandering through the jungle. Same time Udawattakele forest reserve attracts many bird lovers from all around the world owing to the abundance of resident bird species.
The number of flora species estimated to be 460 with trees and lianas. Nine of the flora species in the nature reserve are endemic to the region. Udawattakele forest reserve is a forest in the wet zone and has very high humidity. Even on the ground, it is wet result in the abundance of leeches.