Udawattekele Sanctuary
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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431 reviews
Very good

niroshan e
Sri Lanka25 contributions
Feb 2021
Udawattakele / Royal Forest of Kandy is just 15 minutes drive from Kandy city and it is famous for avifauna. It opens at 8am and closes at 5pm. You have to buy a ticket to enter the forest and carrying plastic items are prohibited. There are three meditation centers situated within the forest but needs permission to enter. Udawattakele has shaded foot pathways. The information center is situated at other end of the forest. It is better to some leech repellents in a wet day. There is a view point at Udawattakele where Kandy city is visible. Giant Liana is a common finding at this forest.
Written September 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Salt Spring Island, Canada36 contributions
Dec 2021 • Friends
We were not overly impressed having already been to places like Sinharaja rainforest for a hike and Udawawale national park for safari.

It’s close to Kandy central and we stopped off during a day exploring on tuk tuk.

The forest loop walk took us just over an hour. Whether or not this was due to timing/time of year we will never know but we really didn’t see much wildlife. We visited around 3pm so perhaps why. We heard some birds and perhaps some monkeys but saw none on our walk.

The trees etc are beautiful as always in Sri Lanka but we didn’t feel that with the walk was warranting of the ‘foreigner price’ of 1750 rupees for me and my wife included.

Also beware of many leeches on the walk. Would avoid wearing sandals like we did - silly from our side.

It’s nice enough but there are better walks in nature in Sri Lanka which are better maintained.
Written December 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chamath Fernando
Colombo, Sri Lanka223 contributions
Mar 2020 • Couples
The sanctuary is located only a short distance from the Kandy city. The guard at the gate makes sure no one takes in polythene, cigarettes and alcohol etc. You could indulge in the tranquil beauty of nature within the premises. Besides the chirping of numerous birds and sounds made by monkeys, you would not hear the hustle and bustle of the busy city. There are benches placed for the tourists to sit and rest up. There is also a view point of the city from the sanctuary. A must visit to a nature lover.
Written March 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Pulasthi W
95 contributions
Feb 2020
It only takes about 15 minutes to reach the gate entrance of Udawattakele from the Municipal junction in Kandy. You can find the place without a hassle. There are plenty of trails that you can take once you enter to the park which can be found on the map. The best time to visit the place is in the morning around 07.00 am. So that you may be able to witness more fauna than in the afternoon. If you are lucky, you may witness Endemic animals like toque macaque, jackal, porcupine and mouse deer. Obviously 460 species of plants, especially lianas, Shrubs, herbs and small plants are survived in the jungle.
There are 03 Buddhist temples are situated in this sanctuary namely they are Forest Hermitage, Senanayakaramaya and Tapovanaya. This is a good place to do meditation as well. If you want to ease of your mind this would be an ideal place. If so, you must visit this reserve in the morning as it gets crowded in the afternoon. When I visited the place, I had a feeling that this could have used to film lord of the ring as well. I would have even listened to some elfish music whilst on trial, if I had the earphones with me.
It is a must to visit the sanctuary, if you are in Kandy.
All in all, it is our duty to safeguard this wonderful nature reserve. Please do not throw trash into the wilderness.
Written February 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Prague, Czech Republic6 contributions
Dec 2019 • Couples
Beautiful part of Kandy, nice walk in quiet nature, not dfficult. But to pay 864 rupees for it? Come on....
Written December 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dublin, Ireland102 contributions
Aug 2014 • Family
After three days hill walking in the tea plantation of Sri Lanka at 3000mtrs we decided to have a rest day today in Kandy. That lasted till 12noon when the hotel manager suggested that we go to the rain forest for a walk. One tuk tuk later, We headed in with our map and local emergence phone, provided by the hotel. At first it was wonderful, huge trees covered in giant vines with monkeys and snakes all over the place. Ants and millepedes the size of your largest finger. Confidently guiding my family with the map i directed them deeper and deeper into the rain forest. The canopy was so dense that it made the forest floor dark. We stopped for a drink then I felt it! I though it was an ant bite, sharpe and pin point pain. I looked down and nearly dropped with the shock. There were five or six leeches on my leg and foot. Bear Grills I am not, I flicked them off and sprinted forward hoping to leave them behind us, the kids followed in panic as there father led the way. My Wife calm and collected walked along, laughing until she too realised that if you stood still the leeches were all over you. I looked down at the ground and the forest floor was alive with leeches. Every two or three inches there was a leech stretching it's neck upward, swaying hoping to find some pale Irish skin. We ran for 3 to 4km through deep jungle as the leeches could not latch on when you ran. In the panic and noise of us all getting eaten alive I realised that i missed jogging. This was fun, soft ground, great scenery and laughs (fear). Who knew, all I missed was the correct motivation. I wondered if they used leeches on usain bolt, no? Should have, they work. Well after a 30min run we got back to the path and onto civilisation. My 10yr old son looked up at me and said "Dad you have three leeches on your face" f€&@....... I shouted. I had read the map backwards and led us all into the jungle and off trail. Sorry guys! Two hours later in a super market I found the last leech in my runner, full and bloated. Kids want to move back to Eire!
Written August 27, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Christine V
Christine V
Kandy, Sri Lanka4 contributions
Feb 2012 • Solo
Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, often spelled as Udawattakele, is a historic forest reserve on a hill-ridge in the city of Kandy. During the days of the Kandyan Kingdom Udawatta Kele was known as "Uda Wasala Watta" in Sinhalese meaning, "the garden situated above the royal palace". The sanctuary is famous for its extensive avifauna. The reserve also contains a great variety of plant species, especially lianas, shrubs and small trees. There are several giant lianas. Many of small and medium size mammals that inhabit Sri Lanka can be seen here. Several kinds of snakes and other reptiles might also be seen. Udawatta Kele was designated as a forest reserve in 1856, and it became a sanctuary in 1938. The Sri Lanka Forest Department has two offices in the reserve, one of which (i.e. the one located at the southeastern entrance) has a nature education centre with a display of pictures, posters, stuffed animals, etc. Being easily accessible and containing a great variety of flora and fauna the forest has a great educational and recreational value. Groups of school children and students regularly visit the forest and the education centre. The forest is also popular with foreign tourists, especially bird watchers. The forest is also of religious importance as there are three Buddhist meditation hermitages and three rock shelter dwellings for Buddhist monk hermits.
It has been recorded that the Brahmin called Senkanda, from whose name the city's original name Senkandagalapura derives, lived in a cave in this forest. The rock-shelter or cave now known as the Senkandagala-lena is located on the slope above the temple of the tooth and can be visited. The legend says the brahmin brought a sapling of Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi here and planted it in the present day site of Natha Devale. It was used as a pleasure garden by the Kandyan kings. The forest was reserved for the Royal family and the pond situated in the forest was used for bathing. The public was restricted from accessing the forest hence the name Thahanci kele (Sinhalese for Forbidden forest).
During the colonial era some of the land near the Temple of the Tooth was used to build the Kandy garrison cemetery. In 1834 Governor Horton built a path, Lady Horton's drive, within the forest in remembrance of his wife. Henry W. Cave mentions the trail is about three miles long. Lady McCarthy's drive, Lady Torrington's road, Lady Anderson's road, Gregory path, Russell path, Byrde lane and Lady Gordon’s Drive on which the Trip Advisor listed Kandy Cottage is located are the other named walks in the forest. Some are abandoned and overgrown now.
Udawatta Kele is situated on a hill ridge stretching between the Temple of the Tooth and the Uplands-Aruppola suburbs. The highest point of the ridge (7°17'55.41"N, 80°38'40.04"O) is 635 meters above sea level, and 115 meters above the nearby Kandy Lake. The sanctuary contains three Buddhist forest monasteries i.e. Forest Hermitage, Senanayakaramaya and Tapovanaya, and three cave dwellings for Buddhist monks, i.e. Cittavisuddhi-lena, Maitri-lena and Senkadandagala-lena. The sanctuary also acts as a catchment area for the supply of water to the city of Kandy.
The visitors' entrance is located on the western side of the forest, about 15–20 minutes walking from the Temple of the Tooth. Directions: From the Temple of the Tooth, go north along the D.S. Senanayaka Veediya road and after half a kilometer turn right at the post office near the Kandy Municipality, and follow the road up the hill. The entrance is on the right side of the Tapovanaya Monastery. It is only a 700m pleasant walk from the Kandy Cottage if you’re accommodated there. There is parking space for cars and vans near the entrance, and a refreshment stall. The entrance fee for Sri Lankan visitors is Rs. 30,-; the fee for foreign visitors is Rs. 570,-. Sri Lankan visitors have to register and leave their identity card at the entrance. Amorous unmarried couples are not allowed to enter the forest. The shady lovers' walk, which runs along the banks of the royal pond, is the most popular walk.
During rainy weather there are many leeches lurking along paths that will attempt to suck blood from the feet and legs of unwary visitors. Mosquito repellent or herbal balms such as Siddhalepa will protect against them.
The vegetation of the park comprises dense forest, mostly abandoned plantations and secondary formations. Of the 460 plant species that have been recorded in the forest, 135 are species of tree and 11 are lianas. These include 9 endemic species. The forest features an emergent layer, a canopy and an understory. Because of the dense two upper layers, understory is not present everywhere in the sanctuary, especially in areas with the invasive Peru balsam tree, (Myroxylon balsamum) Mahogany trees, (Swietenia macrophylla) and Devil's Ivy, (see Invasive Species section below).
A great variety of species are found in the forest. Some common native tree and shrub species are: Acronychia pedunculata (Sinhalese: "Ankenda"), Artocarpus nobilis ("Wal Del"), Artocarpus heterophyllus ("Kos"), Caryota urens ("Kitul"), Aglaia elaeagnoidea ("Puwanga"), Bombax ceiba ("Katu imbul"), Canarium zeylanicum, Cinnamomum verum ("Kurundu", cinnamon), Ficus virens, Filicium decipiens ("Pihimbiya"), Goniothalamus gardneri, Haldina cordifolia, Hunteria zeylanica, Mallotus tetracoccus, Mesua ferrea ("Na", ”Iron-wood”), Michelia champaca ("Sapu"), Mangifera zeylanica ("Atamba"), Neoclitsea cassia ("Dawul Kurundu”, Wild Cinnamon), Glycosmis sp., Litsea quinqueflora, Micromelum minitum ("Wal Karapuncha"), Pavetta blanda, Psychotria nigra, Vitex pinnata ("Milla") and Walsura gardneri.
There are many vine and liana species growing in the Udawattakele forest, most notable is the giant creeper Entada rheedii ("Pus Wel"). Some other species are Anamirta cocculus ("Tittawel”), Diploclisia glaucescens, Hiptage bengalensis, Hypserpa nitida ("Niriwel"), Morinda umbellata ("Kiri-wel"), and Paramignya monophylla. The Udawatta Kele is probably the best place in Sri Lanka for seeing full-grown rattan palms, ''Calamus'' (palm), of which there are at least two species. Some of the climbing palms here are over 25 meters long, growing up and over trees. Elsewhere in Sri Lanka rattan palms are often cut down when young for making rattan, but in the Udawattakele they are well protected.
Orchid species, mostly epiphytic, include Cymbidium bicolor, Luisa teretifolia, Polystachya concreta, Thrixspermum pulchellum, Tropidia curculigoides and Vanda testacea.
The sanctuary also is home to many species of non-flowering plants, Pteridophytes, such as the large ferns growing on steep banks along the shady road on the eastern side of the hill ridge.
The tree species Alstonia macrophylla, introduced from Southeast Asia, is a common pioneer in previously cleared areas but poses no great threat to biodiversity because seeds sprout only in sunny, open areas, and when the trees get large, native shrubs and trees grow beneath them to eventually take their place.
Udawatta Kele is a famous birdwatching site. About 80 avifaunal species have been recorded from the sanctuary. The endemic bird species are Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae), Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons), and Brown-capped Babbler Pellorneum fuscocapillus. The rare Three-toed Kingfisher Ceyx erythacus has been observed occasionally. Sri Lanka Myna, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Blue-winged Leafbird, Spotted Dove, Emerald Dove, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Brown-headed Barbet and Black-backed Kingfisher are common in the forest. Red-faced Malkoha and Kashmir Flycatcher are two birds listed as threatened that can be found in Udawatta Kele.
Despite the forest reserve being completely surrounded by the Kandy town and its suburbs, there are many kinds of mammals, most of which are nocturnal. Mammals that can be seen the sanctuary are the endemic Pale-fronted Toque Macaque (Macaca sinica aurifrons), Mouse deer (Moschiola meminna), Porcupine (Hysterix indica), Indian Muntjac, Boar, Asian Palm Civet, Golden Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet, Ruddy Mongoose, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Greater Bandicoot Rat, Dusky Palm Squirrel, Indian Pangolin, Greater False Vampire Bat, Slender loris and Indian Flying-fox.
Several kinds of reptiles also inhabit the forest: There are snakes such as the Common hump-nosed pit viper (Hypnale hypnale), Green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta), Green pit viper (Trimeresurus trigonocephalus), Banded kukri (Oligodon arnensis), Boie's rough-sided snake (Aspidura brachyorrhos) Sri Lanka Cat Snake (Boiga ceylonensis), Oriental Ratsnake (Ptyas mucosus) and Spectacled cobra (Naja naja). Lizards that can be seen include the Green Forest Lizard (Calotes calotes), Sri Lanka Kangaroo-lizard (Otocryptis wiegmanni) and the Whistling lizard (Calotes liolepis). There are also several species of skinks, geckos, frogs and toads. Some Sri Lanka wet zone butterflies are also present.
The forest reserve has suffered from encroachment by squatters and land grabbing by surrounding land owners, but the forest ecosystem is now mainly threatened by invasive, introduced plant species that increasingly crowd away native plant and tree species and the animals and insects that live on them. These invasive species have no natural enemies such as diseases or insects and animals that feed on them and therefore grow and multiply much more rapidly than in their native habitats. Three introduced species pose the biggest threat to the natural biodiversity of the Udawatta Kele forest: The highly invasive Peru balsam tree Myroxylon balsamum from South America is the first. Dense stands of thousands of young trees can be seen along the roads in the eastern and northern side of the forest. The Pothos or Devil's Ivy, Epipremnum aureum, creeper from the Salomon Islands is the second major threat. In the Northwestern and Western part of the reserve, around the royal pond and near the presidential palace and Temple of the Tooth, the creepers completely cover several hectares of the forest floor. They also climb high up tree trunks, with their large leaves blocking the light for other species underneath. The creepers are gradually spreading further to the east and south. Some years ago they were even planted on road banks elsewhere in the forest. Mahagoney, Swietenia macrophylla, a timber tree from South America, is also quite invasive and disrupts the forest's diverse ecology. The Glow Vine, Saritaea magnifica, from Brazil is another invasive species, and covers several trees near the royal pond and near the Maitri cave. In some areas Aglaoneama communatum, Philippine Evergreen, is covering the forest floor and road banks.
Severely degraded forest areas are situated between the Temple of the Tooth, the forest department office at the western entrance, and the slopes northeast of the royal pond. A few patches of unspoiled forest, with mostly native species of trees and shrubs, are remaining on the northern and eastern sides of the forest. There is also a patch of native forest on the southeastern side, near the forest department office at the southeastern entrance.
The Forest Department has no management plan to maintain the biodiversity of the forest reserve and is not taking any action to curb the spread of and eradicate invasive species. Necessary control measures would be the uprooting of seedlings, collecting and destroying seeds, and removal of mother trees and creepers.
In recent years the population of wild boar, of which there were none or very few in the forest until the early 2000s, has also increased dramatically due to the absence of predators. The boars' digging of the soil for seeking food and making mud-bathing places, causes soil erosion on hill sides and damage to the undergrowth.
Written February 15, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Brussels, Belgium170 contributions
Feb 2018 • Couples
How to get there by foot: Indentify Kandy municipality council on the map and walk there. The building will be on your left, you continue up on that main street. A panel will then point you in the direction of the entrance (always straight on anyway).
The entrance fee is only 30LKR for Sril Lankan people. But for the "foreigners", who are of course very wealthy, it is 660LKR, which is "only" 22 times the normal price. Wouhou!
Nevermind... you are now in the forest, and you can enjoy the walk. We spend 2 hours and saw lots of deers and monkeys. However, it is a forest, nothing special, and you can generaly walk in any forest in the world for free. The only reason we went there is because we had so extra time to spend in Kandy, but if you skip it, you won't miss anything.
PS: for the amount of money they get from the "foreigners", they could at least clean the toilets (just after the entrance, on the left). They are absolutely disgusting and have never been clean, that's for sure.
Written February 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Taiwan26 contributions
Feb 2018 • Solo
I travelled in the late morning when there are people scattered in the park. A lone local man wandering around and asked me if I have water. Quite strange already. Then he followed me into a small dirt trail to a view point (with no view actually). Luckily there were a couple there. After that he followed me to like every single corner! And he seems to know the park really well so that he knew to take a short cut when I walked very fast to try to get rid of him. I made sure I was not mistaken by waiting and let him pass and retrieved to the crossing and saw him coming back. I did not know what he wanted. Finally I went with other travellers and exit the park. This totally ruined my experience of the park. I wrote this to warn other female solo traveller especially physically small like me to be very careful when you visit this park.
Written February 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kerry C
Adelaide, Australia78 contributions
Feb 2016 • Solo
This park is just incredible. The rangers at the front who sell tickets are scammers through. The entrance fee is 650 rupees. So I counted out 6 x 100 rupee notes and one 50 rupee note. They said ok and gave me a map (no ticket) but just 30 seconds after walking off they called me back and said that I was short 100 rupees. While my back was turned they pocketed one of the 100 rupee notes leaving only 5 on the counter. It was pointless to argue so I just handed over one more.

Despite this the sanctuary is beautiful and well worth a visit. It's 250 acres just behind the Temple of the Tooth. Head west from the Temple up the street with the Pizza Hut and the Queen hotel on the corner. Go about 400m and turn right at the first set of traffic lights. Follow the winding road up the hill (easily walkable).

The rainforest is pristine as it has been preserved by the Kings since the 1200s. The walking trails are well marked and easy. There are troops of monkeys which show no interest in people and which, unlike elsewhere in SE Asia are not aggressive and just walk calmly past you as if you're not there. It's amazing to walk past a whole family of monkeys so close (within a metre) while they mind their own business, carrying their babies and grooming each other with none of the aggressive behaviour you usually see in monkeys that live this close to humans. In a 2 hour visit I also saw wild boar and tiny deer. It's so peaceful and lovely and incredible to think it's an easy 20 min walk from Kandy city. Just closely watch what you pay as you go in!
Written February 21, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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