Udawattekele – the Forbidden Forest

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Udawatta Kele - Pus Wela

Udawatta Kele – Pus Wela
licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 by Nyanatusita Bhikkhu

primary root main first article Kandy, with its historical, archeological and religious value, has protected Udawatta Kele Sanctuary even during the time when Kandy was the capitol of Sri Lanka. In fact, Kandy has been named “Senkadagala” in 1371, during the time of King Wickramabahu, because a Brahmin called “Senkada” had lived in a cave found in this forest. During the King’s reign, the palace was built within the sanctuary, as it proved safety and natural beauty. During foreign invasions, the King used to go into hiding into the areas.

Situated to the north of Dalada Temple, this forest is about 257 acres in area and has a large number of birds, animals and butterflies, belonging to various species.

The dual canopy found in this forest prevents the undergrowth In certain areas where less light reaches the ground.  The species of trees to be found here include Ankendhe (Acronychia pendunculata), Madhetiya (Adenanthera pavonia), Tel Kakuna (Aleurites moluccans), Karawale Kaballe (Antidesma bunis), Jak (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Valdel (Artocarpus nobillis), Unna (Bambusa spp.), Mavaywal (Calamus thwaitesil), Wana Sapu (Canangium odoratum), Davata (Crallia brachiata), Kahate (Careya arborea), Kithul (Caryota urens), Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), Dhuriyan (Durio zibethinaus), Mora (Democarpus longana), Nuga (Ficus fergusonil), Pihimbiya (Fillicium decipiens), Niyanthela (Gloriosa superba), Athemata (Gmelina arborea), Valla (Grinops walla), Mee (Madhuca longifolia), Atemba (Mangifera zeylanica), Naa (Mesua ferrea), Sapu (Michelia champaca), Malakondha (Myristica dactyloides), Wal Gammiris (Piper sylvestre), Naaimmbul (Pometia exima), Katuimmbul (Salmalia celba), Baddulla (Semecarpus obscura), Nawa (Strcullia balanghas), Mahogany (Sietenia macrophylla), Batathomba (Syzygium gardneri), Milla (Vitex altissima).

Of the animals living in Udwatte Kele, monkeys, porcupines, and a deer specie are the most common.

Birds and butterflies have an important place within the forest. The most often seen birds within the sanctuary include the Sri Lanka Yellow-fronted Barbet (Megalaima flavifrons), Sri Lanka Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacula caltropae), Sri Lanka Hanging Bird (Loriculus beryllinus) and Sri Lanka spot-winged thrush (Zoothera spiloptera), among a number of others.

Environment and Biological Importance

This serves as a catchment area for the supply of water to the inhabitants of the thickly populated Kandy town. The area called the ‘Na Kele‘ is also within the sanctuary and it also has very rare varieties of plants. It is believed that there had been a marble slab here, and that it had been used as a table for offerings of flowers at Dalada Maligawa. There is also a place called “Harrison’s Cemetery” where soldiers and chieftains were buried. Within the limits of the forest are found the Sri Dalaga Hermitage, Rama Viharaya, Gangaramaya and Keerthi Sri Pothgul Viharaya. The recent structes are Sri Visuddhi and Maithri Hermitages and the German Viharaya.

Other Places of Interest


Lady Horton Drive – The first road constructed through the sanctuary had been named after the wife of Governor Horton in 1824.

Kodimale – The highest point in the reserve is called Kodimale. It is believed to be the place where the Kings used to hoist their flags.

Lovers’ Walk – This beautiful path runs round the lake under a canopy of spreading trees. It is so named because you will see a number of couples walking hand in hand under this canopy.

The Pond – It is believed that during the times of the Sinhalese Kings, this pond was used as their bathing spot. It is believed that there is a golden pot at the bottom of this pond and that it comes up once a year and that the people who have tried to take it have drowned in the lake.

Digana Forest Reserve

Declared a reserve in 1992 by the Forest Preservation Department, Digana Forest is located along the Kandy-Mahiyangana Road at the Digana Rajawella new town. The Forest covers an area of 10 acres.

The Reserve was set up for the purpose of having an area for the people of the vicinity to study and identify rare plant species; as a resting place; propagate responsible methods of cultivation; provide training programs in rare plants for cultivation.

Within the Forest reserve a collection of over 100 different types of plants from other areas. There is also an Herbal Garden containing all rare varieties of herbal plants found here.

Farmers within the vicinity are being trained and educated in various farming methods such as cultivating on the slopes to prevent soil erosion and cultivating the minimum amount of land to get maximum yield. Mixed cultivation methods are also being introduced to show farmers how to get quick timber. It is a piece of model cultivation where the farmer gets food, income, timber, fruits, firewood and herbs.

Plants such as Bamboo, Madhuca, Longifolica and Kumbuk, that help preserve the supply of water, are grown within the forest environs.

There is an open-air theatre that can house about 600 people. Demonstration, lessons, dramas, training programs and lectures are conducted for farmers. In an area of about 2 acres, there are summerhouses and other facilities for people to relax.

Udawattekele is the only forest in the world found bordering a city. With the expansion of the city it has been reduced to the present size.

The change taking place outside continues to effect the serenity and charm of the forest while it continues to remain as a forbidden forest –

Also See

Map of Udawatta Kele

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Traveling Directions to Udawatta Kele

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