Found just past the outskirts of Kandy, Udawattakele is a verdant expanse of forest that houses an array of fascinating wildlife. Intrepid explorers who venture into the forest will also discover ruins and relics from a bygone era. All in all, it’s a fantastic location to visit if you’re ever in Kandy.
Reaching the forest is a relatively simple affair and what’s more, there’s plenty of options available to you. If you’re travelling from Colombo, you can take the bus, hire a taxi or tuk-tuk, and even book a flight to reach Kandy and then a taxi to reach the destination. Of these, the bus is the cheapest option and you should arrive at Udawattakele in around 3-4 hours. If you’re staying in Kandy, things are even easier as the forest is only a few minutes’ walk away! Once you reach the entrance, you’ll be asked to discard any polythene you have on you after which you’ll be free to venture into the forest. From here, all you have to do is pick a trail and follow along, leaving you alone to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at your own pace.
One of the key draws of Udawattakele is its wildlife. Here in the forest, you’ll find a fascinating cast of characters, including rowdy toque macaques and the elusive fishing cat. Many species of avifauna can be found here too, making the forest an excellent birdwatching destination. Some of the rarer species include the endemic Layard’s parakeet and the nocturnal brown fishing owl. Various species of wet zone butterflies can also be found within the forest and can make for quite the attractive sight.
The depths of Udawattakele Forest also harbour a number of ancient ruins that must have been spectacular sights during the heyday of the Kandyan Kingdom. Notable sights include the Royal Pond and Lady Horton’s Road. There is also a plethora of ancient caves dotted around the forest. These were said to be used by Buddhist pilgrims and forest hermits centuries ago and make for excellent exploration opportunities during your visit to the forest. The Senkada Cave is of particular note and was once the meditative layer of a lonely forest hermit.