The Udawattekele Forest Reserve is the historic royal park that crawls across the uppermost spine of the Kandyan plateau. It spans 257 acres and was once known as “Uda Wasala Watte” which means “the gardens above the palace.” It can be seen from almost and boutique hotel in Kandy town.
Ancient records state that there was once a brahmin called Senkada who dwelled in the caves in Udawattekele and that was how Kandy got one of its older names; Senkadagala. The cave was visible on a walk through the forest reserve until 2012 when it collapsed in a landslide. The gardens were used as a pleasure garden by the kings of Kandy and were forbidden to the public.
During the colonial era, the British used some of the land to construct a garrison and pathways that today are used and disused trails through the reserve. On the south-eastern side stands an abandoned British garrison now overgrown. It was attacked by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe’s forces in 1803 and the British troops manning the garrison were massacred.
After the Fall of the Kandyan Kingdom, the forest was subject to human activity including clearing and logging. Its condition deteriorated until it was declared a forest reserve in 1856 and made a sanctuary in1938.
Important Part of the Plateau
The Kandy lake is fed from springs that originate in Udawattekele. It also carries out air purification thanks to its elevation and placement above the city.
The forest is home to endemic trees such as Madatiya, Tel Kekuna and Ankenda. There is a dense spread of flora thus restricting sunlight from reaching the underground layer. Some of the species of creeper are over 200 to 300 years old.
Leave early morning on a hike and pick the most famous trail Lady Horton’s Drive. The reserve is only 10 minutes’ drive from Kandy town so you can easily get to it from a hotel like Kings Pavilion.
Intrigued by history, art and food, Lavinia Woolf is a writer who is passionate about the extraordinary and writes of the exhilarating and enchanting. Google+