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Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Description

Nestled atop a hill ridge in the historic city of Kandy lies the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, a 104-hectare haven of biodiversity. This sanctuary, once a royal garden, now serves as a vital lung for the city and a testament to Sri Lanka's rich natural heritage. Udawatta Kele's journey from a royal garden, known as "Uda Wasala Watta," to a public sanctuary is fascinating. This transition highlights the changing attitudes towards nature conservation and public access to natural spaces.

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Udawatta Kele is a botanical paradise boasting many plant species. The sanctuary's diverse flora, including numerous lianas, shrubs, and small trees, forms a green canopy with life. The sanctuary is home to various small and medium-sized mammals native to Sri Lanka, offering visitors a unique opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural habitat. Bird enthusiasts will find Udawatta Kele a haven with its extensive avifauna. The sanctuary's varied birdlife adds to its charm and ecological significance.

Beyond its natural beauty, Udawatta Kele serves an important educational role. Its accessibility makes it a perfect outdoor classroom for students and nature enthusiasts. At the heart of the sanctuary lies the Nature Education Centre, a hub of learning that showcases the local wildlife through various exhibits, including pictures, posters, and stuffed animals.

The sanctuary also holds religious importance, with several Buddhist meditation hermitages and rock shelter dwellings for monk hermits, reflecting the intertwining of nature and spirituality in Sri Lankan culture.
A network of trails, including the historical Lady Horton's Drive, invites visitors to explore the sanctuary's natural wonders. These paths offer a journey through the heart of the forest. Udawatta Kele is steeped in legend, with tales like the Senkandagala-lena adding a mystical dimension to the sanctuary's allure.

Efforts to conserve Udawatta Kele's natural beauty are ongoing. These initiatives ensure the sanctuary remains a bastion of biodiversity for future generations. The British colonial era left its mark on the sanctuary, with various named walks and remnants of a garrison post, blending history with nature. The Sri Lanka Forest Department plays a crucial role in managing and preserving Udawatta Kele, balancing conservation with public enjoyment.

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