Udawatta Kele Sanctuary or the Royal Forest Park of Kandy is located on the hillside behind the Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
This forest covers approximately 257 acres and is considered a vital biological reserve for the populous city of Kandy.
Centuries back, the area around Kandy had been a rainforest and human settlements took place during the era of King Panditha Parakramabahu (1302-1326 AD) and in 1371 AD, King Wickramabahu made Kandy his kingdom.
During this era Kandy was called “Senkadagala”.
This name was born from a Brahmin named Senkanda, who lived in a cave in Udawattakele during that time.
During the reign of Kandyan, this wooded area behind the palace was called “Uda wasala watta” or the “Garden of the Upper Palace” frequented by the royal family and was not related to the people.
Since the fall of the kingdom of Kandyan in 1815, this forest area has started to lose its pristine condition due to the cutting down of trees.
The dense vegetation limits the sunlight to reach the ground.
The underground layer consists mainly of climbing plants that reach the top of the trees.
There is a giant 200 or 300 year old “Pus Wela” in the forest.
The important places of Udawatta Kele are the pond, the highest “Kodimale” peak, the Senkanda cave and the garrison cemetery.
There are also several Buddhist temples and hermitages within the forest reserve.
Some of the tree species found in the forest are “Acronychia pedunculata” (Ankenda), Adenanthera pavonina (Madatiya), Aleurites moluccana (Tel kekuna), Antidesma bunius (Karawala Kebella).