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The Udawattakele Sanctuary

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The small, densely-forested Udawattakele Sanctuary is home to a huge variety of plants and animals, and offers a number of long, secluded paths for exploration. During the morning we spent there, we felt completely alone, almost frighteningly so. Amazing, considering the fact that Uduwattakele is basically in the middle of Kandy.

Cave Buddhist

The Sanctuary’s entrance is just a couple hundred meters past the Temple of the Tooth. Tickets cost around $6 for foreigners, but there’s a lot to see and you could spend hours on the various tracks. We chose a path which would bring us past cave temples and deep into the jungle.

Udawattakele is full of life. Huge trees block out the sun almost entirely, and are entwined by giant creeping vines. With over 80 types of birds, including endemic and threatened species, the park is famous as a bird-watcher’s paradise. Most of the mammals which inhabit the woods are nocturnal; fine by us, since I wasn’t eager to run into a wild boar or greater bandicoot rat. We did, however, see monkeys and a snake.

We had followed a path down the side of a hill overgrown with jungle shrubbery and spiderwebs to a cave sanctuary hollowed out of the stone. A quiet sense of evil pervaded the place, made worse by a creepy collection of art — the legs of a reclining Buddha posing without the rest of the body, an elephant molded into the wall peering out with one great white eye, and a disturbing sculpture of a starved human corpse abandoned half-done on the ground. A curtain hung over the entrance to the sanctuary and, after calling out to see if anyone was home, I steeled my nerves and swung it open. The only thing I saw was a small serpent retreating into the blackness.

Udawattakele isn’t just a sanctuary for nature, but also for the religious. A number of hermitages dot the grounds, and the cave sanctuary we found was built for crazy enlightened people who’ve decided to live on their own in the woods. I’m not sure anyone lives there now, but it’s certainly possible. We hurriedly got back onto the main path, before the monk could return home and invite us in for a cup of rice and snake meat.

If the noise and congestion of Kandy are getting to you, Udawattakele is a great place to escape and let your mind unwind. The fact that an area of such wild, pristine nature exists within the country’s second-biggest city is incredible.

Location on our Kandy Map
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/Udawattakele-Sanctuary
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Junlge in Sri Lanka
Nature in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Weird Jungle Fruit
Giant Jack Fruit
Stone Temple in Kandy
Scary Sri Lanka
Weird Buddha Legs
Thoughtful Monkey
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February 29, 2012 at 8:05 am Comments (0)

Monkeyshines with the Toque Macaques

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After a morning marked by clouds and humidity, it finally started to rain yesterday afternoon. We didn’t mind much. A nice shower provides a welcome breath of fresh air here in Kandy, and we were safe under the roof of our porch. But creatures who live out in the open don’t much appreciate the rain. They’re forced to seek shelter, and our veranda seems to be an irresistible refuge. It’s monkey time!

Three brave monkeys were the first explorers. Two youngsters and an older one appeared on the railing and soon approached us, while we were sitting on the balcony chairs. The little ones were skittish, but the large male was almost too bold. These are Toque Macaques, only found in Sri Lanka, and otherwise known as the Temple Monkeys. Indeed, when we visited the Temple of the Tooth, a large number of them were hanging around, listening to the chanting. They’re cultured.

They’re also endangered. Toque Macaques have been dying out at a alarming rate due to human encroachment on their lands. Their biggest predators are dogs. According to the IUCN Redlist, their population has decreased by 50% in just three generations.

But at least in the area immediately surrounding our house, there seem to be plenty of the cute, fluffy-haired guys. Minutes after the courageous explorations of the three conquistadors, a cadre of refuge-seeking monkeys arrived in force. Now a little skittish ourselves, we brought the chairs inside, shut the doors and sat down at the window to enjoy an hour of literal monkey business. These macaques are…

Crazy Cute! – They’d wrestle with and playfully attack each other. One monkey was leaping up to the railing, until another little bastard grabbed his tail, yanked him back down to the ground, and leaped upon him with glee. The babies are super-curious, and would come to the window to stare at us, staring at them.

Kinda Gross! – I’ve never seen so much shit and piss. They seemed to delight in peeing all over our balcony. Or pooping, and then wrestling in it. Nasty freaks!

A Little Creepy! – Eventually, we had about twelve macaques on the veranda, trying to gain entrance to our house. Tapping on the windows, gnawing on the door frame. It was like a cuter version of Night of the Living Dead.

After about an hour of excrement and play, they left. And although mopping up their pigsty wasn’t the funnest task in the world, we are hopeful that they’ll return. Who knows… the next day was supposed to be rainy, too!

Other Cute Monkeys

Monkey Munch
Toque-Macaque
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February 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm Comments (9)
The Udawattakele Sanctuary The small, densely-forested Udawattakele Sanctuary is home to a huge variety of plants and animals, and offers a number of long, secluded paths for exploration. During the morning we spent there, we felt completely alone, almost frighteningly so. Amazing, considering the fact that Uduwattakele is basically in the middle of Kandy.
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