Places to visit in Udawalawe
Udawalawe, nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka, is a captivating destination renowned for its mesmerizing natural beauty and abundant wildlife. With its proximity to the Udawalawe National Park, this enchanting town offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike. Let’s delve into the enchanting places to visit in Udawalawe and get ready for an adventure like no other. At the heart of Udawalawe lies its crown jewel, the Udawalawe National Park. Hop on a thrilling jeep safari and venture deep into the park’s lush landscapes, where you’ll encounter majestic elephants, playful monkeys, graceful deer, and a myriad of bird species. For those fascinated by elephants, a visit to the Eth Athuru Sevana Elephant Transit Home is a must. This unique facility acts as a safe haven for orphaned and injured elephants, providing them with the care and rehabilitation they need. Udawalawe lies approximately 150 km southeast of Colombo. The journey from Colombo to Udawalawe takes approximately four hours by road. Embark on a scenic drive through picturesque landscapes, passing quaint towns and charming villages, as you make your way to this captivating destination. From the awe-inspiring Udawalawe National Park to the tranquil Udawalawe Reservoir and the heartwarming Eth Athuru Sevana Elephant Transit Home, this enchanting town promises an unforgettable journey.
1. Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park was established to provide a haven for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir, as well as to safeguard the reservoir’s catchment area. Udawalawe’s location on the boundary between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones results in a captivating blend of landscapes. The park predominantly features expansive plains, interspersed with mountainous areas that add a touch of grandeur. Before its designation as a national park, the area surrounding Udawalawe was used for shifting cultivation, a practice is known as chena farming. However, with the park’s establishment, the farmers gradually relocated, paving the way for the preservation of its natural wonders. Udawalawe National Park is not only a haven for wild animals but also a vital habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. As you explore the park, you’ll encounter a staggering array of species. Udawalawe is renowned as an important habitat for water birds and is home to a resident herd of approximately 250 elephants, attracted by the Udawalawe reservoir’s abundant resources. Venturing into Udawalawe National Park unveils a treasure trove of biodiversity. The park boasts an impressive recorded species list, including 94 plants, 21 fish, 12 amphibians, 33 reptiles, 184 birds, and 43 mammals. With its remarkable biodiversity, Udawalawe national park is one of the great places to visit in Udawalawe.
2. Elephant Transit Home
Situated within the captivating Udawalawe National Park, the Elephant Transit Home is not only a remarkable wildlife protection facility but also one of the top places to visit in Udawalawe.Situated within the captivating Udawalawe National Park, the Elephant Transit Home is not only a remarkable wildlife protection facility but also one of the top places to visit in Udawalawe. Established in 1995 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, this sanctuary serves a noble purpose by providing a safe haven for orphaned elephants. The Elephant Transit Home, established with the invaluable support of the Born Free Foundation, serves as a sanctuary for orphaned elephant calves. These young elephants, separated from their families due to unfortunate circumstances, find solace and care within the loving embrace of this facility. Witnessing these majestic creatures up close and learning about their stories of resilience and survival is a truly humbling experience. At the Elephant Transit Home, a dedicated team of caretakers ensures the well-being and growth of orphaned elephants. Once these gentle giants have reached a stage of strength and readiness to navigate their natural habitats, they are released into the jungle. Observing the heartfelt moment when these elephants return to their wild roots is an unforgettable sight, symbolizing the triumph of conservation efforts and the harmonious coexistence of humans and wildlife.
3. Udawalawe Reservoir
Udawalawe Reservoir is nestled at the bottom of the Udawalawe National Park. This remarkable reservoir offers not only a stunning natural landscape but also a gateway to explore the captivating places to visit in Udawalawe. The Udawalawe Reservoir came into existence by constructing an impressive long earth wall across the majestic Walawe River. This engineering marvel stretches over a distance of approximately 3.9 km, forming a stunning barrier that harnesses the river’s power. Beyond its primary function, the Udawalawe Dam serves an additional purpose as a source of hydroelectric power. This mighty dam powers three 2 MW units, which were commissioned in April 1969. It harnesses the energy of the flowing water to generate clean and sustainable electricity for the surrounding region. The reservoir’s water level is expertly controlled by five tainter gate spillways located at the eastern end of the dam. These spillways, along with two additional ones situated towards the centre of the dam, effectively manage the water flow. They ensure a balanced ecosystem, prevent flooding, and maintain a stable water level. Stretching across a length of approximately 8.6 km, the Udawalawe Reservoir is a sight to behold. Its maximum perpendicular width spans an impressive 7 km, offering panoramic vistas of its tranquil waters and picturesque surroundings. The breathtaking landscape is a testament to the beauty of nature’s craftsmanship.
4. Madunagala Hot Water Springs
Madunagala Hot Water Springs is an exquisite natural wonder nestled amidst the breathtaking paddy fields between Sooriyawewa and Ridiyagama. Let us unveil the secrets of this extraordinary destination and introduce you to the unmissable places to visit in Udawalawe. Our tale begins in the early 20th century when Leonard Woolf, the Assistant Government Agent of Hambanthota, first recorded the existence of the Madunagala Hot Water Springs. In his diaries, he documented a thrilling adventure through untamed jungles and perilous boat rides to reach this hidden gem. Fast forward to the early 1960s when the Uda Walawe development project transformed the Walawe Basin into a vast agricultural region. It was during this transformation that the Madunagala Hot Water Springs were rediscovered. The project brought immense changes to the area, and the once-forgotten springs resurfaced, offering a renewed sense of wonder and intrigue. During the 1970s, a tragic phenomenon occurred as dry seasons brought about a heartbreaking number of elephant calf deaths. Thirsty and desperate, these innocent creatures inadvertently fell into the well while attempting to drink from its soothing waters. Moved by this plight, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka advocated for change. As a result, the Mahaweli Authority constructed two wells, each encased within protective walls, specifically for males and females in the 1980s.
5. Ramba Viharaya
Located on the serene banks of the enchanting Walawe Ganga, Ramba Viharaya is a treasure trove of stories and ancient marvels. Step back in time to the year 1055, and you’ll find King Vijayabahu I seeking refuge in the sanctuary of Ramba Viharaya. This remarkable temple served as his secret hide-out for a staggering 15 years while he meticulously planned his epic battle against the Cholas. During the 10th to 12th centuries, Ramba Rajamaha Vihara emerged as the epicentre of religious and academic pursuits in Ruhuna. It held a distinguished position as the most important spiritual and educational institution of its time. Scholars, such as revered figures Rev. Piyadassi Thera and Rev. Mahanagasena Thera, graced its halls and surrounding temples, further cementing its legacy as a hub of knowledge and enlightenment. Delving deeper into its history, inscriptions dating back to the 1st century AD reveal a fascinating connection between Ramba Viharaya and King Gajabahu. These inscriptions suggest that the king generously donated funds collected as customs duties to enhance the temple’s splendour and prosperity. This act of royal benevolence underscores the importance of the temple within the community and its enduring legacy. So, Ramba Viharaya holds a special place in the southern province, along with other captivating places to visit in Udawalawe.
6. Waulpane Cave
Embark on a breathtaking adventure to Waulpane Cave, where time stands still and whispers of the past echo through the air. Nestled amidst sprawling wilderness, this hidden gem holds unexpected treasures, unravelling the mysteries of a civilization that thrived tens of thousands of years ago. Prepare to be awe-struck as you explore the ancient wonders that lie within. As you step into Waulpane Cave, prepare to be captivated by the mesmerizing “pencil columns” of stalactites and stalagmites. These magnificent formations, crafted over centuries by limestones, are a testament to the patience of nature. It is believed that an inch of these delicate structures takes a hundred years to grow, making them an extraordinary rarity that deserves protection from any harm that may befall them. This remarkable cave offers a window into the distant past, where you can walk in the footsteps of ancient civilizations. Archaeological evidence discovered within the depths of Waulpane Cave has astounded researchers, revealing insights into a bygone era. Imagine the stories these walls could tell, the lives lived and the triumphs achieved. It is a remarkable experience to witness firsthand the remnants of a civilization that thrived in this very spot so many millennia ago. Immerse yourself in the secrets of Waulpane Cave, while embracing the multitude of places to visit in Udawalawe.