Distance from Kele: 9.1km     Travel Time: 20 min

Yala National Park is the second largest and most visited National Park in Sri Lanka. It borders the Indian Ocean and consists of 5 Blocks of which Blocks 1,2 & 5 are open to the public. Situated in South East Sri Lanka, it spans the Southern and Uva Provinces. The park covers 979 square kilometres and is located about 300km from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and a National Park in 1938. It is best known for having the highest population density of Leopards in the world and is pivotal to the conservation of the Sri Lankan Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard & Aquatic Birds. Yala is home to 44 varieties of mammals & 215 species of birds. Amongst its most famous residents are Sloth Bears, Sambar Deer, Leopards, Elephants, Golden Jackals, Spotted Deer, Peacocks & Crocodiles.

Lunugamvehera/Veheragala National Park

Distance from Kele: 19.8km     Travel Time: 40 min

Lunugamvehera, located in the Monaragala District in the Uva Province, is 261km from Colombo. The Park was established in 1995 with the intent of establishing an important catchment area for the Lunugamvehera Reservoir and as a sanctuary for the wildlife in the area. The park also acts as an elephant corridor between Yala National Park (on the East) and Udawalawe National Park (on the West) and facilitates the movement of elephants from one to another. The park is rich in biodiversity and is a favourable habitat for large herds of Elephants and Wild Buffalo, in addition to 43 species of mammals.

Bundala National Park

Distance from Kele: 38.7km     Travel Time: 55 min

Bundala National Park is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds, situated 245km southeast of Colombo, in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the Greater Flamingo, which migrate in large flocks.

Bundala was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and re-designated as a National Park in 1993. In 1991, Bundala became the first wetland to be declared as a “Ramsar” site in Sri Lanka.

Bundala National Park has also been identified as an Important Bird Area in the South Indian and Sri Lankan wetlands. 324 species of vertebrates, including 32 species of fish, 15 species of amphibians, 48 species of reptiles, 197 species of birds and 32 species of mammals have been recorded in the National Park.

 Udawalawe National Park

Distance from Kele: 76.6km     Travel Time: 1hr 48min

Udawalawe National Park is the 3rd most visited National Park in Sri Lanka. It is situated 165km away from Colombo. The varied habitats in Udawalawe make it home to a diverse spectrum of animals. However, Elephants tend to take the spotlight and a herd of 600-700 is believed to inhabit the Park. Udawalawe National Park is home to more species of Sri Lankan Wildlife which include the endemic Toque Macaque and the Sri Lankan Leopard (though the latter is seen very rarely). Another elusive inhabitant is the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear. Numerous species of birds (some of which are endemic), fish, reptiles and amphibians can also be seen here.

Kataragama Kovil

Distance from Kele: 5km     Travel Time: 12 min

Kataragama Kovil is located in the Monaragala District in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka. It is one of the few religious sites in Sri Lanka that is venerated by the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims & the Vedda people. For most of the past millennia, it was a jungle shrine. The shrines and nearby Kiri Vehera are managed by Buddhists, the shrines dedicated to Teyvanai and Shiva are managed Hindus and the mosque is managed by Muslims.

Up until the 1940s, a majority of the pilgrims were Tamil Hindus from Sri Lanka and South India who undertook an arduous “Padayatra” or “pilgrimage on foot”. Since then, most pilgrims have been Sinhala Buddhists and the cult of God Kataragama has become most popular amongst the Sinhalese people.

Priests at this temple are known as “Kapuralas” and are believed to be descendants of the Vedda people.

Kiri Vehera

Distance from Kele: 5 min     Travel Time: 12 min

Kiri Vehera is one of the most prominent sites of worship in Sri Lanka. Every year, large numbers of Buddhists visit this majestic temple to pay homage to Lord Buddha. The temple is in fact included in the 16 sacred Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites of Sri Lanka. This list, which is known as “Solosmasthana” is visited by Buddhists with ardent devotion. The beautiful stupa is believed to have been built by King Mahasena, who was a regional ruler in Sri Lanka.

The temple is located in the town of Kataragama, which is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Hindus and the Vedda community. The Kataragama Raja Maha Vihara attracts many devotees every day. Those who visit the temple seldom miss out on a visit to Kiri Vehera as well, as they are located just 800m apart.

Sella Kataragama

Distance from Kele: 10.6km     Travel Time: 24 min

Sella Kataragama is a small town lying on the banks of the Menik Ganga about 4km North West of Kataragama. It has been weaved into the legend of God Kataragama as much as the city of Kataragama itself.

Legend has it that God Kataragama (also known as Skanda Kumaraya, Murugan, Arumugam, Kandasami, Subrahmanya etc.) came to Sri Lanka after a row with his wife Thevani. He is said to have landed in the Southern part of the island and made Wedisitikanda, near Kataragama, his adobe.

He is said to have seen a beautiful 16-year old local girl called Valli, who was adopted by the chieftain of the Vedda tribe who lived in the area. Skanda, unable to win her love, consulted his brother (God Ganesh) for help. Finding out that Valli feared elephants, a plan was devised for Ganesh to appear in the form of an elephant and Skanda to come to her rescue. Before turning into an elephant, Ganesh gave Skanda a pot of water and asked him to pour it on him after the planned attack to turn him back into a human. When Skanda approached Valli in the form of an old man at Sella Kataragama, she was choking on some food. In his eagerness to help her, he dropped the pot of water. At the same time, Ganesh appeared in the form of an elephant and scared her. Skanda offered her help in exchange for marriage. Valli, having no choice, consented to marry him. Ganesh unfortunately had to remain in his elephant form due to Skanda’s mishap with the water. The newly wedded couple is believed to have lived in Sella Kataragama.


Distance from Kele: 5.3km     Travel Time: 15 min

Wedisitikanda is a rocky mountain located about 3.5km from the famous Kataragama Kovil. Superseded in popularity only by the Kataragama Kovil & Sella Kataragama, Wedisitikanda is a must-visit on the pilgrimage itinerary of most devotees. Although not much of its history is known, this mountain is buried deep in folklore connected to God Kataragama.

It is said that Prince Dutugemunu made a vow to God Kataragama to make a Grand Kovil once he triumphs over the invader Elara, who was ruling from Anuradhapura. After the war, the King came to Kataragama and on his way, met God Kataragama at the top of this mountain. The King asked him where he would like the new shrine to be built. God Kataragama fired an arrow and requested the shrine to be built where it landed. The arrow landed where the Kataragama Kovil stands today.

 Sithulpawwa Temple

Distance from Kele: 13.2km     Travel Time: 33 min

In ancient times, Sithulpawwa was known as “Chiththala Pabbatha” or “the hill of the quiet mind”. The nature of such a name is personified by its significance as an ancient Buddhist monastery dating back to the reign of King Kavantissa in the 2nd Century B.C. The monastic complex includes several religious sites such as a cave with paintings over 2000 years old and a temple atop a resident rock that rises above the surrounding wilderness.

Sithulpawwa is located deep within the natural habitats of Yala National Park. It is no stranger to wildlife such as elephants and leopards that frequent the area. Surrounded only by sounds of the wilderness and temple chants, a journey to Sithulpawwa is a peaceful escape that is fitting for its name.

Kirinda Temple

Distance from Kele: 33.2km     Travel Time: 54 min

Kirinda, known as the town of wildlife, is a small port located on the South Coast of Sri Lanka. It is about 270km from the city of Colombo and about 10km from the South of the ancient religious city, Tissamaharama.

Visited by many pilgrims, tourists and naturalists, Kirinda is truly a scenic place. The ancient temple which attracts the pilgrims, is sited atop a rocky outcrop from which you can obtain magnificent views of the desolate coast, with its long stretch of sand dunes and the ocean beyond. On a clear day, the lighthouse on the Great Basses Reef appears like a needle in the distance.

 Tissamaharama Temple

Distance from Kele: 33.2km     Travel Time: 54 min

The Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka. It was one of the four major Buddhist monasteries established in Sri Lanka after the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera to the country. The site was consecrated by Lord Buddha, who spent some time there, meditating with 500 arhats (individuals who have reached enlightenment), during his third visit to the island.