A popular base for visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Kegalle is situated on the road that links the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo with the sacred Buddhist city of Kandy. It clusters around the historic temple of Wewaladeniya Viharaya and lies at the heart of an agricultural region that’s renowned for its precious stones.
Things to do in Kegalle
Make the short drive from Kegalle to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which is home to the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. In addition to housing orphaned Asian elephants from the nearby forest, it also serves as a breeding centre and nursery. Visitors come to feed and help bathe the elephants in the waters of the Maha Oya.
Also in Pinnawala is the Iparanigama Theme Park, a living folk museum that showcases life in Sri Lanka during the 17th and 18th centuries. After seeing traditional crafts being designed at the Potter’s House and the Weaving Centre, continue to Mackwoods Tea Museum to learn about cultivation and taste some of the estate’s finest teas.
Kegalle also serves as a base for visiting Asupini Ella Falls, a 30-metre-high cascade near the historic town of Aranayake. Its name translates as “Horse Jump” and refers to an ancient fairytale in which a king’s wives jumped over the falls with their horses. You can follow the trail that leads through the bird-filled forest to the waterfall’s bathing area, which forms part of the scenic Maya Oya stream.
Getting around Kegalle
Kegalle is around an hour’s drive from Kandy and just under two hours from Colombo, with the Bandaranaike International Airport 1.5 hours away. Buses travelling on the Colombo to Kandy road stop in the town, while the nearest train station is in Panaliya, around 20 minutes away. Auto-rickshaws are available for getting around Kegalle.