Rajagiriya Marsh – Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka - Atlas Obscura

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka

Rajagiriya Marsh

This Colombo wetland is an unlikely wildlife haven just outside the capital city. 

Largely hidden on the edge of the Sri Lankan capital, this marsh in Rajagiriya is a wildlife haven that’s linked to the coast by a historically important canal system. The marsh is home to remarkable bird life, a large population of monitor lizards, numerous species of snakes, and an important cadre of rare fish. All this without leaving the city.

Fish species in the marsh and adjoining canal include the endangered Golden Raspbora and Red Barb. As for the birds, expect to see Pelican, Ibis, Purple Coot, Kingfishers, Grebes, and Cormorants as a matter of course, and potentially Red Wattled Lapwing, Ashy Prinia, and Common Babbler. Watch out for the spectacular show put on by fireflies. This unique wildlife corridor also occasionally allows saltwater crocodiles into the heart of the populated area.

The marsh is located along the Kinda Canal, one of the water bodies in the Colombo region that were joined together by Dutch engineers in the 18th century to form a series of canals. These canals were plied by flat-bottomed, hauled Padda Boats. Today the waterways are maintained for the purposes of drainage, and the authorities are toiling to control the spread of water hyacinth, an invasive species threatening this unique local ecosystem.

Know Before You Go

Rajagiriya is a suburb on the southeastern border of Colombo, in Sri Lanka’s official administrative capital, Sri Jayawardenapura. To reach the marsh from Rajagiriya, go down Lake Drive to Lake Gardens, past the Royal Park Condominiums, then take the last bridge over the Kinda Canal onto a small island.

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