Since the events unfolded, of a poor local raising a rebellion against the colonial rulers, his bravado has become legend. Uthuwan Kanda, the mountain crowned with a striking rock outcrop, remains a symbolic and formidable landmark of this legend in Mawanella of the Kegalle District.
A turn off ahead of the Uthuwan Kanda town, the road falls beside a vast paddy field and temple to reach the pockets of forest that gather at the foot of Uthuwan Kanda. Even from a distance its distinct rock crest looms above all else in the region. The legend of Saradiel, though well over a century old, has only snowballed with the passage of time, even inspiring a model village that serves as a reenactment of the events and a way of life during that time. Born in 1832 to parents Adasi Appu and Pichohami, Saradiel grew up in Uthuwan Kanda. During his childhood days, his father a catholic having heard the many stories of Robin of Sherwood from the missionary fathers, would return home to relate the tales to his five children including an impressionable Saradiel. The youngster grew up to be a boisterous teenager, with notoriety tailing in his wake.
In his adolescent years Saradiel remained behind with his mother while his father moved away with the remaining siblings. His schooling at the temple was often interrupted due to scuffles with school mates as he stood up to class differences. His escape from his second placing at Illukwatta temple, smuggling what was believed to be a rare oil possessing supernatural powers, led him to Colombo. Saradiel soon found work in the British army barracks where he picked up English. Ever the restless spirit, Saradiel was once more scheming an escape route, this time with alms and ammunition to boot.
Saradiel returned to his birthplace in Uthuwan Kanda with the intent of revolting against the social injustices meted out by the colonial rulers and those partisan to them. His gathering of staunch followers included his most loyal henchman Mummale Marrikar. For over a decade Saradiel lived a life of scheming and thieving, looting rich merchants particularly coffee cultivators. However, it is said that throughout his life Saradiel remained poor spreading his spoils amongst those in need. With a felony count of over 100, the colonialists branded him a villain and a traitor to the Queen of England. Artful in eluding capture, Saradiel in contrast was hailed a local hero amongst the local folk and dubbed Sura Saradiel for his Machiavellian ways. Uthuwan Kanda became his famous hideout where he enjoyed a view of all the surrounding villages and the Colombo-Kandy road that was frequented by bullock carts and carriages. These wheels bearing commodities served as prime targets for Saradiel and his clan.
those who alight at the rock surface are rewarded with a view that is easily enviable
Many today make the climb to the pinnacle of Uthuwan Kanda, for a taste of adventure and legend. In the vicinity is a model village christened ‘Saradiel Village where visitors can take a tour and learn about an olden day lifestyle and the story of Saradiel. The climb to the top of Uthuwan Kanda calls for hearty exertion along an uphill and whimsical trail. Toiling along a path, shrouded in thick undergrowth and a haphazard arrangement of submerged rocks, those who alight at the rock surface are rewarded with a view that is easily enviable. At over 1,400 feet, a patchwork of endless greenery gives way to ranges of mountains that soar along a murky horizon. Below, the Colombo-Kandy road ribbons alongside a paddy field. It is easy to see why Saradiel would have favoured this spot not only as a hideout, but to wield his wily schemes as well.
Today Uthuwan Kanda is synonymous with the legend of Saradiel. The tale of his heroics may or may not have acquired a few shades of colour along the way, but as the story goes, he was deemed as impossible to kill and only a golden bullet could take his life. The reward for a tip off of his whereabouts reached as high as 150 pounds.
Another site linked to Saradiel is Bo Ella, a stream formed by Maha Oya. While fleeing from his pursuers, it is said that Saradiel made a perilous leap across the water to reach the opposite bank. A feat that only Saradiel was known to execute and none else. This site is still identified by locals of Uthuwan Kanda. Living life on the edge, it was inevitable that Saradiels would meet a tumultuous and abrupt end. It was one amongst his inner circle, Sirimala, who betrayed Saradiels whereabouts and his pursuers closed in on him and captured him at last. He was executed by hanging in 1864 along with his closest friend Mummale Marrikar who remained beside him till the end.
Saradiel may have led a short and turbulent life yet his legend has outrun the course of a lifetime.
The story of Saradiel forms the very fabric of the culture and history of Uthuwan Kanda. There are plays, numerous books, and films that portray his life story. Visitors continue to trace the footsteps of a legend as they climb to the rock outcrop of Uthuwan Kanda to catch a glimpse of the world as seen through the eyes of Saradiel.