Nalanda Gedige

Map
Crew : 5

Transportation : Car

Duration : 1-2 Hours

It was a sunny Saturday and I were driving on A9 from Habarana to Kandy with my Family. On the way around Naula, I remembered that one of my friends had posted a photo of Nalanda Gedige, which is located somewhere nearer. All in the car agreed to take a break and visit Nalanda Gedige. So my brother turned on GPS in his mobile and guided to the destination.

The by road was in good condition and it is easy to find the place even without GPS. There is a fairly large area under the shade of trees for vehicle park. There was a security hut and an information center, but couldn’t find anyone to inquire about the entrance ticket. After a few minutes of search we found a notice that this attraction has No Entrance Fee!
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So we walked under a stone gate frame to enter a long shady path with carved boulder borders. There is a sign post at the end of the path. The original location of this structure was somewhere else and they had to relocate it due to the construction of Bowathenna reservoir under Mahaweli Development Project.
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This was build between 8-10 AC with “Pallawa” architectural features. It believed that the original location of Nalanda Gedige is the Geographically central point of Sri Lanka.
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There are three main parts, A pagoda (Dagaba), A bo Tree and a Kovil like structure as a Viharageya which is named as “Gedi ge”. It is a stone made building with a half cylindrical stone roof surrounded by a covered hall with stone pillars supporting a(should be wooden) roof. Only one staircase of entrance with “Korawakgal” for railings and plain “Sandakada pahana”.
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I were amazed by the creativity and skillfulness of the craftsmen as well as the people who relocated such a complicated structure. There were three statues and a guard stone inside Gedige, One statue of a god and Two statues of lord Buddha where one was missing the upper part. We spent another half an hour admiring the surrounding and started our journey back to Kandy.

Uthuwankanda

map1Crew: 7

Transportation: Two Cars

Duration: Half day (May need one day if you are visiting Saradiel Village too)

 

There was a sudden suggestion to climb Uthuwankanda, which is famous for being the hideout for a local bandit, Saradiel. Since it is a few kilometer drive from Kandy Uthuwankanda was perfect for a mini hike and i too decided to join. But before the hike i thought of refreshing my memories about the stories of Saradiel.

Dekirikewage Saradiel AKA “Uthuwankande Sura Saradiel” is a bandit who later became a gang leader. People refer him as the “Robin Hood of Sri Lanka” as he used to rob from the rich and distributed them among the poor. He was born in 25th of March, 1932 as the eldest of a family where father was a tobacco merchant. His father was from “Haldanduwana” (in Dankotuwa area) and mother was from Uthuwnkanda (Mawanella Area). It is said that he studied in Illukgoda temple which was ended by Saradiel assaulting a boy from a rich family who was related to the Vidane (A hereditary leader post in colonial system who usually is from a wealthy, influential family) and being arrested. Young Saradiel had formed a gang to kidnap a wealthy merchant in Kandy, called “Bawa” and robbed him after cutting half of his mustache. Saradiel managed to escape to Colombo after distributing the things he robbed among villagers.

He then joined the Ceylon Rifle Regiment cantonment in Slave Island as a Barrack Boy and learned to used weaponry from soldiers. Later he was dismissed after caught in act of theft from the Barracks. Even then he managed to come back to Uthuwankanda with some stolen weapons from the barracks and continued his work of crime as a highway robber. It is said that Saradiel killed a Man called “Natakoti Chettiyar” during his robberies and arrested but then released due to lack of evidence. Then a warrant was issued for the arrest of Saradiel after a robbery in Molligoda Walawwa (Walawwa is a word used to refer the house of wealthy, which means mansion).  He thought to seek protection of his father and went to Chillaw. But his father was disappointed about Saradiel and refused to provide protection. So he came back but police arrested him near Pillawatte in Negombo after a tip off. Saradiel managed to stab the police informant during the arrest, critically wounding him to die after few days. Police produced him before the Justice of the Peace – Negombo on 3rd of July, 1962, who committed him to fiscal custody in Hulftsdorp Jail to be tried for murder. On dawn of 29th of November 1862, Saradiel climbed to the roof and jumped off the prison roof with help from a friend called Magiris Appu, who worked as a peon in the prison and later sentenced to six months for helping to a prison break.

Saradeil then returned to Uthuwankanda, but rearrested by the village police constable called “Baba Sara”. With past experiences with Saradiel it is decided to keep him pinioned & handcuffed at all times, to be escorted in the custody of a police constable and few fiscal peons and not to travel after dusk and only to stop at Police Stations. But the officials have underestimated him and un-pinioned at Balapane and also let Saradiel’s Step father join the escort party from Ambepussa Police Station onward. It is believed that his step father had supplied liquor to the escort party so that Saradiel could escape. Saradiel escaped again even with his handcuffs on this time, challenging the authority of English governors among the natives. Government then decided to put a five pound reward for his arrest.
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**Government Gazette Extraordinary of 10th January 1863 :

Birth place: Uttoowankandy.
Residence: Uttoowankandy.
Trade: Boutique keeper.
Caste: Wellala.
Religion: Buddhist.
Age: 31 years.
Height: 5ft 3ins.
Hair : Long.
Eyes: Hazel.
Complexion: Brown.
Make [Build]: Well.
Read and Write: Both.
School: Private school.
Family: None.
Former convictions: None.
Distinguishing marks: mark of a mole on the right cheek.
Escaped: 29-Nov., 1862, from Hulftsdorp Jail.

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Saradiel came back to Uthuwankanda and used it as the hideout for his gang consisting Hawadiya, Bawa, Sirimale, Kirihonda, Suwanda and Mammalay Marikkar who is considered Saradiels best friend. This gang robbed 500 rupees (A big amount at that time) from an Arab horses seller at knife point in Galagedara area and killed another two vendors in the vicinity out of suspicion they could have been police informants. This incident again made a huge impact on the rulers which made them to send soldiers and police officers under the supervision of Chief Superintendent McCartney and assisted by villagers to raid Uthuwankanda. When Saradiel saw that there was no other way to escape, he rushed a herd of buffaloes through the thick human wall while hanging on to the neck of a buffalo hiding under its belly, avoiding the arrest. Due to this constant raids of Uthuwankanda, Saradiel moved towards Aranayake giving a severe headache to the European planters of that area. Government had to setup a new police Station in Aranayake due to their requests and strengthen adjacent Police Stations. They also increased the price on Saradiel’s arrest to 100 pounds and 25 pounds each for his gang members.
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In February of 1964, a police party headed by Head Constable Amat who was from Utuwankanda raided a house out of suspicion, but they could only find some stolen money and weapons. Again on 17th of March 1864, two police troops headed by Head Constable Amat and Special Constable George Van Haght raided Saradiel’s mother’s house after receiving information that Saradiel and his best friend Mammala Marikkar were hiding. At this time Special Constable George Van Haght was under suspension for not effectively assisting the arrest of Saradiel. This made him want to prove otherwise and suddenly ordered his team to storm the house. Saradiel’s mother saw them and had enough time to warn her son and his friend. Saradiel and Malmmala stormed out of the house shooting George Van Haght dead and mortally wounding Sergeant Christian Appu (Van Haght’s father in law) and injuring Sergeant Muttusamy and two others who were in the George Van Haght’s team. This made Chief Superintendent McCartney to raise the price of Saradiel’s arrest to 150 pounds but rumors said Saradiel fled to Mathale area and hiding in a jungle.

Sirimale, a member of Saradiel’s gang then became a police informant and arranged a two storied safe house on the Colombo Kandy Road owned by a person named Abdul Cader in Mawanella. Then he tipped off Sergeant Ahamath Mahat and Constable Tuan Saban about the hideout. Two policemen entered the house from the back door and Sergeant Mahat took a shot at Saradiel at the first sight, injuring him. That made Constable Tuan Saban to celebrate the victory too early and Mammale Marikkar fired, killing him on the spot. Sergeant Ahamath Mahat then hide near the stair case making it hard for Marikkar and injured Saradiel to escape without being a target to his revolver. Then Assistant Government Agent of Kegalle, F.R. Saunders arrived the location with forces from Ceylon Rifle Regiment and surrounded the house. Both Saradiel and his friend then surrendered realizing there was no way to escape. Saunders hit Saradiel hard with his cane during the arrest, causing a fracture in his right arm. Saradiel and Mammala Marikkar were escorted to Kandy on the same night.
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Both of them were charged for the murder of Constable Tuan Saban and were tried by an English speaking Jury before Justice Thompson. Considering the history of Saradiel, Advocate Dunuwila who was initially assigned, refused to appear for the accused and government assigned attorneys Purcell and J. Van Langen. Both of them were found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging and were hanged at Gallows Hill in Kandy on 7th of May 1864. Thousands gathered expecting to see a well built man but were surprised to see a slim man with a pleasant face. Mammalay Marikkar was out of his words before execution but Saradiel addressed the crowd and advised the gathering to take a lesson from his life and avoid such acts.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………** The Colombo Overland Observer describes the event as quoted by AC Dep, retired DIG of Police, in his book, A History of the Ceylon Police Vol: I (1795-1866) (Colombo: Author, 1982):

“All the available Policemen in Kandy formed part of the procession. The Roman Catholic minister, Rev. Duffo, went with Saradiel from the jail and the Mohammedan Priest attended on the Moorman. It was quite clear that the prospect of death had completely unnerved the two unfortunate men. They were both pale and the Moorman in particular appeared to be greatly affected. Saradiel walked pretty steadily, reading out of a book, which he held in hand, but the Moorman was quite knocked down, and scarcely once lifted up his head during the walk. The procession passed through the town at a funeral pace until it reached the Hill on which the gallows had been erected.”
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Saradiel and Mammala Marikkar were buried at the Mahaiyawa cemetery in Kandy and a  Police guard was maintained since there was a demand for the bodies. Queens Advocate Richard F. Morgan who conducted the case, commanded the zeal and bravery of Constable Saban and Sergeant Mahat for taking part in the arrest of these two defied law and order, in his report to the Colonial Secretary. Constable Tuan Saban of the Kandy Police Station was the first ever regular Police Officer of the Ceylon Police to sacrifice his life in the course of duty. Later March 21st was declared to commemorate Police heroes in in Sri Lanka every year.
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It is said that Sergeant Mahat was promoted to Head Constable and received a price of 35 pounds. Sergeant Muttusamy received a price of 20 pounds and the son of late Constable Tuan Saban received 30 pound for his father’s bravery. Also Saban’s wife was awarded with a monthly pension of 2 pounds and 6 shillings for life. Christian Appu’s family also received a pension. It is said that Special Constable George Van Haght’s family never received a pension, considering he was on suspension at that time and did not even considered his heroic death as a death of a police officer in the course of duty. Though Saradiel caused terror among the rich, he was a provider for the poor. There is a story of Saradiel once stole from a person who was collecting money for his daughter’s dowry and came to know that later. Then he asked the man to meet him at a certain place and returned the stolen money and another amount as a gift from. There is also a story which says Saradiel was sentenced to death after receiving a letter from the Queen saying ‘kill him, not let him go’, when it was supposed to be ‘kill him not, let him go’.

All that being said, i was interested to see the place which sheltered Saradiel during many raids. I was thinking there must be a special reason for Saradiel to always come back to Uthuwankanda despite it was constantly being raided. Our initial plan was to take a Kegalle bus from Kandy and get down from Uthuwankanda and climb to the peak and follow the same route back home. But then we decided to use two cars considering the flexibility of traveling time and locations. Two cars left Kandy around 7.30 am and it was about 8.00 am when we reached Pilimathalawa to pick another friend. The crew consisted of four males and three females of the same age. We stopped somewhere before Kadugannawa for breakfast and leisurely enjoyed it as there was plenty of time. But the roads bacame busy with travelers realizing us that it is a long weekend and the place can get crowded as we getting delayed.
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We reached Uthuwankanda and turned to “Uthuwana” road. The road was under construction but was manageable to travel by cars. There were many people and we were wondering what might attract such a big crowd for a hike. Seeing many old people in the crowd made us rethink of the idea about the “hike” but then realized all that crowd were visiting the new attraction “Saradiel Village”, a private owned resort with live size statues resembling the life story of Saradiel. We wanted to visit there but we decided to postpone it considering the crowd. Uthuwankanda is a small mountain with a rocky peak and the access road was even concreted for most of the length. Considering the crowd going to Saradiel village, the hiking part was deserted. It was not hard to climb and half way through we met another team climbing down. They directed us towards the caves which is believed to shelter Saradiel.
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Climb towards the caves is not hard and we had to go through a small passage between two rock to enter the caves. (Nothing much to worry about, but thinner you are it will be better 😀 ). We entered the caves with our mobile phone flash lights on, as we were not prepared for a cave expedition. For couple of meters we had to crawl but then the passage got taller enabling us to stand up. Then we came to a small room like place and didn’t went further as the cave got smaller and we were not prepared. (Total length of the passage we travel didn’t exceeded 50m). Then we came out and had a small rest there. The caves were hot and it was hard to breath as there is no proper ventilation inside. Almost every inch of the outer cave walls were scribbled by travelers and  polythene and plastic/glass bottles were dumped everywhere. It was a very disturbing and sad scene to see, what people do to harm nature without considering the effects on their own lives.
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We couldn’t identify the exact path on the way up, but reached the rocky part without much trouble as the mountain was small. Then we started to climb the rocky peak. Me and two others decided no to climb the peak and helped other four to climb. The first part was almost 90 degrees climb and then the middle became easy. There is a kind of square shaped rock on the top and my friends even climbed it. After many photographs and eyes full of scenic view from the top we came back down around 11 am. The crowd towards Saradiel village was then doubled and we decided to have lunch before planning the evening stroll.

We had our lunch in a place near Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and decided to visit “Asupini Ella” (Read my last hike to Asupini Ella) in the evening. It took us some time to reach Asupini Ella via B172 route. The road was good and even the final bit towards Asupini ella is concreted. We stopped our cars near to the top pool of asupini ella and waked towards the observation point. The waterfall was on its full blow making a very beautiful scene. Old memories were recalled seeing the path we climbed few years back and  realized how much a risk we took in that hike. It was dusk when we took our eyes out from the waterfall and came back to Kandy around 7.30 pm.
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Photo courtesy
Chamitha Rathnayake

Reference
* Saradiel – The Robin Hood of Sri Lanka by W.T.A Leslie Fernando

** Uthuwankande Sura Saradiel – The Robin Hood of Sri Lanka – උතුවන්කන්දේ සූර සරදියෙල්
by M.D. (Tony) Saldin

*** Uthuwankande Sura Saradiel – wikipedia

Semmbuwaththe and Hotel Hunnas Falls

MapCrew : 11

Transportation : Van

Duration : One day

 

 

 

This was my second time to Semmbuwaththe and you can find my first visit https://wayfarersnotes.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/sembuwaththe-lake/

Sembuwatte Lake is in the border of the Campbell’s lane forest reserve and it is a man made lake using a land which was a golf court earlier. The road to the lake lies through the Elkaduwa tea estate, Hapuwidde division which is belong to the Elkaduwa plantations. The road towards Elkaduwa starts almost in the Wattegama town and there is about 12.5kms to Elkaduwa from Wattegama. There is a bus service from Wattegama to Elkaduwa.

This time we used a hired van and the journey started from Piliyandala. It was around 7.30 when we passed peradeniya. We used Peradeniya – Gannoruwa road and then Gohagoda road to avoid Kandy town. Then we went to Madawala from Katugastota and then to Elkaduwa.

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We went up to Elkaduwa tea estate by the van and had to walk around 1 Km to Sembuwaththe Lake. My previous visit to sembuwaththe was on a misty day but this time it was a bright and a sunny day. The view was breathtaking……

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We walked along th pathway which is around the lake. The only thing disturbed the walk was Photo shooting!
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There is a man made swimming pool near the lake which is filled by a natural stream, but at the time we visited the pool was emptied for some reason (Cleaning may be) and was refilling. The Lake is said 35 feet deep and there are warnings not to swim in the Lake. After a long walk around the lake we went to Hotel Hunnas falls for Lunch around 12.30 p.m. First thing we saw was Roberosia Trees with pink flowers near the hotel golf court. There is a large pond inside the hotel premises where many large Carps live. The food was tasty and we had a great time swimming in the pool and walking around. We left the hotel around 6.30 p.m. because there is a long way to come back.

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Sera Alla

UntitledCrew : 13

Transportation : Van

Duration : One day

Sera Alla is located near Pitawala Pathana, in Mathale District. One should travel from Mathale on Ratthota road about 37 kms passing pitawala pathana, and then should take the road to your left which leads to Puwakpitiya and travel around 9kms to Sera Alla. The waterfall is around 10 meters in height which carries  water from thelgamu oya. It is said that sera alla got that name due to the fish species “Sera” that lives under the waterfall.
we arranged a van and had little bit trouble finding the way because most of the people were not much familiar with the waterfall. We have brought some noodles, sausages, mushroom and a kerosine oil cooker. We knew that we are at the place when it became all we hear was the sound of water splashing on a rock.  😀  We had to climb down a stair more than to the waterfall and located our cooker in a proper place to cook. We then cooked before we jump in to the water because we knew it is hard to get out, once we get in to the water. There is a very spacious cave behind the waterfall and there are slippery steps to the cave. It was the first time for me to be in a cave behind a waterfall and the view is great. Sera Alla is one of the best places to have a cool bath in the natural surroundings and relax the mind. There is a guard tower near by with a life guard but it is better if you avoid swimming under the waterfall. We saw some broken liqueur bottles and cans left out near the waterfall and it is better if you can bring back everything you take except the foot prints.
🙂

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Sembuwaththe Lake

Another view

Crew : 4

Transportation : Bus (about 5km Walk from Elkaduwa to Sembuwatte)

Duration : One day

Sembuwatte Lake is in the border of the Campbell’s lane forest reserve. The road to the lake lies through the tea estate which is belong to the Elkaduwa plantations.

There is a 15kms ride from Kandy to Wattegama. The road towards Elkaduwa starts almost in the Wattegama town and there is about 12.5kms to Elkaduwa from Wattegama. There is a good bus service from Kandy to Wattegama as well as from Wattegama to Elkaduwa. Also trains are available from Kandy to Wattegama. We left Kandy around 8am and fortunate to be at time for the 9.15 bus to Elkaduwa from Wattegama.

The walk starts from the final bus stop of the route, there is a concrete and gravel road towards the Elkaduwa tea factory which is somewhat good condition. If you are traveling by a private vehicle it is possible to go near to the Sembuwatte lake. We started the 5km walk around 10.30am and the  scenic view of the knuckles mountain range made us to slow down for taking snaps all around. After few kilometers walk we reached to the tea factory which belongs to the Elkaduwa plantations. The visitors should take a ticket to travel further, ticket was about 100 rupees (Can’t remember the exact amount 😛 )
We was able to reach Sembuwatte lake around 11.45am. The lake is surrounded by the tea plantation and some turpentine trees. The Management has taken an appreciable effort to make the lake clean and eye catching. The swimming pool which continuously overflowed by the ice cool water springs draws more attention of the visitors. Well maintained huts and cooking facilities are also provided. (But we survived eating biscuits and short eats all day long 😀 ). A drizzle covered with a thick mist couldn’t stop us from walking around the lake.

Golden trees....

On the way

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A dragonflyOn the way

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On the way

Artistic!

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The pool

Mirror lake

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GiantsWell maitained

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Water rushing downHindu Kovil

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Turpentine growth

Tea estate

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Submerged

First view

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Cute little puppy

Narrow path

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Road we passed

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On the way

On the way

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Tea factory

On the way………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

On the way

Wayfarer's collegues

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