Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)
There is probably no mountain anywhere more famous than the Sri Pada -Adam’s Peak, which is 7,360 ft tall and is situated in a beautiful area of the southern Hill Country in Sri Lanka. It is sacred to three religions. To Buddhists the human-foot- shaped void on the pinnacle stone marks one of the personal appearances of the Buddha. This is also mentioned in the Mahawamsa that tells how the sacred footprint was imprinted by the departing Buddha on his third visit to Sri Lanka.
The Muslims believe that the depression marks Adam’s punishment of his disobedience by standing there for a thousand years on one foot.
And the Hindus, by whom the Peak has been respected for millennia, its name is Sivan Adi Padham, for it is the Creative Dance of the god Siva that the ‘print’ calls to remembrance.
Whichever legend you may believe, this beautiful hilltop has been a pilgrimage centre for over a thousand years. The pilgrimage season to the Sri Pada, which is also called as Samanalakande – Butterfly Mountain, where butterflies go to die, begins on Poya day in December and continues until the Vesak festival in May. January and February are busiest months from the season. At other times the temple on the summit is unused, and between May and October the peak is often covered by clouds. The climb is still quite possible in the off season too. However since the path is not lit in the off season tourists will need a torch at night. It often rains in the afternoon, especially in the off-season. Thus it is recommended to visit this beautiful mountain top during the pilgrimage season where pilgrims and tourists alike make the climb up the countless steps to the top.
Apart from various religious beliefs, there is a significant link between God Sumana Saman and the Sri Padaya, also known as “Samanala Kanda”. A deity, subject to local and indigenous belief and worship in Sri Lanka. The name Saman means “the rising morning sun”.
His character is of historical significance for the Sinhala people and veneration especially to all the Buddhists.
In the legendary history, Sumana Saman deviyo invited Lord Buddha to the Samanalakanda(Sri Pada Mountain) and on request Lord Gautama Buddha left his foot print on the rock at top of the mountain as a token of symbolic worship, in the absence of the Buddha. God Maha Sumana Saman is depicted crowned, bejeweled, holding a lotus flower in his right hand and accompanied by a white elephant.
There are three routes taken by the pilgrims who climb the Peak, which are Ratnapura route, Kuruwita route and Hatton route. Ratnapura is the starting point for the classical route to Adam’s Peak via Gilimale & Carney Estates. The southern route from the Ratnapura side (11km), starts from Palabadella. Many pilgrims prefer to make this longer, much more tiring-but equally well-marked & well-lit seven-hour climb. The really resolute & fit could climb from Dalhousie & then walk down towards Ratnapura, a long but rewarding day.
The next route is the Kuruwita route. The Adams peak trail except in certain place is an intense and continuous climb. The trail follows through forests and abandoned Tea fields therefore its broader though note that except in most difficult of places steps aren’t available. Passing “waranagala” one could see the Waranagala falls which best seen during off season, across the bridge and trail along the right side of the forest which brings you to the rocky bed of the water fall and several inviting water pools.
As you walk along you’ll pass the “Ambalama” or the resting place at “seethagangula” meaning icy-river a great place to chill but mind you the water is VERY chilly! From here the forest thickens till you get to the Medahinna Temple a Buddhist shrine. Around 09km or so from the starting point you’ll find the next resting point known as “Idikatupana” a great place to witness the sunset. Further on you’ll join up with another trail leading from Ratnapura town at “Galwangediya” resting point.
From here the trail joins up with the Hatton-Maskeliya route and proceeds to the summit together.
The third is the Hatton – Maskeliya route. This is approached via inigathhena- Hatton road, this being the most popular trail, it is well paved for the most of the way and where the trail climbs up are always aided with well laid cement steps.
As you raise yourself along this trail you will be treated to glimpses of beauty of the surrounding mountains and the valleys, enjoy the views and tackle this section slow and carefully. You are at the final stretch and climb gets intense from here onwards, and at this point you’ll distinguish Adams peak from the rest of the mountains. After tackling some difficult terrain you get to the steepest section yet called “Mahagiridambe” meaning the the great boulder or rock after about another 01km you are at the summit at 1890m MSL.
Adam’s Peak saves its most breathtaking moment for just after dawn. The sun casts a perfect shadow of the peak onto the misty clouds down towards the coast. As the sun rises higher this eerie triangular shadow races back towards the peak, eventually disappearing into its base.