Adam’s Peak(Pic d'Adam) or Sri Pada Mountain is the fourth tallest mountain in Sri Lanka which is highly regarded as a place of religious importance by all Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims. It is located some 40km northeast from Ratnapura city among Central highlands of Sri Lanka and rises up to 7353 feet above sea-level. Since 2011 it is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Travelers who love hiking and sightseeing are effortless attracted to take on their challenges climbing this giant mountain.
Adam’s peak is surrounded by many forested small scale mountains, none of which exceeds the size of this cone shaped giant mountain. According to famous Sri Lankan history book Mahavamsa, the sacred foot print of Lord Buddha was placed on the top of this mountain in his third visit to Sri Lanka by the request of deity of Adam’s Peak, God Maha Suman Saman. Since then Sri Lankans and many foreigners have worshiped this sacred mountain for thousands of years. It is believed among locals that butterflies fly to this mountain to spend the last days of their life. In fact it is possible to see millions of butterflies flying up towards this wildlife sanctuary in some seasons in the year.
However the mountain is similarly regarded as a holy place by many other religions. Christian’s believe it as the place where Adam landed after getting exiled from Garden of Eden. Tamil Hindus believe it as the footprint of Lord Shiva. Muslims believe it as foot of Adam’s and Portuguese believed it as foot print of Saint Thomas, the early apostle of India.
There is a summit in the top of mountain which is about 74 feet in length and 25 in breadth. There is about 8 feet high boulder on this summit which houses the Sacred Foot Print. It is about 5 feet in length and 2.5 feet in breadth. But according to local folklore the real foot is printed on a blue sapphire underneath the huge boulder which was created by God Sakra for its safety.
Renowned traveler Marco Polo records his venture to sacred mountain that he came across to know while being in China. Also Ibn Batuta’s alias Abu Abdullah Mohammed (1304-1377) has recorded his journey to the sacred mountain that he achieved following trails of Kalu River starting from Kalutara.
The pilgrim season traditionally starts on full moon of December and lasts on full moon of April. This is the only season it is possible to climb this grate mountain along thousands of steps. Thick mist, heavy rains and extreme winds make other months impossible to climb. There are 6 known trails to reach Adam’s peak. But most popular routes among them are Hatton-Nallathanni or Ratnapura-Palabaddala routes. In ancient days mountain was only reached via Ratnapura. But with construction of highland roads in British colonial days now it is possible to reach through Hatton city on the Colombo-Kandy-Nuwara Eliya road. Often pilgrims prefer ascent from Hatton city side and descent from Ratnapura side.
Most pilgrims prefer night ascent and they are lucky to feel the nerve popping experience of climbing thousands of steps in forest while looking up at the night sky rich in bright stars. Night climb is safe with electric lights ensuring safe routes during pilgrimage. There are plenty of rest spots with refreshments. Along the way there is a Peace pagoda built and maintained by Japanese monks. Most important moment that should not be missed is the sunrise. The sun casts a perfect shadow of the peak onto the misty clouds down towards the coast. As the sun goes high in to sky this shadow dips down and hides in the base of mountain. Climbers target to reach top on time to observe this unique view that amazed eyes of millions of pilgrims over centuries.
Distance from Colombo to Ratnapura is 94km (3 hours) and distance from Colombo to Hatton city is 121km (4.5 hours). From the bus stop to the summit the Hatton path is about 3 kilometers and climbing takes approximately 4 hours to reach the top.