Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s fourth highest mountain (2244m) is located 40km northeast of the city of Ratnapura. Distance from Colombo to Ratnapura is 94km.

    Hatton Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada is an important pilgrim site. The devotees of many religions climb the mountain to invoke blessings. Buddhist believes the impression on the summit is the footprint of the Buddha. Sripada is the 4th highest mountain in Sri Lanka and it takes 4-5 hours to reach the peak by foot. The mountain is also named as Samanala Kanda or Butterfly Mountain. The area is rich in biodiversity and surrounded by the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary. The pilgrimage season starts on Unduwap Poya.

    The season begins in December and ends in April.

    Location of the Adam’s Peak

    Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s fourth highest mountain (2244m) is located 40km northeast of the city of Ratnapura. Distance from Colombo to Ratnapura is 94km.

    The Setting: the Significance in Nature

    Adam’s Peak is surrounded, largely by the forested hills, with no mountain of comparable size anywhere round in the vicinity. The region of Peak Wilderness Sanctuary that encompass the Adam’s Peak together with Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Range, all in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is recognized as a World Heritage Site in the year 2011.

    Reaching the Base of Adam’s Peak

    Main roads connect the final nodes of Nallanthanni to the city of Hatton, Palabaddala to the city of Ratnapura & Erathna to the city of Kuruwita. While the city of Hatton can be reached by Highland Railway line as well as by the main motor roads, the cities of Ratnapura and Kuruwita can be reached only by main motor roads.

    Access to the mountain is possible by 6 trails: Hatton-Nallathanni; Ratnapura-Palabaddala; Kuruwita-Erathna; Murraywatte; Mookuwatte; Malimboda.
    The most popular routes out of these are the Hatton-Nallathanni & Ratnapura-Palabaddala.
    The less popular route: Kuruwita-Erathna
    The least used routes: Murraywatte, Mookuwatte & Malimboda. These routes join Palabaddala road midway through the ascent.

    The Favorite Ascent and Descent

    In the ancient times the only way to approach Sri Pada was from the city of Ratnapura. Following the construction of highland roads in the 19th century by the British colonial rulers of Sri Lanka, the city of Hatton on the Colombo-Kandy-Nuwara Eliya became the most popular starting point Those with a bit of adventure, prefer the ascent by the Hatton path and the descent by the Ratnapura path.

    The Ascent to the Peak

    Once you reach a final node (Nallanthanni or Palabaddala or Erathna) begins the difficult journey through the forest on foot. Most of the pilgrims use Hatton route as the journey on foot can be reduced by more than five kilometers even though the slope of this route is much greater than other routes.

    The Season and Timing

    The pilgrims season to Sri Pada traditionally starts on the full moon of December and ends on the full moon of April. During the first half of the season the night ascent isn’t crowded. However during the second half of the season, the ascent gets crowded more and more on each passing day.

    Night Ascent in the Season

    The greater part of the track leading from the base to the summit consists of thousands of steps built in cement or rough stones. The track being illuminated with electric power lines, the night ascent is safe even when accompanied with kids. The track having night rest stops and wayside stalls and kiosks that serve refreshments, the goal of reaching the summit in time to enjoy the spectacle of sunrise at the summit is made easy enough for the pilgrims and tourists of all ages.

    Day ascent in the season: Alternatively, you can climb up during the day, stay overnight at the summit, enjoy the spectacle of sunrise in the next day and then descend. The daytime affords the opportunity to climb at a leisurely pace, have plenty of time to enjoy the views all round, see the sunset and secure the best place to observe the sunrise in the morning.

    The Sama Chatiya at Adam’s Peak

    On your track up, within a few minutes climb is the Sama Chatiya, the World Peace Pagoda. This stupa was built by the famous Japanese Buddhist monk Ven Nichi Fuji in 1976. Today it is maintained by several Japanese monks. Though not much could be made out of the stupa and the landscape in the night ascent, during the day Peace Pagoda stands out dramatically with the backdrop of Adam’s Peak.

    The summit: Accommodation on the summit is basic and you would have to bring your own food and perhaps a blanket or sleeping bag. However, whenever you decide to go, check the Weather report before setting out. Rain can make for a miserable trip and it is more likely that cloud or mist will obscure the view.

    The Sunrise at the Summit and the Shadow of the Mountain

    When it was just about to sun rise at the summit, the pilgrims and tourists rush to the eastern side of summit. The sun almost leaps over the horizon; it is not a gradual rise. Having seen it, all move to the western side of the summit. Therein is a perfect triangle of a shadow of the mountain spreading over the landscape. In the event of mist the shadow appears upright. As the sun keeps on rising, the shadow shifts towards the base of the mountain to disappear.

    The Sacred Footprint of Adam’s Peak Sri Lanka

    On the summit of Adam’s Peak is located a shrine, a belfry and a resting place. The center of the attraction is a stone tablet covering the sacred foot print of Buddha. The pilgrimage done solely for the purpose of paying homage to the sacred foot print called Sri Pada (Sinhala: Resplendent feet).

    Nearly as much has been written about the sacred footprint as has been about the mountain itself. According to Giovani de Marigolli, “The size, I mean the length thereof, is two and a half of our palms, about half a Prague ell. And I was not the only one to measure it, for so did another pilgrim, a Saracen from Spain”.

    Robert Knox, an Englishman who lived in Sri Lanka in the 17th century, wrote that it was “about two feet long”. Captain John Ribeyro in his account of Sri Lanka presented to the king of Portugal in 1687 claimed that the footprint “could not be more perfect had it been done in wax”.

    In 1859 James Emerson Tennent, the colonial secretary of Ceylon during the period of 1845 to1850, described the footprint as “a natural hollow artificially enlarged, exhibiting the rude outline of a foot about five foot long”.

    These are fine examples of how the perceptions of the sacred footprint vary according to the expectations of the visitors.

    The Ancient Chains

    The steep descent along the Ratnapura track is supported by the large chains riveted into the sheer rock face of the Adam’s Peak Sri Pada. The Muslims believed the iron chains were fixed by Alexander the Great. The Zaffer Namah Sekanderi, a 15th century Persian poem celebrating the exploits of Alexander says “he fixed thereto chains with rings and rivets made of iron and brass, the remains of which exist even today, so that travelers, by their assistance, are enabled to climb the mountain and obtain glory by finding the sepulcher of Adam”.

    However the Sinhalese records reveal that the chains were fastened onto the rock face by King Vijayabahu (1058-1114 AD).
    The Mahavamsa records a stipulation by King Vijayabahu: ‘Let no one endure hardship who goeth along the difficult pathways to worship the Footprint of the Chief of Sages on Samantakuta Mountain’, he caused the village of Gilimalaya which abounds in rice fields and other lands, to be granted to supply pilgrims with food. And at the Kadatigama road and at the Uva road he built rest houses”

    In 1815, the British colonialist Major Forbes witnessed a tragic though rare accident while ascending the Adam’s Peak Sri Pada “Several natives were blown over the precipice, and yet continued clinging to one of the chains during a heavy gust of wind; but in such a situation, no assistance could be rendered, and they all perished.”

    Ancient Texts Concerning Gauthama Buddha’s Visits to Sri Lanka

    According to the Mahavamsa, the historical chronicle of Sri Lanka Buddha visited the island three times. It was during the last sojourn of Buddha, at the request of the deity of Adam’s Peak God Maha Suman Saman, the footprint was planted upon the summit of Adam’a Peak.

    Records of Buddha’s visits to Sri Lanka is not confined to the Theravada tradition or to the ancient chronicles of Sri Lanka. The Lankavatara Sutra, the seminal text of the Ch’an and Zen schools of Buddhism, which was believed to had been preached by the Buddha, refers to a visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka.

    The Chrakasamvara Tantra of Mahayana Buddhism reveals of Buddha leaving the impression of his foot on a mountain. However the failure to record the name of the mountain has resulted in a mistaken identity by a Tibetan scholar a leading to Mount Kailash in the western Himalayas.

    Beliefs by the Christians, Hindus and Muslims concerning footprint upon the summit of Adam’s Peak Sri Pada
    Tamil Hindus consider it as the footprint of Lord Shiva. It is also fabled that the mountain is the legendary mount Trikuta the capital of Ravana during the Ramayana times from where he ruled Lanka.

    Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka ascribe it to where Adam, the first Ancestor, set foot as he was exiled from the Garden of Eden. The legends of Adam are connected to the idea that Sri Lanka was the original Eden.

    The Mount of Many Names

    The most ancient name, the name prior to the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, of Adam’s Peak is Samantakuta (Peak of Saman) that refers to the mountain as the adobe of god Maha Suman Saman.

    Sri Pada (Sanskrit: sacred foot) has been name in which mountain has etched into the memory of the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka.
    Gems found in the mountain had given birth to the name of Ratnagiri (Sinhala: jeweled hill)

    The long flights of samanala (Sinhala: butterflies) that frequent the mountain during their annual migrations to the region has resulted in naming the mountain Samanala Kanda (Sinhala: the hill of the butterflies).

    Adam’s Peak is the name given to the mountain by the British Colonialists (1815-1948) in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon.

    The Sacred Samanala Mountain Sri Lanka Highlights

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    Adam's Peak (Sri Pada) Pilgimage Season
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