A cone shaped mountain standing majestically at 2,243 meters is located in the central southern hills of Sri Lanka. Well known to the locals as Sri Pada or “sacred footprint.” Adam’s peak is also known as “butterfly mountain” or samanala kande in Sinhalese.
This lofty peak has its rightful place in history sparking the imagination for centuries and known to many as the peak where Adam first set his foot print when he was rejected by the Christian God and cast out of heaven. Buddhists also know it as the place where the Buddha left his footprint as he journeyed towards samamnala kande, (Butterfly mountain). Some believers also know this peak as the footprint of St. Thomas or to some that of lord Shiva. Legend and history have played a major role in making this sacred mountain a place of pilgrimage for centuries. King Parakramabahu and King Nissanka Malla both of Polonnaruwa constructed ambalamas (resting places) for pilgirms to shelter on their way up the mountain.
The pilgrimage to this mountain begins on a poya holiday, which occurs on a full moon in December and continues until the vesak festival (Buddhist festival) in May every year.
The location from which the climb starts is at a small village named “Dalhousie” situated 33km southwest of the town of Hatton. The mountain route is illuminated at night, which adds luster to the climb. The climb takes around 5 hours and the Milky Way is quite visible during the climb.
The view from the summit is spectacular especially the sunrise at dawn. As the first ray of light emerges from afar you will be amazed at the panoramic views you get of the landscapes of Sri Lanka. Another notable feature is the rising triangular shadow of the peak displayed by the sun’s rays on the misty clouds and disappearing eventually as the sun brightens up the day.
Geography The mountain is located in the southern regions of the central highlands, in the Ratnapura district of the Sabaragamuwa province. The surrounding region is mainly forested hills that have become wildlife reserves housing many varying species of fauna and flora.
Most major rivers in Sri Lanka originate from these peaks. The surrounding districts of Ratnapura (Gem City) yield precious stone such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires etc.,
Access to the mountain is possible by different trails: The most favored trail is the Nallathanni and Palabaddala route. All trails are connected to major cities by bus. The usual route taken by pilgrims is via Hatton, which is the steepest but shortest of routes by 5 km. The greater part of the track leading to the summit consists of over thousand steps built in cement and rough stones. There are wayside shops serving tea and refreshments. History
Adam’s Peak is mentioned in the chronicles of the “Mahawamsa” and “Deepawamsa” as early as the 4th and 5th centuries, where it is stated that the Buddha visited the mountain peak. Most pilgrims believe that the Buddha left his footprint here.
Marco Polo has also recorded observing an oversized footprint carved in stone and ornamented with a single margin of brass and studded gems.
Adams Peak has therefore maintained its position of historical and religious significance and is still revered as a holy site by Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. The footprint is covered by a roof and is guarded and maintained by the Buddhist monks in the monastery, which is halfway up the mountain.
Many tourists are now starting to climb this mountain peak. Climbing at night is best suited for those who want to experience the sunrise. The mountain is most scaled from December to May. It is hard to climb during the other months due to heavy rain, strong winds and thick mist.