Adam’s Peak: Realm of the Gods
The perfect conical shape of Adam’s Peak rises abruptly above the central highlands in the southwest corner of Sri Lanka. This distinctively shaped mountain is known locally as Sri Pada or ‘sacred footprint’.
Easily spotted from far out to sea, the mountain’s dominant profile served as a landmark to ancient seafarers on trade routes between Asia and India. Today, Sri Pada is an important pilgrimage site especially for Buddhists and Hindus. The pilgrimage season – when thousands of devotees flock to the mountain – is from December to April when the weather in Sri Lanka permits the steep climb to the peak.
Photo by Thierry Leclerc
Reaching a height of 7360 feet, the sacred footprint is found near the summit – a site that is considered holy to the world’s four major religions. According to Buddhist tradition, the footprint was made by Lord Buddha, while the Portuguese Christians claimed the impression was left by St Thomas on a missionary trip to Sri Lanka. An Arab Islamic legend says that Adam left the footprint after he was expelled from the Garden of Eden. Hindus, on the other hand, believe it was the world-creative dance of Shiva that left the giant print.
Located near the city of Ratnapura, the base of Adam’s Peak is between Columbo and Kandy on the way to Horton Plains National Park. The walk to the top is a remarkable experience. Commencing at night with stars overhead, the steep path is lit up and safe with traditional Sri Lankan vendors offering hospitality along the way. The idea is to reach the summit by sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain becomes a shadow on the floor of the valley below. The shadow moves quickly downward as the sun rises. The natural habitat at the summit is a good place to see birds and butterflies.
For more information about places to visit in Sri Lanka, hiking and the best season to visit Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada), please contact [email protected]