Welcome to the Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)!
Do not skip this fascinating place if you have reached Sri Lanka! Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada in local language is the most sacred mountain in the country and offers spectacular views on tea plantations, hills and lakes!
The height of the peak is 2 243 metres and the mountain spreads over a land of 22 280 hectares. Due to the tropical forest of Sri Pada, it has been declared as a sanctuary since 25th October, 1940. Sri Pada is the third highest mountain in Sri Lanka, and it has an elegance that is widely admired as a gift of nature. This is a holy peak for people of various beliefs over a thousand years. In Buddhism it is believed that the Buddha himself left the footprint on this hill when he was going to the Paradise. For Hindus, it is Lord Shiva’s footprint and for Christians it is the footprint of Adam that he left after he was banished from the Garden of Eden.
There are many stone inscriptions called Sellipi which describe the visits of the peak by the ancient kings. The information has been mentioned in several Chronicles such as “Mahavanshaya”, “Deepavanshaya”, “Chulavanshaya” and in many books written during Kotte Era. According to the ancient historical descriptions, Sri Pada pilgrimages have been regularly visiting the peak during the Polonnaru and Dambideni Eras. By the historical information, King Walagamba was the first royal devotee who visited Sri Pada.
There are many traditional customs bound to the climbing Sri Pada mountain. The first time climber of this mountain is known as “Kodukaraya”. It is customary for devotees to bathe at the steam called “Seetha Gangula” and to get ready before starting the journey. “Indikatupana” is the place where devotees stop and hang threaded needle to shrub. Devotees usually sing various folk songs while climbing the mountain. At the summit they ring the bell according to the number of visits in Sri Pada. The main goal of the Sri Pada devotees is reach to the peak of the mountain before the sunrise. This glorious view of the sun rising is called “Ira sewaya” which adds an unforgettable experience. Therefore most of the tourists start their climb at 2 AM to reach the peak at sunrise. The path up the peak is illuminated, so it is very possible to do that. Sri Pada devotees who climb up and climb down wish each other to have a blessing of God Sumana.
There are six routes to reach Sri Pada – Rathnapura – Palabaddala road, Hatton – Nallathanni road, Kuruwita – Erathna road, Nuryawatta route, Mukuwatta route and Malimboda route. Most likely you will use Hatton – Nallathanni road as it is the easiest to reach. Basically you need to take the bus or train from Kandy (or Colombo) to Hatton, the closest big city to the Adam’s Peak. From Kandy it will take around three hours by train, from Colombo around six to seven hours. Train is the cheapest option here. There are reserved and unreserved seats. You have to book reserved seats in advance in the train station for the first, second or third class. If all the seats are booked, the only option is to buy the unreserved tickets at the same day. It doesn’t guarantee you a seat, so you will need to fight for it. Remember that trains can be packed during the tourism season. What’s for the bus – maybe you won’t be able to see those amazing views as from the train and you would need to pay a bit more for the tickets, but you will get your seat. Catch the bus at the bus station, they do not have very precise time schedule though. After you reach Hatton, go to the bus stand there and take a bus to the Maskeliya or Nallathaniya village. It’s an hour ride to the first village of Maskeliya and one and a half hours to Nallathaniya village that is located just by the starting point of the trail up the hill. Maskeliya could be a bit cheaper in terms of hotels, but there is limited options for food. Nallathaniya is very touristy, you will find hotels and restaurants all around.
It takes around three to four hours (or longer, depending on you fitness level) to get to the top of the mountain. The trail up the peak is very good, there are stairs and handrails to hold on. Besides the spectacular views, on the way you will be able to see Buddha temples, stupas and take a rest in small, basic cafes. “Makara – torana” (arch at the entrance), “Seetha gandula”, “Ahasgavva”, “Indikatupana”, “Geththampana”, “Dharmarajagala”, “Gona thenna”, “Ahethu kanuva”, “Mahagiri dambaya”, “Siripa maluwa”, “Siripa padhmaya” (the sacred footprint) and “Dholosmahe pahana” are some special places found on the way to Sri Pada. But embrace yourself! The climb up is not that easy! Especially when it comes to an end, the way up is steep and steps become higher.
At the end of the Adam’s Peaks or Sri Pada you will see a temple. If it’s not the season, the temple will be closed. Though take a moment to feel that special atmosphere! If you are lucky and there are no clouds, you will be able to see breathtaking panoramic views on the tea plantations and lakes. Signs will ask you to remove your shoes before entering the temple complex, some people do it right away, some only when approaching the small temple. Good thing that everything is for free here. And then there is a climb down. It will take you to two to three hours to get down. And another day to rest. But it’s totally worth it! Place is quite easy to reach, all the facilities are there. So come and enjoy!