Adam’s Peak, locally popular as Sri Pada which means the sacred footprint, and also known as Samanala Kanda – butterfly mountain is a a historic conical mountain housing an indentation of a sacred footprint has brought reverence to Sri Lanka. Standing 2,243 metres high, it is visited by pilgrims and travellers of all walks of life, faiths, colours, making it one of the most popular attractions in the island.
Adam’s Peak is placed in the southern region of the Central Hills, in the Ratnapura District and Nuwara Eliya District – it lies 40 kilometres northeast of the Ratnapura city and 32 kilometres southwest of Hatton.
The summit of Adam’s Peak houses a shrine accompanied by a rock formation which embraces an indentation of a footprint believed to be that of Adam, believed by Christians and Muslims or Lord Buddha revered by Buddhists or Lord Shiva believed by Hindus.This iconic site is visited by pilgrims from across the globe, in all walks of life. For centuries, especially on Poya days (full moon), Buddhist pilgrims have ascended the peak that lies amidst lush green terrains, to worship and pay homage.
Hiking up the mountain is an extremely popular activity among locals and tourists since they are intrigued by its enigma and surrounding resplendent beauty that enchants them upon reaching the top. Over 6000 crumbling stone steps lead the climb to the summit of the Adam’s Peak; the hike takes two or four hours depending on the crowd and fitness level of the individual. During the peak seasons, the stairway is illuminated by countless scintillating lights and the path is skirted by a number of vendors. The peak is most commonly ascended at twilight around 2am with the intention of witnessing the first golden rays of the dawning sun, iridescent above a chilly carpet of clouds. At dawn, the distinctive shape of the conical mountain casts a triangular silhouette on the surrounding plans, which gradually moves downwards as the sun rises in the sky.
The best time to climb is between December and May where the weather is at its best since thick mists, rains and strong winds make the climb rather challenging yet dangerous during other months of the year. The peak pilgrimage season is April due to the week of the Sinhalese New Year which is 13/14th of April. In order to avoid huge throngs of people, it is advisable to avoid this month unless you’d like to experience watching the pilgrims paying homage. However, it could also be climbed during the dry season, from July to August, during which the crowds are much less.
There are 4 main entry points or trails to reach Adam’s Peak:
Hatton – Nallathanni Trail: This route is the most popular trail leading to Adam’s Peak since it is the shortest normal route. It starts at the highest elevation where the trail is less uphill.
Ratnapura – Palabathgala Trail: This is second most popular trail which is more of a nature trek. It passes through a forest of tall trees within the wilderness sanctuary. The trail begins with lowland vegetation that slowly changes into a montane cloud forest towards the end of the trail. You would encounter some birds and butterflies along the way which adds value to the experience.
Kuruwita-Erathna Trail: The third most popular trail which is 3 kilometres longer than the second popular route which is the Ratnapura – Palabathgala Trail. It is much more challenging than the Hatton-Nallathanni route.
Deraniyagala – Ihala Maliboda Trail: This trail is one of the least hiked routes since it is one of the hardest of all routes but challenging for those seeking absolute adventure and nature. This trail traverses through a thick forest and a wilderness sanctuary along a footpath that is narrow and with rather rocky surfaces. It crosses many rivers or streams which bears risk of floods. The initial 8 kilometres has no presence of any human thereby making the route very remote.
Small backpack carrying water, snacks, a raincoat in case it rains, would be more than sufficient and a dry sweater would be useful when waiting for the sunrise at the top since the winds can get extremely chilly. Of course do not forget your camera!