Adams Peak Tour: A Mix of Adventure and Belief

Adams peak tour can be a challenging adventure to most travellers, regardless of age, physical fitness or mental stability. Adams peak tour is on the bucket list of every Buddhist devotee in Sri Lanka. The long-distance hike on narrow stairs up to 2300 meters above sea level on foot is really a challenge. The ritual hike through the pristine forest and breathtaking scenery is backed by picture-perfect scenery and drama that plugs hikers into something unquantifiable, yet life-affirming.

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At daybreak, many hundred pilgrims as well as tourists, who venture on the Adams peak tour, reach the pinnacle of Adams peak and stay on high alert. All eyeballs are entangled with the rising sun, and in its brilliance, dazzling gives rise to the belief that the sun salutes the footprint of Buddha seven times dipping below the horizon.

“Sadu Sadu” 2 words, to greet the rising sun, echoed in the air as the sun emerges from the horizon over the purple range of hills and then in a flash all rush to the opposite side, where the mystery shadow of the conical-shaped mountain awes the beholder

According to Emmerson’s tenant, “the view from the top of Adams peak is perhaps the grandest in the world like no other mountain, although surpassing it in altitude, presents the same unobstructed view over land and sea. The view towards the north and east encompasses a lofty hill that surrounds the Kandyan Kingdom. Towards the west, it is the endless, undulating plains threaded by rivers like cords of silver, until the sunbeam makes its way through the purple sky and falls into the Indian ocean.”        

Adams peak or Sri pada has always been a top-notch religious attraction and it is among the most popular Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Many thousands of travellers take part in Adams peak tour every year.

Adams peak tour: a mix of adventure and belief

Adams peak tour is a challenge for any traveller, regardless of age, physical fitness or mental stability. Adams peak tour is on the bucket list of every Buddhist devotee in Sri Lanka. The long-distance hike on narrow stairs up to 2300 meters above sea level on foot is really a challenge. The ritual hike through the pristine forest and breathtaking scenery is backed by picture-perfect scenery and drama that plugs hikers into something unquantifiable, yet life-affirming.

While thousands of local travellers are drawn to the mountain due to the footprint of Buddha and they arrive with overwhelming faith in Buddha, an equal number of foreign travellers gather at Adams peak in search of the beauty of nature and the thrill of adventure.

The history of Adams peak tour

Adams peak is visited by thousands of visitors even before the start of tourist traffic to the island in the early 1900s. Historians opine that Adams peak was a top religious attraction along with its counterparts such as Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa since the pre-Christian era. For most foreigners, the Adams peak tour is a popular expedition, which is a part of many Sri Lanka road trips.

Adams peak hike gives you the opportunity to see some beautiful and unspoiled scenery. Unlike most mountain climbs in Sri Lanka, there is a specific time period to climb the mountain of Sri Pada. The period begins in the month of May (Parallel to the dry weather season on the west coast, check my article on the best time to visit Sri Lanka) and ends in December.  The climb of Adam’s peak was primarily a religious matter. Most people make the upward trek to worship the footprint of Buddha. Some people, especially foreign tourists do it as a nature exploration trip as well as a minor adventure activity.

Reaching the summit is the pinnacle of the Adams peak tour

Nothing about the remote mountain and a tour of Adams peak is for the faint of heart – it can be very cold and tiring, located in the rugged terrains of Sri Lanka’s hill country and is usually covered in a thin mist. Adams peak is a 2,243 meters (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. 

Adams peak is the fifth-highest mountain on the island. Ahead of Adams peak is Piduruthalagala in Nuwara Eliya (2524m), Kirigalpotta in Horton Plains (2395m), Totupolakanda in Horton Plains (2357m) and Kudahagala (2320m). Four main rivers named Mahaweli, Kalu, Kelani and Walawe and several other tributaries flow from the Adams peak area giving rise to a number of waterfalls in Sri Lanka. This area consisting of birds, mammals, reptiles as well as flora endemic to Sri Lanka is rich in biodiversity.

Adams peak tour and Ramayana

The history of the Adams peak tour goes back to Ramayana’s era. According to the folktale king, Ravana hid queen Seetha in Adam speak Mountain after she was abducted from India. There is a supposition to the effect that the name “Sita Gangula” originated because it was the place where queen Sita bathed.

It has not been discovered clearly as to when exactly the Buddhist pilgrimage to Sripada started. However, it is noted that it is the sun-worshipers who made the first offerings to Sri Pada. In 140 BC when king Dutugemunu was on his deathbed he called the monk called Pullabhaya and requested him to bless him. Then the monk reminded the king of the great noble deeds he had performed. Out of them, that which soothed the king’s mind most was the incident which had taken place during a famine. He had offered Cunji to Arahath Maliyadeva and then the remaining to 900 monks resided at Sripada.

Mahawamsa, the chronicle of Sri Lankan ancient history states that Queen Vajira, wife of king Kashyapa’s son Shakra, the chief commander of the army – got a nunnery constructed and offered to the Buddhist nuns. Although due to certain invasions Adam’s peak got away from public attention during some reigns, this noble sacred place got close to devotees.

Adams peak tour: Peak Wilderness

Endemic birds such as wood pigeons, “Lanka Arapatha”, red-faced malkoha, Orange-billed babbler, and Sri Lankan junglefowl are prevalent in this area. Apart from a large number of various animal species including mammals such as barking deer, mouse deer, and leopard, reptiles such as green pit wiper live in this area. A large number of flowering plants can be seen in the area including extremely valuable plants used in Ayurveda herbal medicine. Adams peak is abundant in gems such as Pink sapphire, orange sapphire, Blue Sapphire, Ruby, Yellow sapphire, and cats eye.

Historical names of Adams peak

Historical records reveal that Adams peak had been known as Samanthakuta, Samanhela, Samangira, Samanala kanda, Samanala Giri, Samanala kuta, Rohana and Rohana parvata and in veda book called Prananoeni in Yamat and in Narapati Jayacharya as Sri Parvata, Shramana Kuta, Sheela Kuta Parvata and Shuna Kuta.

According to the facts given in Mahawamsa Seehalavattu, Rasawahini, it can be deduced that Samana Kuta was a Buddhist forest meditation centre where Arahats lived. It has been discovered that footprints had been the object of worship prior to the sculpture of Buddha in Sri Lanka and also in Dambadiva (ancient India).

The best time for the Adams peak tour

Adams peak is located in the southern reaches of the Central Highlands, in the Ratnapura district – lying about 40 km northeast of the city of Ratnapura. The devotees climb the mountain using several footpaths, however, the distance to cover every route is about the same and takes around 6 hours.

The most crowded month of the Sri Lanka season is April, Mainly due to the school holidays and, the favourable weather will less rain. Other than worshipping the footprint of Buddha another most important objective of the people who embark on this adventure tour of Sri Lanka is to see the first sunrays of the day. Daybreak is a beautiful spectacle as the rising sun cast a triangle-shaped shadow on the surrounding lowland areas. Mountain climb at night is not recommended due to the wild animal threat. Still, the path to the top is illuminated only a few people go up at night.

Offseason for Adams peak tour

Adams’s peak offseason starts in April parallel to the start of the southwest monsoon and lasts until November. During this period devotees are not on the track and heavy rain occurs often.

Sri pada/Adams peak is the Most Sacred Mountain with a Rich Historical Past

In Sri Lanka, the different religious groups celebrate numerous religious festivals and observances during specific periods of the year. For Buddhists, it is November, starting the season to visit Holy Peak (Sri Pada). It is believed that Buddha left his footprint on the holy mountains on his third visit to Sri Lanka, making it one of the most sacred places in Sri Lanka.

Adams peak footprint

There is possibly no mountain more famous than Adam’s peak / Sri Pada in Sri Lanka.  The depression right on top is being interpreted by at least three religions as being sacred to them. To Buddhists, it is the footprint of Buddha, for Muslims, it is the footprint of Adam. Muslims believe that Adam stood there for an age, on one foot to get over his disobedience, thus creating the depression. The Hindus call it “Sivam Adi (oli) Padam”. It is the creative dance of Siva that the “print” calls to remembrance.

Sri Pada is also considered the abode of Saman, a pre-Buddhist god, one of the four guardian deities of the country. The mountain is also called Samanala Kanda, which also means the mountain of the “Samanalayo”, the butterflies.  It is a well-known fact that during the pilgrim season, clouds of yellow butterflies appear in the area converging from every possible direction upon the holy mountain.

  • Adams peak Ratnapura trail
  • Adams peak Hatton trail
  • Adams peak Kuruvita

There are at least three routes to the mountain. One is from Rathnapura via Carney Estate; those who take this route have to walk about ten miles. The second from Kuruwita involves 12 miles on foot. It joins the first route for the last 3 miles. The third is from Hatton via Maskeliya and the walk is only about four miles, it is only the steps throughout the climbing on this route. It is the common belief that one needs to do a ritual bath at seethe Gangula (pond of cold water located halfway up on the climbing) before coming to the summit. After the bath devotees wear white and continue climbing.

Adams peak tour on Hatton trail and Ratnapura trail

This is the most crowded trek with thousands of people going up the mountain during the pilgrim season. If you like to enjoy nature while having some experience of religious, cultural and traditional angles of Sri Lankan life, I think Sri Pad must be in your travel plan.

Most people use the Hatton and Ratnapura starting points and traverse through the forested area of the mountain to reach the Nalatanni. Usually, the Sripada climb starts after the religious activities and taking a traditional bath. The first important attraction along the way is the “Makara thorana” or dragon pandol. The sacred area begins after the dragon pandol. The trek that goes through the jungle begins here and the climbs get tougher.

The “Sama Chetiya” is the second important attraction after the pandol. This is a relatively modern construction, which originated about 20 years back. The next stop for travellers along the way is the Seeta gangula. Seeta Gangula is considered to be the place, where Buddha took a rest. This is the place, where people make a ritual bath and dress up in white cloth. The most difficult part of the climb is known as Ahasgauwa and it is the steepest part of the entire climb. This is the upper part of the mountain and appears almost vertical. This part of the mountain is visible to some places of more than a 100-kilometre distance.

The trekking of Sripada culminates at “Dolosmahe Pahana”. It is situated on the Sripada Maluwa or the summit of the mountain. The most important object for visitors is situated here, which is known as the footprint of Buddha. The view from Sripada Maluwa over the surrounding area is very picturesque, most notably the sunrise is the most attractive scenery from here.

The whole trek takes about 6 hours and the mountain is more than 2000 meters high. Usually, the travellers start their climb at night with the aim of reaching the summit at about 5.00 AM. It allows them to see the awe-inspiring sunrise from the summit.

Watching the footprint of Buddha on the Adams peak tour

Upon reaching the summit, everyone’s wish is to worship the sacred footprint. The devotees worship, keeping the head on the slab, which covers the footprint located underneath. Though it is crowded especially during the season, everyone gets a chance to worship the footprint. Worshipping is accompanied by chanting the religious text.

Devotees offer flowers and poured oil into the “Dolos maha pahana” The eternal lamp which lights throughout the year. Once the ritual is over, pilgrims ring the bell located on the summit. The novice would ring it just once to indicate it is his first visit. Others vary according to the number of visits. One might feel exhausted during the return trip due to the nearly six hours of climbing as well as the sleepless night spent on the way so it is a slow trek to reach the bottom and return home.

Walking on the Adams peak track

From the car park, continue on the footpath towards the mountain foot. There is a series of small huts line of small huts along the first part of the track, which is selling various items such as sweetmeats, toys, tea etc. Few hundreds meter after crossing the wooden bridge, now the track meander through the lush green vegetation. The Adams peak track starts to get more and more steeper after this point, Here onward the visitors traverse through the thick jungle until they reach the summit.

If you start with the morning walk and do not care to lose the early morning sunlight from the pinnacle, your effort will be well rewarded with gorgeous scenery. Don’t forget to make an occasional stop and look back to absorb the beautiful mountain scenery of peak wilderness. The long climb to Adams peak, the highest point of the track, is worth every step. You will be greeted with a 360-degree view over the low-lying jungle and the valley. The Adams peak tour includes many other pretty little tarns hidden in its folds.

Adams peak tour: accommodation

Usually, the Adams peak tour is a 1 days trip with the moonlight hike. There are no campsites or lodges available on this track and therefore no possibility of sleeping overnight once you start the hike. The travellers that like to have accommodation would have arranged it at the starting point of the track. You will get plenty of accommodation options near the starting point of Adams peak. Here you can find luxury, high-end accommodation facilities to the most basic and cheap accommodation options.

How to get to the start point: Adams peak tour

If you plan the Adams peak tour with Seerendipity, they organize entire ground transport as well as other important things of the tour. If you venture on the Adams peak tour solo, you can use either private transport such as a car or van with a local driver or a public bus. It is recommended to have a private vehicle for the trip as it saves a lot of time. Usually, the public buses on the island are behind the schedule and take a lot of time to travel between cities. The private vehicle might be a bit expensive compared to the public bus but you save a lot of time, and you have comfort and maximum safety with it.

Adams peak is nestled in a rocky outcrop and the entire region is surrounded by forests. You have to travel 150 km from Colombo via Maussakele. Buses are available on a regular basis from Colombo to Mussakele bus station. The travellers need to get an Adams peak bound bus from the Mussakele bus stations, which proved to be a bit difficult. Buses are scarce on this route and you may have to wait a few hours to get a bus. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to travel from Mussakele junction to Adams peak due to the dilapidated road conditions.

Miracles of Adam’s peak Sri Lanka

There are many stories that are heard every day that are related to unseen forces operating in various places in the world. The sacred places are prominent. It is not an exaggeration that a number of such incidents took place in historical places such as Anuradhapura.

Situlpauwa, Kataragama, and Kandy are three places with a large number of such incidents. Something noteworthy about these incidents is such occurrences are seen by some people and are not visible to others but some incidents are seen by all. The miraculous phenomenon remains a secret even for the scientists of the 21st century. Despite many types of research to discover the scientific background of such incidents, there is no significant progress can be seen until today.

There are many such tales of the Sripada sacred area that have been carried down from ancient times to display the unseen power of God Saman. It is said such miracles took place much more frequently during the time when the Sripada pilgrimage was much more difficult and dangerous than today. Still, such incidents are reported in the area but not as frequent as they had been.

It is not the custom to undertake the Sripada pilgrimage during the off-season. However, a group of devotees come to Sripada from various parts of Sri Lanka during this period and engage in Buddhist religious activities.

A lady 65 years old came across a miraculous incident while she was on a pilgrimage to Sripada. This lady, who was coming from Welimada had gone to Sripada for four years continuously from 1983, she had been there only during the off-season.

Pilgrims need to do ritual preparedness before setting off on the journey. Pilgrims need to observe several rituals for three days before the pilgrimage. That is, on all three days they take a bath at least once a day, wash clothes, and refrain from eating fish, egg or meat as well. Worshipping Buddha every morning and evening also needs to be performed during the three days. Failing to observe the rituals may create some trouble during the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage takes around a week time and varied depending on the distance from Sripada.

On one occasion when this lady was in the main shrine of Sripada with a group of pilgrims, they heard a person murmuring. To see, if one of their devotees had fallen, the group had no idea if someone went missing until the murmur. The miracle was that sound was not coming from their group.

There was no one to murmur in the vicinity, other than the members of the group. Once they checked if one had gone missing, they found that one person is not with the group and the male devotees started to see where the missing person is. They found him fallen off the steps and entangled in a tree down the forest, he was facing downward. People managed to carry him up to the steps again. After sprinkling the holy water on the face of the person, he was back to normal and started to talk.

The person explained that he had seen a piece of white cloth falling on the ground and he tried to catch it at that moment the piece of cloth vanished and he had fallen down. Sripada is inhabited by wild animals such as leopards, elephants, wild boars etc and it could be the end of the person if they were not murmured about the incident by the unknown voice. It is believed that the god Saman the protector of Sripada is keeping an eye on the pilgrim and helps them to carry on their merit-making activities in the holy mountain.

Adam’s peak seasonal climb 2022/23

Adams peak climbing adventure is highly seasonal and 90% of the climbers venture oin this adventure from December to April. The Adams peak adventure tour for the year 2022/23 starts on the 7th of December 2022. The full moon day of December falls on the 7th Dec which is a holiday in Sri Lanka. The Adams peak climbing season would come to end on teh full moon day of May 2023. The temple in Rathnapura will organize a festival with a procession in marking the inauguration of Adams’s peak pilgrimage season. The casket of the sacred relic will be transported to the temple on top of Adams peak in a motorcade. The journey starts from Galpottawala Sri Pada Rajamaha Vihara in Pelmadulla.