The Adam Peak is among the most sacred sites in Sri Lanka. It is a mountain 2243 metres high, in the Sabaragamuwa Province in the south-central part of the island country. Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims and Christians all consider it holy and come to visit on their holidays to Sri Lanka. It is located on the southern end of the Central Highlands and is about 40 km from the Ratnapura city. The surrounding area is relatively flatter as no mountains as high as this are here. A wildlife sanctuary, located nearby, has many species of animals, endemic to the country.
Legends and Different Names
The site is referred by different names by different religious communities owing to the legends that they identify the place with. On the summit, there is a human footprint, which is held to be of various deities by people. Buddhist say that it belongs to Gautam Buddha and they call it Sri Pada, meaning sacred foot in Sanskrit and Pali. The earliest mention of this event is in the 4th and 5th century Pali texts Deepawamsa and Mahavamsa, respectively. To the Hindus, it is held to be of Lord Shiva and they refer to it is Shiva Padam. Muslims and Christians believe it as belonging to Adam, the first human and is named as such. The legend says that this is the place where he first set his foot after being thrown out of Paradise by God as a result of the tasting of the Forbidden Fruit.
Most people on their holidays in Sri Lanka prefer to climb the mountain between the months of December and May. There are six routes to the top beginning at Ratnapura, Hatton, Kuruwita, Murraywatte, Malimbada and Mookuwate. The trails starting in Hatton and Ratnapura are the most-preferred by tourists as they originate at major towns. Most opt to climb this pilgrimage site via Hatton and descend via Ratnapura. All the trails intersect at one point and beyond it the ascent is via hundreds of steps. At night, the entire route is illuminated with lights, making it safe to travel. Along the way are numerous stalls and rest stops, offering snacks and refreshments to trekkers. A peace pagoda is located about half-way up, making the site even more sacred.