Sometimes you wonder how and when you can finish ticking down the countless number of places you have in mind to explore… Leave aside the places overseas, think of the many places which fall under your bucket list in your own country. For me, climbing Adam’s Peak Sri Lanka was one of those in the bucket list for many years until the blessed month of January 2016.
Climbing Adam’s Peak or Sri pada is considered to be one of the most sacred things for Buddhists in particular in Sri Lanka and when you climb for the very first time there are certain traditions to follow. I was told by my parents continuously not to utter the word “ I can’t” when the climb begins. It is believed that the negativity could in fact discourage you from making it right on top of the hill… Sigh ! I totally didn’t want this happening to me so I was determined not to let any negativity come closer to me. When you think about the climb, its not just a fun trip but a strenuous climb! You are talking about more than 5500 feet (7362ft/2250m) all the way up in the hill on un even foot steps!
With the aim of Climbing Adam’s Peak late in the night, I reached Hatton town by evening with my siblings. How to get to adam’s peak? In fact there are two routes ( Hatton & Rathnapura) to reach the Sri pada and we decided to take the Hatton trail. We booked this cute little “ Danish Rock Bunglow” which was not too far from the Hatton city. The view of those mountains in the evening glow was quite amazing as we reached the bungalow. We spent closer to USD 40 per person for an awesome deal of clean and spacious accommodation, great views, great customer care and most importantly a comfortable place to refresh and unwind before our journey begins.
The Adams peak Sri Lanka or Sri pada is usually visited during December and May and January was quite a good month where we didn’t experience tons and tons of people flooding and competing with each other to climb. The mountain is not just special for the fact that its one of the tallest mountains in the country ( holding 5th place), its holds an enormous amount of sacred value for Buddhist as they believe that it holds the foot print of lord Buddha while Hindu’s claim it is Lord shivas and Muslim’s claim it to be Adam’s foot print. Which ever the belief is, a hike to the adam’s peak sri Lanka is just an out of this world experience.
The climb began around 1.30 in the early morning and the weather was bit agonizing for me as it was super cold. So we dressed up as though we were climbing mount Everest, covering our whole bodies to keep us warm and ready for the hike. So being Buddhist it is a tradition that you worship Lord Buddha statues which you come across before the real journey begins. We stopped to worship and not forgetting to request the strength to climb all the way up to witness the miracle up there. As it is believed that it is the area of God Saman, the pilgrims will always request his blessings as well.
The climb was getting more and more difficult as we kept moving in the freezy cold darkness. It was 5 of us and when ever one had to take a break to gain some energy we all stopped by and started off together which was indeed giving each other the strength to keep going. It is a must that you carry some essentials like drinking water and some biscuits.. Oh not forgetting some chocoloates! Yes I mean it! Chocolates can be a great companion to give you energy when climbing.
With all the difficulties of stepping on un even steps every second and the fear of coming across a wild animal through the deep forest, there was a calling which gave us strength and blessings to keep climbing.. While climbing with our paining limbs, every time you look up to see your finishing line which was glowing so beautifully giving light to the darkness surrounded by it, there was definitely a spiritual calling you cannot miss which was certainly giving you inner faith and confidence not to look back but move forward … The lights which guide you all the way to the summit was so beautiful like an art which gave you courage when you keep getting closer to it as you keep moving.. You would come across few shops to buy some time tea to keep you warm and also to grab a roti if you are tummy is craving for some food. Mind you that the prices might surprise you! But actually its not a surprise when you think of the hardship those workers go through by walking up and down the hill everyday to bring the supplies.
You will come across a point called “ Seeta gangula” which is a tiny water fall that runs across the mountain. According to the traditions, pilgrims who are climbing for the first time should either take a shower or wash their faces and purify themselves. There is a coin that you carry with you which should be washed and then tie it up at a point in a white cloth and offer incense sticks which is a way of requesting blessings.. Its quite amazing to see how sri lankans still follow these traditions and so did we! You will also not miss the point ” Indikatu pana” which is covered with white threads by pilgrims requesting for blessings.
So after walking for more than 3-4 hours where we had to stop and give some rest to our aching muscles, the day was just beginning spreading some light around and allowing us to witness the captivating nature around us. While it was quite giving me a dizziness to look down, I found myself not listening to that fear inside me and looking down on the hill to witness the huge crowd who were following us and also see how far we have come to get to this point… Ok so it was almost getting closer to 6.00 am and we all had to keep pushing our legs to drive us faster so that wo don’t miss out the sunrise. Thousands of pilgrims in fact start their journey in the middle of the night to observe this precious moment and I had no questions about it when I got to witness it all by myself.
Even before the sunrise our view was super magnificent and I haven’t experienced anything like that before. It’s a feeling of glory of being so high up in the hill that you can even see clouds few lines below where you stand.. Mystic mountain tops around you was adding so much of glamour that you cannot even imagine if this is for real!
And then the Sun rise happned! Well I have been to many beautiful places and experienced sunrise from stunning luxury rooms… But this!!!! Should I call it bliss??? Happiness ??? miracle ??? because I cannot just call it the sunrise!
We were all gathering up and bathing in this amazing view of the sun which was shining through the mystic clouds and it was like the sun popped up few times before shining bright and smiling at all of us waiting here on the earth waiting for the lively hood from this amazing thing called “ sun “…. How gracious to witness this moment and I truly thanked my beloved self for somehow making it even though my muscles were still aching and crying out in pain…
When you are right on top of the mountain, you can totally embrace in the 360- degree view and feel like you are on top of the world!! That ticklish breeze and whole spiritual feeling of being there is something you would never regret if you make it to the top. No wonder we passed many pilgrims who are climbing even barefoot and I believe its purely their faith and devotion towards their religion which ever religion they belong to… Truly amazing to this while we are on such a digital world where you can fly to see the moon! I managed to find a corner and sit by myself to meditate for few minutes and the feeling of calmness and serenity was so over whelming.. To be precise I found my inner bliss!
People get in to queues see the imprint which is the ultimate goal of your journey. Each person gets few seconds to show their gratitude and worship the imprint and even offer money to sustain this sacred place. However, it is believed that the original footprint is of course kept right beneath the imprint you see, to ensure that this sacred piece is well protected for years to come. The name “ Sri pada” in Sinhalese means the sacred foot print and it is also called “ Samanala Kanda” which means butterfly mountain. As the name suggest, it is said that thousands of butterflies fling around the mountain peak as the adam’s peak season begins and according to legends those beautiful creatures also get together to pay homage to the sacred foot print early in the morning… Wonderful how our ancestors have been so thoughtful in naming each piece of nature they have come across.. isn’t it ? To add more beauty to this mountain, it is a place where al the major religions in Sri Lanka get together and climb peacefully with no conflict about their own belief..
The mountain not only famous for the scared foot print which is such beauty to look at, it is also well known for the unique dense forest that surrounds the whole mountain allowing coolly breeze and shelter for the pilgrims to climb the mountain. The slopes of the mountain are also the sources for main four rivers of Sri Lanka running through the island which makes the mountain even more precious to the Sri Lankans.
Next time you make plans for to visit Sri Lanka, make sure you take up the challenge of climbing this beautiful Adam’s peak Sri Lanka which will not only amaze you with its picturesque beauty but also the spiritual beauty & connection…. One advice, make sure you get your body to work few miles everyday before you start climbing up the hill for hours!
Blessings for a safe climb!