It may only be Sri Lanka’s fourth highest mountain, but Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada in the Central Highlands is easily the most well known of the island’s monoliths, not to mention the most sacred. On its summit sits ‘sri pada’, a shallow footprint inscribed in rock, which is held sacred by advocates of no less than four religions. Buddhists believe it to be the footprint of the Buddha, Hindus of Shiva, Muslims claim it belongs to Adam and Christians think it to be a vestige of St Thomas, an early Indian apostle. As such, the six pathways up this conical mountain are well-trod pilgrimage routes where Sri Lankans of four faiths often scale it barefoot and with babies in their arms to reach its 2,243m summit. Most climb the mountain under cover of darkness to time their arrival at the top for sunrise when fine mountain panoramas begin to emerge.
The best time to visit Adam’s Peak is during pilgrimage season, which runs from December to the Buddha’s birthday (Wesak) in May. At this time of the year, lights illuminate stepped pathways and rest stops all the way up proffer tasty local snacks, sweets, cool drinks and refreshing cups of sweet milky tea. On weekdays, the routes tend to be less busy than at weekends, full moon days (poya) and public holidays.If you trek out of season the trails are unlit, if walking at night (take a head torch), and the weather is often unpredictable. Highlights of a night climb include the mountain’s mysterious triangle-shaped shadow that lays itself like a cloak over the surrounding plains at sunrise and the striking vistas of jungle, tea hills and lakes as you begin your descent down.