Sri Pada - Adam’s Peak

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Sri Pada, popularly known among the tourists as “Adam’s Peak” offers a perfect nature hike with unmatched trekking experience in the tropical greenery of Sri Lanka.

You will be climbing around 5000 steps in total while enjoying the scenic beauty of the surroundings and the cool breeze. It is an ideal choice for an adventure holiday.


At the top awaits a blessing reward if you reach the summit before the day break, which is the best view of sunrise in Sri Lanka.

Sri Pada is one of the 16 sacred places of worship in Sri Lanka which are believed to be hallowed by visits of Lord Buddha. The footprint enshrined at the mountain peak is a revered symbol for worship for the Buddhists.

Sri Pada Forest reservation & Its Rich Biodiversity

Despite its religious value, this mountain known as “ the Mountain of Butterflies” is a wildlife reserve with many endemic plants and animals including rare leopards and elephants. It is a forest mountain with remarkably rich biodiversity and also is one of the most important water sources of the country from where the three major rivers of the country start.

Adam’s Peak - Location and Details

This giant mountain is located in Rathnapura District which means “The City of Gems”. Rathnapura is the famous city which yields precious gemstones of Sri Lanka owing to which the country was anciently known as “Rathnadeepa'' or the Island of Gems”.

The conical shape of the mountain and its pointed top makes it distinguished from other hills in the vicinity and stands tall and visible for an incredibly long distance.

Located approximately 144.2 km from Colombo, reachable via Avissawella - Hatton - Nuwara Eliya highway in around 5 hours drive, this sacred mountain is 7360 feet high and is the fourth highest mountain in Sri Lanka. It rises prominently above the surrounding greenery and creates a magnificent view for the spectators.

Sri Pada - Historical Background

The Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha in his third visit to Sri Lanka, placed his sacred footprint on the summit of the sacred mountain of “Sri Pada” which accordingly gets its name “The Mountain of Sacred Footprint”.

Sri Pada Mountain is also known as “Samanthkuta” or the Mountain of Sri Saman; the guardian deity of Sri Pada. It is believed that Lord Buddha had visited the mountain to leave his footprint there at the request of Sri Saman who was then an administrator of the region, later venerated by the people as the guardian deity.

Adam’s Peak - Its Multi-cultural Prominence

However, this sacred mountain is considered a multi religious and multi cultural place of reverence since centuries after the legendary visit of Lord Buddha, Hindus started believing it as the footprint of God Shiva while Muslims and Christians believed it to be the footprint of Adam. Thus, it is also known as “Adam’s Peak.

The mountain is also called “Samanala Kanda” or “The Mountain of the Butterflies” due to the inhabitants of the migrating butterflies who are also considered pilgrims.

Sri Pada Climb


Thousands of devotees from around the country visit this greatly revered place of worship during the season starting from December to April. Some locals even take up this challenging climb on an annual basis during the Sri Pada Pilgrimage Season. The most famous route to the peak is via Hatton town though there are several other options.

This climb generally takes around 7 hours. The trek at the beginning is very broad and easy and you will have to climb a long way over thousands of steps up to the summit where the climb is gradually steep.

How To Reach Adam's Peak ?

There are six routes leading to the mountain.

  • Hatton, Nallathanni route also known as Hatton Dalhousie route
  • Ratnapura – Palabaddala route
  • Rajamale trail which is considered the shortest.
  • Deraniyagala-Uda-Maliboda route
  • Hapugathenne-Dehenakanda route
  • Kuruwita-Erathna route

However, there are two famous routes. The most popular is Hatton, Nallathanni route also known as Hatton Dalhousie route. You can reach Hatton town via bus or train from Colombo or any major cities of the country and take a tuk tuk from Hatton town and start your ascent from the small village “Nallathanni”. Distance from Colombo to Hatton 132 Km which will take approximately 4 hours via Avissawella - Hatton - Nuwara Eliya Highway. Distance from Hatton to Dalhousie is around 32 km via Hatton - Maskeliya - Dalhousie road which will take about 1 hour in a tuk tuk.

The other route is Rathnapura - Palabaddala route. This route is considered the oldest of all the routes and it is believed that this is the route which was used by the kings during the ancient times. Both the routes are preferred due to the picturesque views along the way.

On your way to Sri Pada

Your journey on curvy mountain roads allows you to enjoy the scenic beauty from both sides. The passing tea estates and mountains create a magnificent view.

Maha saman Devalaya is a beautiful shrine you will come across on your way to Sri Pada in Rathnapura. The devotees consider it material to visit this shrine and obtain the blessings of the guardian deity before they climb the great mountain of Sri Pada.

Maha Saman Devale

Great Saman Temple is the shrine dedicated to the guardian deity of Sri Pada. Devalaya is located in Rathnapura - Panadura road. The temple is well known for the huge entrance gate which is decorated with carvings. There are beautiful paintings and sculptures of historic value inside this temple.

This temple is built in a beautiful location and is considered an age-old temple initially constructed in the 13th century and later rebuilt and renovated over time owing to damage caused by the invaders like Portuguese.

The Mountain Base and Seetha Gangula

Once you reach the destination, the base of the mountain has a parking area and there are many shops and small hotels that will facilitate you with refreshments before you commence your epic climb.

Before starting the ascent you can have an amazing river bath at the “Seetha Gangula” located at the base of the mountain. The ice cool river bathing gives you the required motivation to begin the climb. The devotees find it important to clean themselves at the river before they start the climb.

At the Entrance

There is no entrance fee. You can park vehicles at the parking slots which will incur a reasonable cost. The local Police Station is located close to the entrance. You can obtain information from there if you have any queries.


adams-peak Dansal

There are plenty of small huts on your way up the hill. They offer you hot tea and small snacks. Some are totally free. There are voluntary service providers who offer tea and snacks for free. Some offer herbal teas as well. They call it “Dansal” which provides food and beverage for free for the benefit of the climbers with goodwill and for merit.

You can also buy hot noodles, hoppers and many other food items along with hot milk tea or plain tea from small tea houses by the sides of the steps. You can sip the hot tea and have a small rest on your long hike. Once you start your climb, you will realize how helpful it is to have these services which makes your trip a lively one.

A Unique Nature Walk

Regardless of the different faiths upheld by the devotees, the mountain climb gives you a unique nature experience. Your way to the summit is a climb through the forest mountain reservation where you will encounter greenery from all sides.

At the beginning you find leveled pathways easy for walking. Some steps go through lush greenery and are steep at certain points. A quite a long distance goes through a valley with beautiful green mountains on both sides. You have concrete platforms and rustic steps too whereas you find one or two bridges over the tributaries. There are small water streams as well where you can wash your hands and face to get refreshed.

There are many trails that lead to the summit and some have many waterfalls as well on the way. The trail has stairs and hand railings for the ease of the pilgrims. You can also enjoy bird watching and seeing monkeys.

There are many small temples located on your way and some have small museums with many relics and they also have souvenir shops from where you could buy a few souvenirs. One such place of stop is the Japanese Peace Temple. You won’t miss it if you take the Hatton-Nallathanni route.

Rituals for the Pilgrims


Sri Pada is a pilgrimage for the locals which they believe that one should accomplish at least once in a lifetime. Hence, there are age-old rituals associated with this sacred visit. Some stay vegetarian and refrain from alcohol and smoking for a period of 7 to 14 days so that they are physically and mentally prepared for this sacred journey.

The pilgrims sing beautiful folk songs while they climb the mountain and bless each other for a safe journey. The most popular lines exchanged are as follows.


Those who descend the mountain would sing:

“Wadinna yana me nadeta Sumana Saman Devi Pihitai ”.

Which means “May the blessings of Lord Buddha be with those who ascend the mountain”.

Those who ascend the mountain would sing in reply:

“Wedala bahina me nadeta Saman Devi Pihitai”.

Which means “May the blessings of Lord Buddha be with those who descend the mountain”.

They practice best behaviours and they also maintain discipline with the words they use. They usually avoid negative statements regarding the sacred climb and stay positive and faithful till the end of the journey.

Gethtampana or Idikatupana for first time visitors


Idikatupana is a place in the middle of your climb and it is associated with a ritual for the first time visitors to the Sri Pada. First Timers are known as “Kodukara” and are required to carry a needle and a thread (You can buy one from the shops at the base of the mountain which is not at all expensive) when they climb the sacred mountain. They are required to place it at Idikatupana where you will see a lot of threads and needles there.


The Summit - The Shrine

Once you are very close to the peak, there is usually a queue as people gather in line to worship at the shrine. However, you will tolerate the stay since you can rest seated on the steps during the waiting time.

You will be able to witness the foot-print shaped mark on a rock which is of considerable size and decorated for worship. It is believed to be the left footprint of Lord Buddha which indicates the Lord Buddha’s presence and the importance of Sri Lanka as a place where Buddha’s path is followed and practiced.


There is also a shrine dedicated for the guardian deity “saman” at the summit. There is also a huge bell at the top of the temple. It is a tradition that the devotees can ring it as many times as they have climbed this revered mountain.

The View from the Peak

You can witness a magnificent view of the sunrise if you reach the peak by early morning. You will see the sunrise as a small orange dot before which there will be a plethora of colours in the sky along with milky clouds amidst the mist. For a few minutes, believe me, heaven would be in front of your eyes.


You will love the 360 degree view of the surroundings from there and would not feel like starting your descent from the hilltop. But you should start your way back before the sun gets hotter since your descent will be harder later.

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Sri Pada is between December and April which is the pilgrimage season or the peak. Climbing during the off peak is highly risky due to heavy rains, the mist and the wind and sometimes the interference of wild animals. In fact, pilgrims are encouraged to climb the mountain during the season so that we won’t be disturbing the habitats of the wild animals in the forest reservation.

However, it is better to avoid the public holidays and Poya days during the season if you wish to avoid crowds. During Poya days sometimes you will have to wait in a queue towards the later part of your climb when the steps are narrow. You will have to wait in one step for a considerable time to climb the next.

The best time of the day to start your ascent is night time. You can make use of the favourable cool climate during the night in which you won’t feel very tired. Since the pathway is properly lit and also there are small benches and shops located on your way, the night climb is not at all inconvenient.

Many groups of pilgrims climbing the mountain sing folk songs and make the climbing a very entertaining one. They also share different kinds of local Sri Lankan snacks that give you quick strength. One such item is “aggala”; a sweetmeat made of the seeds of Jackfruit, rice flour, sugar and black pepper. The ingredients are such that you will gain quick strength as well as tolerance to the cool climate.

Locals often climb in groups with someone who has had previous experience who is referred to as “Nadeguru”, so that they can properly plan the hike and reach the summit by the time of sunrise to enjoy the unmatched scenery from the summit.

Usually it will take around 6 hours for the total trek if you are fit and an experienced one. However, many people enjoy the journey by leisurely being engrossed in it which will sometimes take around 8 to 10 hours.

Availability of a Supporting System during the Season

There is another important reason why we should travel during the season, unless you are a well trained professional hiker. There is a very interesting supporting system that has been formed over the years for the climbers during the pilgrimage season. You are in safer hands in any case of unforeseen emergency since there are officials from the forces and other helping hands on your way.

Starting from the entrance gate itself, you can find small boutiques that provide support services which are open only during the season. There are small retail shops and mini-restaurants that will sell you drinking water, different beverages and food items on your way up to the summit. Small rest places and wash room facilities are also available in running condition only during the season. However, you cannot expect high standard washroom facilities.


Furthermore, they rent mats and bed sheets for a nap on your way if you feel tired. You can also buy hand gloves, scarfs, jackets, coats, socks and other clothing you would require to make yourself comfortable with the cold climate when you reach the peak during the night .


Climbing Sri Pada During Off-season

Heavy rain, fog and wind makes it a hard job to climb the mountain during off season. You need to beware of wild monkeys and leeches as well. On the other hand, there will be no shops or support services around.

At the same time, one can feel it much easier to climb the steps during the off season due to less crowd. With less crowd and less noise, you will enjoy more of the nature around you. But make sure that you are physically fit enough to take the challenge of climbing the giant mountain without the support services found during the season.

However, let me share my personal opinion regarding the climb during the off season. It is always a blessed journey to embrace the nature in this sacred mountain specifically during the time allocated for the humans. Otherwise we are so loud, disturbing and equally annoying to the natural habitants of the area who find peace during the off season.

Important Tips

A pair of shoes suitable for hiking, relaxed clothing and less baggage would be helpful for a comfortable trekking experience. A favourable fitness level is all that it takes.

One can consider it as a trip to discover 100% accurate fitness test results based on your rate of success. However, it is a point to note that very old local devotees too climb this sacred mountain at least once in two or three years that also is barefoot ! It is a matter of trust, confidence and your solid determination to climb it.


Some warm clothing will be very helpful at the upper slopes which are freezingly cold at night and early morning. An ice cap to cover your ears would be very helpful. It is better to carry a torch, a water bottle, some snacks and a camera for sure.

You can also book a local guide to climb the mountain with you. Some may leave you at the entrance from where you need to head up on your own. You will have to specifically get clarified before making your booking regarding the extent to which they will stay with you.

According to my personal experience, the most difficult part of it is to descend the mountain all the way back. Now you have heavy feets and less enthusiasm. Yet, you should keep in mind that now you are going to discover the most of its beauty which you missed in your climb at night.

Remember to book a nearby hotel to the mountain base so that you can rest after your epic climb. You will thank me for this tip for sure.

The experience of climbing the mountain will be a memorable one if you mingle with the locals and climb it leisurely while enjoying the nature around you.

One of the important advice of the elderly locals is that you should not rush uphill with the intention of reaching the peak as quickly as possible and accomplish the mere target of climbing it. The real journey lies within. You should climb while enjoying it. Just as how you would enjoy the journey of your life each day within the precious time endowed upon you.

Meanwhile, all the visitors are always kindly requested to leave this amazing beauty of nature as it is, leaving only footprints and taking only memories.

Believe me, this epic climb is one of a lifetime experience and your effort is totally worth it. A must visit during your stay in Sri Lanka.

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