pilgrims ascend Sri Pada

The Ascent

From December to April, pilgrims converge to climb the 2,224 m (7,295 ft) Adam's Peak. At the top is a huge 'footprint', claimed by Muslims to belong to Adam, who stood there in expiation of his sin in the Garden of Eden.

Never mind that Buddhists believe it to be the mark of Buddha or that Hindus hold the print to have been made by Lord Shiva (or that Christians claim it is the footprint of St. Thomas); the fact remains that it is has been a place of pilgrimage for over one thousand years.

The view from the peak at dawn is enough to shock the most cynical agnostic into a state of reverie. It takes about four hours to climb to the top from the town of Dalhousie.

Reaching the base of Adam's Peak is simple and if you're making a night ascent, you've got all day to arrive. Buses run to Dalhousie from Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Colombo in the pilgrimage season. Otherwise you need to get first to Hatton or Maskeliya. If you're really running late, taxis will take you to Hatton or Dalhousie. You'll need to cover 220 km (136 mi) to get there from Colombo.

Plan your trip to Adam's Peak around the monsoon season. While Colombo and surroundings are comfortable year round, heavy rains can be expected from May to August and October to January.

This is why there is a 'season' for the Adam's Peak pilgrimage, i.e. from full moon of December until full moon of May (in 2007 it falls on 1 May). If you try to climb in July-August, you are likely to get soaking wet before reaching the top, where it is cold day and night. Once you get wet, it will be a long night waiting for the sun to come up.

Sure, there are pilgrims who climb year round, and you might even be lucky enough to climb and stay dry and warm. But the chances of that are rather slim in July.

Yes, the climb is well lit year round, so it is safe also. Accommodations are found at the base of the peak but not upon the peak of course, which is cramped especially when there are many pilgrims.

Deraniyagala, Udamaliboda (Ihala-Maliboda) Trail to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak)

Deraniyagala – Ihala maliboda trail is one of the least traveled trails leading to Adam’s peak. It is one of the toughest out of the trails leading to Sripada as well, simply because most of the trail is a though walk through the dense forest of peak wilderness sanctuary on a narrow footpath with rough underfoot conditions. It also involves crossing several waterways, with the risk of flash floods. The first 8km is no where close to any human presence and this remoteness also adds to its difficulty.

Kuruwita Erathna Trail to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak)

Kuruwita – Erathna trail to Sri Pada is the third most popular trail leading to Adam’s peak. This trail is much difficult to tackle than the most popular Hatton-Nallathanni route. While this trail is about 3km longer than the second most popular Rathnapura – Palabathgala route, the trail conditions and the surrounding environment is very much similar to the Palabathgala trail. In fact these two trails meet 2km before the summit

Hatton, Nallathanni Trail to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak)

Hatton – Nallathanni route is the most popular trail to the summit of Sri Pada or Adam’s peak. This trail is the shortest amongst the conventional trails leading to Sripada. Not only it is short, it is also the trail that starts off from the highest elevation which makes it the trail with lowest elevation gain

Rathnapura Palabathgala Trail to Sripada (Adam’s peak)

This trail goes through the evergreen rain forest of the peak wilderness sanctuary and it is closer with the nature compared to the popular Hatton – Maskeliya route to Adam’s peak. Low land vegetation (tall trees – thick canopy) covers the trail at the beginning and vegetation gradually transforms to a mountain cloud forest (shorter, more heavily stemmed, moss covered trees) towards the trail end. Peak wilderness sanctuary is among the best areas for birds and butterflies in Sri Lanka as well