Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

As Sri Lankans it’s most of our dream to climb ‘Sri Pada’ (the Adam’s Peak) before we die. Yes it’s not an easy hike since there is a special season to climb this beautiful & sacred mountain. The season is over the first 6 months of the year Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka. During the off season the entire mountain will get heavy rain & the paths will be flooded since the heavy rainwater flowing down. Ancestors say it’s during the off season that elephants devote the sacred Sri Pada. So in detail, here is my Adam’s Peak travel guide.

Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Night shot of the trail – Sri Pada season

Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Peak on weekends – Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak Travel Guide
When to go to Adam's Peak

Most people reach the top in time for dawn, which offers the best odds of seeing the extraordinary views free from the cloud. As well as a chance a glimpsing the peak’s enigmatic shadow with the glorious sunrise.

The pilgrimage season starts on the Unduwap poya day in December & continues until the Vesak poya in May. During the season the weather on the mountain is at its best, the steps up the mountainside are also illuminated & little stalls & tea-shops open through the night to cater to the throngs of weary pilgrims dragging themselves up.

It’s perfectly possible, if less interesting, to climb the mountain out of season, though none of the tea-shops is open & the lights are turned off. So you’ll need to bring a torch. You can also climb the mountain by day, but the summit is often obscured by the cloud & even if it’s clear you won’t see the famous shadow.

Routes - Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

The Glorious Shadow – This was taken by my brother on his 2nd attempt to Adam’s Peak

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

Kuruwita – Erathna trail is the trail where the king used to climb Sri Pada. So people used to call this trail as ‘Raja Mawatha’. This trail is a little bit difficult to tackle than the Hatton-Nallathanni route. While this trail is about 3km longer than the Rathnapura-Palabathgala route, the trail conditions & the surrounding environment is very much similar to the Palabathgala trail & greenly. In fact, these two trails meet 2km before the summit. distance is 14km to the top.

|| Rathnapuda Palabathdala Trail to Sri Pada (Adam's peak)

This trail goes through the 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. Peak wilderness sanctuary is among the best areas for birds & butterflies in Sri Lanka as well. The total distance is 11km to the summit.

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

Hatton – Nallathanni route is the most popular trail to the summit of Adam’s peak. This trail is the shortest among the conventional trails leading to Sripada. Not only it is short, but it is also the trail that starts off from the highest elevation which makes it the trail with lowest elevation gain and the total distance is 5km only.

|| 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 without trails. It also involves crossing several waterways. The first 8km is nowhere close to any human presence.

Story Behind the Name
Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Sri Pada or Sacred Footprint, The original Buddhist story claims that this is the footprint of the Buddha himself, made at the request of the local God Saman. different faiths subsequently modified this to suit their own contrasting theologies.

Around the eighth century, Muslims began to claim the footprint to be that of Adam, who is said to have first set foot on earth here after being cast out of heaven.

Hindus meanwhile, claimed that the footprint was created by Shiva.

The colonial Portuguese attempted to rescue the footprint for the Christian faith, claiming that it belonged to St Thomas, the founder of the religion in India, though no one seems to have ever taken this random assertion very seriously.

Our Journey

When year 2020 struck with many long weekends in the calendar our family decided to climb Adam’s Peak during on the 10th of January. To be honest this is my first proper hike so we wanted our cousins to join us too.

On the 9th Friday we drove to Balangoda which is my mother’s home town & we all decided to meet there, arrange a vehicle to go together. So our troupe consisted of 4 elders & 6 youngsters.

Adams peak travel guide

On the way to Hatton

10th Saturday

15300hrs – We left Balangoda to reach Sri Padaya from the Hatton-Nallathanni entrance. We drove through Hatton which was surrounded in a cold weather and a beautiful environment full of tea estates & tall tress with few water falls that appears hear and there. Since it was a full moon poya day we could see the moon which was so gigantic & bright in the evening sky. It was only 6.00 pm but it was so clear at that time.

1900hrs we reached Nallathanni Sri Pada entrance we barely got some space to park the vehicle since it was packed with so many buses and other vehicles… so you can imagine what the crowd is going to be like.. We bought some mittens , ice caps to keep us warm and also  this special packet called ‘Kodu Packets’ which is for the first time climbers. They say it’s a ritual that all the first climbers should do. Inside the packet there was a needle, a long thread, some incense sticks I’ll explain what you have to do with this later on.

Adams Peak Travel Guide
Adams peak Travel Guid

1930hrs – We Began our hike this was one of my biggest dream come true. As I mentioned earlier it was pretty crowded. A small hint: don’t ever climb Sri Padaya during a long weekend you’ll get to know why very soon. Even though it’s a  mountain there are steps till the peak (on this route).

There are small shops with snacks & drinks on either sides but the higher you reach the shops are also increasing the price. It’s fair enough because they have to carry all these items which they sell on the top of the mountain. I know that you won’t believe from the dishes to the gas cylinders they have to keep it on their shoulders & climb the steps. I felt sorry for those people but that is how they find their daily bread.

Sitha Gangula

2030hrs – On our way to the top, the first stop will be ‘Sitha Gagula’. This is where we clean ourselves & refresh a little before the proper hike starts. Sitha Gagula is a small stream of a waterfall where the water is cold as ice. It was 8.30pm but you can see people bathing in this cold water since it’s a ritual. We rubbed some lime & turmeric on our faces, arms & legs & just washed it off with cold water. Since we are not used to the cold weather.

Then we had our dinner it was separate rice packets wrapped in banana leaves. If you are climbing Adam’s Peak please make sure you bring eco friendly items to this premises & dispose it properly. Bring them back is the best thing that you can do. Then we crossed the small bridge that goes on top of Sita Gagula & we lit some oil lamps. I wished “may this journey be a success without any harm for us….”

Then we started to climb those steps little by little by taking small breaks in between & we could hear some troupes are saying ‘ Thun Sarane Kavi’ these are like small songs that you say out loud and get the involvement of other troupes as well so that you don’t feel tired while hiking.

Some volunteers served us ’Samahan’ which is a herbal drink to stay hydrated. In some places people served us hot tea & coffee with jaggery. It was such refreshing to have a hot cup of coffee in that cold weather at night.

Adams peak travel guide
Adams peak travel guide

Indikatu Pana, Gettham pana

2200hrs – Reached ‘Idikatupana’ another special stop where we have to complete another ritual. This was the time to take use of that ‘Kodu Packet’ which I mentioned earlier. The 1st time climbers have to thread the needle tangle it in one corner of the railing & drag the thread to the top until it finishes. It was quite a big chaos since it was too crowded in that place. From ‘Idikatupana’ until we reach the top. We climbed, 1 step for every 10 minutes it was that packed. That is why you should not climb Sri Padaya during long weekends.


Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

The Last Tea Shop – Mahagiridamba

0200hrs – The following day we managed to be at ‘Maha Giri Dambaya’ this was the most difficult part to climb during the entire hike. Since the steps were narrow & it’s a slope. So only 2 people could move together in one step. We could see how religious these people are because some are hiking while carrying small children & some were in their late 70’s. Among all these people there are youngsters like us who are enjoying it to the maximum.

The higher you climb the more you feel the cold. I was wearing a sweater on top of my T- shirt but still it wasn’t enough for me to get warmed. So I took a shawl, wrapped my head and covered my face as well. The cold breeze comes right on to our faces as the temperature indicated 12°C

I couldn’t keep a track of the temperature after that because my phone was dead but I’m pretty sure it was less than that by the time we reached the top. Since it was too crowded people didn’t move from Maha Giri Dambaya for another 4 hours so I sat on a step & had a small nap. I could see others are also seated where they were & resting.

Sunrise Adams peak - Adam's peak Travel Guide

Sunrise – Adam’s Peak

0530hrs – It was time to see the sun rise which is also known as the ‘Ira Sewaya’ we wasn’t lucky enough to see the beautiful sunrise because our view was covered with some trees. I was actually sad about it. My cousin had climbed Sri Padaya 4 times so he told me “during the sun rise the shadow of the mountain lays on the land which you can see from the top & the light of the sun’s rays covers the peak of the mountain” I could only imagine the beauty of it. I think he will upload a snap of that in here later.

We had some biscuits & hot plain tea before we reach the top. By 1915hrs we managed to reach the top. I got happy tears because I finally made it to the peak. We worshipped the footprint of Lord Buddha. There are 3 huge bells hanging on a side where devotees bang it according to the number of times they have hiked Adam’s Peak. So I rang my first this time hoping to continue more in the future.

Then we started to climb down by 1000hrs with pleasant thoughts & blessings we got. To be honest during the entire journey I didn’t feel tired at all. The view from the top was magnificent. All I could see was the clear blue sky & shades of green at the slope. There were few lakes here & there, which made the view complete. I know that I will never forget this experience it was truly a dream come true.

A small note you should keep in your mind Sri Padaya is one of the world’s heritage site that we have in our country so make sure you leave only your footprints in this beautiful pilgrimage destination. Also don’t forget to share my “Adam’s Peak travel guide” if you think that this is useful.


Guest Post : Santhushi Rodrigo

This video is about my 4th attempt to Adam’s Peak on the 10th Dec2019

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