Trekking up Sri Lanka’s most famous & most sacred mountain, Adam’s Peak, the second highest in the country and one of the most beautiful mountain in the world is what you should be doing.
It’s variously known as Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise), or perhaps most poetically as Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain; where butterflies go to die). This solitary mountain with its landmark pyramid shape rises impressively to a height of 2,243 m (7,359 ft) offering at its peak an unrestricted panoramic view of the world below; mist covered mountain peaks, the far way ocean and rivers that look like silver streaks as they spread out to all eternity.
The pilgrimage season to trekking up Sri Lanka’s most sacred mountain begins on poya day in December and runs until the Vesak festival in May (from Unduwap poya (December) to Wesak poya Festival (May), reaching its peak mid-season at Medin poya).
In season, pilgrims and tourists alike make the climb up the countless steps to the top. At other times, the summit’s temple can be unused, and is often obscured by clouds. At this time, there is a constant stream of pilgrims & the top can get very crowded. The busiest period is during January to February.
The climb is still quite possible in the off season too. However, since the path is not lit in the off season you will need a torch at night. It often rains here in the afternoon here, especially in the off-season. At other times the temple on the summit is unused, & between May & October the peak is obscured by cloud for much of the time. Approximately 20,000 people scale Adam’s Peak on weekends during the pilgrimage season. The endless steps can shake the strongest knees, & if the shoes don’t fit well toe-jam starts to hurt too. Hats would come handy since the morning sun gets strong quite fast.
Plastic bags are banned from the trek, with returnable cloth bags dispensed to the pilgrims at the bridges as an alternative. There are tea houses for rest & refreshments all the way to the top, some of which are open through the night. A handful are open out of season. The authorities have banned litter, alcohol, cigarettes, meat & recorded music so that the atmosphere remains suitably reverent.
Since it can get pretty cold & windy on top, there’s little sense in getting to the top too long before the dawn & then having to sit around shivering. Bring warm clothes in any case, including something extra to put on when you get to the summit, & bring plenty of water with you. Some pilgrims wait for priests to make a morning offering before they descend, but the sun quickly rises & the heat does too, so it pays not to linger too long.
Most people do the walk by moonlight, setting off from Dalhousie around 0300, & arriving in time to see the dawn when the “Shadow of the peak” takes place. Alternatively, you could climb up the previous evening & sleep on top of the mountain, though it is very cold up here until well after sunrise so it is essential to take warm clothing & sleeping bags. Either way, it is worth ordering breakfast in advance at the Green House or Yellow House.
It takes about three hours to reach the top (allow an hour either way depending on your fitness). The path is clearly marked throughout, beginning fairly gently but rapidly becoming steeper, with constant steps from about halfway. The climb is completely safe, even the steepest parts being protected, & lined with teashops & stalls if you need a break.
At the top, there are some breathtaking views across the surrounding hills. Steps lead up to the sacred footprint, on top of a 4-m rock, which is covered by a huge stone slab in which has been carved another print. Pilgrims cluster round, throwing offerings in to the 1-m hollow, before moving to the Saman shrine up another flight of stairs where thanks are given. Pilgrims who have made the trip more than three times then ring one of the two bells at the summit, each chime representing a successful ascent.
Source : sripada.org