The Adam's Peak (in Sanskrit: Sri Pada, in Sinhala: Siri Pada) is located in the Ratnapura area. However, you can get here from Hatton, Maskeliya and Dickoya. This peak is on the edge of the central mountain range.
The book on the sixth voyage of Sinbad about Sri Pada is written here as a fairy legend: «Now the island of Serendib (the old Arabic name of Sri Lanka) is under the celestial equator, night and day here are equal to twelve o'clock… The mountain is visible from a distance of three days, and it contains many rubies and other minerals, and spice trees of all kinds. I climbed that mountain for the purpose of her miracles, which are indescribable, and afterwards I returned to the King.»
About Sri Pada has already been said and written so much that we could hardly add your knowledge. Therefore, we decided to dwell on legends and ancient annals describing the sacred mountain.
An ancient pilgrimage, which for centuries attracted thousands of pilgrims, perhaps all faiths, is a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Sri Pada. Usually this place is known in English as the Adam Peak. It is a conical mountain of 2,243 meters in height, which soars higher than all the nearest mountains. According to legend, when Buddha visited the island of Ceylon, he left one imprint of his foot in the north of Sri Lanka, and another imprint on Mount Sumana Kuta (Adam's Peak).
According to another legend, the Buddha left an imprint of his left foot on Adam's Peak, and then, taking one big step, ended up in Siam (now Thailand), where he left an imprint from his right foot. These two prints found in Sri Lanka and Thailand are similar in size to almost exactly the same size.
General Sir A. Cunningham, in his report on the visit of Stupa Bharhut, known from the second century BC, wrote: «Buddha's tracks were the most likely object of veneration from a very early period — certainly in front of the Bharut Stupa — because they are represented in two separate sculptures. In sculpture, traces are placed in the throne or altar, covered with an umbrella and garlands. The royal character kneels in front of the altar, and reverently touches the traces with his own hands. „
Alexander the Great on the sacred mountain of Sri Pada?
The peak of Adam, as it was known to the early West, was in the center of attention at all times, even before the recorded history of the island. The legends surrounding the sacred place on the mountain existed before the Christian era. The axiom that humanity has been engaged in the worship of deities in high places since times of deep antiquity. Why? High inaccessible places inspired fear, and veneration from the time of the primordial religion of man — the creed of nature. The cult was preserved in the pagan world even before the early Greek and Roman times.
By the time the illustrious son of Macedon, Alexander the Great, the Greek king of war and the builder of the empire, is believed to have visited Sri Pada (circa 324 BC), the peak of the mountain was already in veneration. After the conquest of the Persian Empire, Alexander was opposed by Porus, the Indian king and his cohorts of soldiers who fought Alexander's army on elephants. These huge animals were unfamiliar to the soldiers of the Greek cavalry. Elephants created a huge obstacle in the advance of Alexander's army inside Hindustan. Frightened horses rushed into a stampede and began to disperse into uncontrollable and extreme panic. Afraid of the mutiny of his own army, Alexander decided to reach an agreement with Porus. After his exchange of fire with the Indian king, the restless Alexander skirted the south-west coast of India and followed further south, where he heard of the incredible island of Sri Lanka, known to the early Greeks as Taprobana. Here, Alexander was informed of the sacred fastening of Sri Pada, which is dedicated to the Sri Lankan deity Samana. The place called Samantakuti drew his attention. The peak with its proud turret attracted the attention of the commander-in-chief with his charming prospect. The mountain for Alexander was too attractive, and Alexander, inclined to pleasure, did not resist, having gone to distant Lanka, to the sacred mountain.
The poet and chronicler from Persia of the 15th century Ashraff describes this odyssey of Alexander to Sri Pada in his work “Zaffer Namah Skandari.» After arriving on the island and indulging his retinue in orgies and carousing, he explores the wonders of the island. Here Alexander, as is known, relied on the data of the philosopher Bolinas, the famous Greek occultist and magician who wrote that he personally ascended to the sacred peak, zealously guarded by various deities.
Among the equipment invented by that time to climb the almost inaccessible peak, there were massive iron chains attached to the supports attached to the bare rock. The chains were attached to the supports by rivets made of iron and bronze. The remnants of these lifting mechanisms still exist. Early pilgrims to the peak resorted to using these chains to climb to the very top.
Ibn Batuta, a romantic traveler of a 14th-century pilgrim wrote in his memoirs: «The ancient people took steps on the vertical face of the rock. This was helped by iron supports with attached chains to allow pilgrims to climb to the top with ease and minimum risk. „
In addition to the meager and very discreet descriptions of the Arab sources, the story is oddly silent for more than seventeen centuries about the fact that Alexander visited Lanka Island and his journey to Sri Pada. None of the known chronicles, including the Chronicle of “Mahavamsa» or any other historical record, does not record the fact of Alexander's and his army's stay on the island. History researchers claim that Alexander's deeds were centered mainly around Persia and the Persian Empire. And the legends and folklore of the early Persians were, as a matter of course, transferred to the Arab descendants.
Commenting on the ancient means of ascension on Sri Pada, the Englishman Robert Percival, who served in the British garrison in Colombo at the beginning of the 19th century, wrote: «The iron chains on the rock of Adam's Peak appeared and established there in a very early period. Who put them there and for what purpose they were set up there, it's hard to learn anything. Beliefs and superstition of the island's natives are difficult. Regardless of what it is, all the evidence points to the fact that Peak was in the spotlight still far away from the recorded history of the island.»
Travels of Ibn Batuta
Let's be back to Ibn Batuta. Here is what he wrote: «We then came to a place called the seven caves, and then to Alexander's Ridge, in which a cave and a spring of water. In this place — the entrance to the mountain. This mountain Serendib is one of the highest in the world: we saw it from the sea at a distance of nine days. When we climbed the mountain, we saw how the clouds passed between us. On this mountain a large number of trees, whose leaves never fall. There are also flowers of different colors, a red rose, the size of the palm of the hand. On leaves, as local people think, they can read the name of God and his Prophet. There are two roads on the mountain leading to the foot (Adam). That track is known as the „Path of the Roman Lord“ or „The Trace of the Mother“, what they mean to Adam and Eve. The path to the Mother's Following is easy: the travelers come upon him during their first visit to the place. But everyone who traveled only there, is considered, as if he did not make a pilgrimage at all. The path along the path The Roman Lord is difficult because of the ascent. At the bottom of the mountain, where the entrance is, there is a minaret, named after Alexander, and a fountain with water. Ancient people have cut the road, and where you can climb, installed in iron pins attached chains. Of these chains, there are ten in number, the last of which is called the „witness chain“, because when one reaches the top looks down, a terrible understanding embraces him that he must fall. After the tenth chain is passed, there will be a cave of Hizr, in which there is a large place. And in the entrance there is good, water full of fish. But no one takes it. Near this place on each side of the path in the rock. In this cave of Hizra, pilgrims leave their gifts, and whatever they have, then climb about two miles to the top of the mountain, to the place of the foot (Adam). The holy leg is in the stone, as if this place were lowered. The length of the foot is 11 impressions. The Chinese came here at some earlier time, and cut the size of the big toe from this stone. Together with a piece of stone left and placed him in a temple in the city of Zeytun. And pilgrimages now come from the remotest parts of China. In the rock there are nine places from the excavations, which were completed. In them, unbelieving pilgrims were looking for gold, rubies, and other jewels. Therefore, you will see fakirs who came as pilgrims to the source of Hizr, racing really to become the first in the excavations, and to get what can be in them. We, however, found only a little gold with some rubies, which we gave to our guide. „
At the top of the peak is an imprint of the left foot, defined as the footprint of the Buddha, about 160 cm in length. The imprint in the rock in Thailand, which we have already mentioned, contains, it is believed, the imprint of the right foot of the Buddha, about the same size as on Sri Pada. Buddhists attribute this miraculous coincidence to the fact that the Buddha was about 10 meters tall! At the same time, the real track on the Adam Peak, some believe, is left below the visible part of the rock.
Adam of Heaven
Muslims believe that this is the footprint of Adam's foot. Christians believe that this is the imprint of the foot of St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus. Hindus believe that this is the foot of Lord Siva. Next to the rock is a shrine containing images (one of which is made of silver) of the god Saman and the priest Bramin, performing sacred rituals in this shrine. In front of the shrine is a small altar, on which pilgrims place camphor lamps and illuminated candles.
Much has been written about this mountain from time immemorial inhabitants of the island, as well as foreigners. Adam's peak is the second highest peak in the island, while Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain, is 2520 meters high. People from all walks of life climb this mountain, beginning in December of each year. It is an exciting experience in every sense of the word. In his famous book The God of Adam's Peak Professor Senerata Paranawithana, a well-known archaeologist, historian and scientist, wrote in 1957: “Among the numerous peaks of the mountains that rise above the central mountain range of Ceylon, the most famous, though not the highest, — Mount Adam Peak, known among the Sinhalese as Siri Pada (Blessed, Sacred Footprint) or Samanal Kanda (Mount of God Samana). The upper part of the mountain, towering like a turret, is seen in many places in the plains and from the sea. On the steep slopes of the mountain it is difficult to climb, but when one comes up with chains, or walking along a shortened path on the rocks, he encounters scenes of indescribable splendor, especially if the ascent is reached at sunrise. Geographically, Adam's Peak is important as the main watershed of the Island of Ceylon. The island's four main rivers, including the Mahaveli Ganges, the longest river, have springs from this mountain, and flow to the sea on the east, west and south-east coasts. The areas in the south and east of the Adam Peak lead to precious emeralds, rubies, sapphires, etc., to which the island was known, and which earned for its ancient name Rathnadwipa (Island of Precious Stones).»
God Saman is one of these four gods who pledged to protect the island and Buddhism in Lanka according to Mahavamsa, the early chronicle of Sri Lanka. Upalvan, Vibhishana and Skanda are the other three deities. God Saman was the object of worship until the Kingdom of Kandy fell under the influence of the Nayakkar dynasty from the south of India. They introduced the goddess Pattini, who replaced the God of Saman.
During his first visit to the Buddha Mahiyangana preached in Lanka. One of the prominent figures was Maha Sumana Samantha Kuta. Maha Sumana received the first fruits on the path to attain nirvana (Sotapatti Phala) and asked the Buddha for a matter of faith. The Buddha gave him a bunch of hair from his head, and this hair was stored in the first dagome, built in Sri Lanka throughout the life of the Buddha on the initiative of Maha Sumana.
When Buddha visited the island for the last time in Kelaniya, at the request of Maha Sumana Buddha left his mark on the mountain, according to Mahavamsa. However, Professor Paranavitana notes that earlier chronicles, Deepawamsa or Samantha Buddhagos, have no reference to Maha Sumanu. Maha Sumana has never been identified as a Hindu God. At the same time, two significant devas built in Ratnapura and Mahiyangana are dedicated to this God.
The first historical mention of Siri Pada (Sinhalese version of the utterance of Sri Pada) found its place during the reign of Vijayabahu. Professor Paranawithana states: «This place became famous during the reign of Vijayabahu (1055-1110 AD). We have the earliest historical evidence in the chronicles and inscriptions of the Cult cult at the Adam's Peak of that time. It is recorded in the chronicles of the monarch himself. He, seeing the difficulties faced by pilgrims during the worship of the Buddha's trail on Samantha Kuta, ordered the founding of a village called Gilimale to provide for their needs. The stone inscriptions of Vijayabakh were found in Gilimala and Ambagamuwa, which is a confirmation of the chronicle.»
Nissankamalla (the Dravidian King during the Polonnaruwa period), who ascended the Sinhalese throne in 1187 AD, announced that he would visit Samantha Kutu with her numerous army and worship the Following with great devotion. He also left the inscriptions found in the cave of Ambagamuwa, known as Bhagawalena. Nissankamalla put a concrete slab on Sri Pada to protect the Trail.
The Pali poem «Samantha Kuta Wannana», written by a monk named Vedeha in the 13th century, confirms the increasing interest of Sinhalese Buddhists in the cult of the Trail of the Foot. In the recorded history, a large number of ancient kings visited the mountain. Parakramabahu II (1225-1269) visited Sri Pada and paid tribute to Footprint. His Minister Devaprasiraja built roads leading to the mountain, and set up iron chains in iron posts to make the climb easy, and also held great festivals for the honoring of the Trail. The son Parakramabahu, Vijayabahu, and other kings such as Wickramabahu, Wimala Dharmasuriya (1687-1707), his son Narendrahingha (1707-1730) were among the Sinhalese kings who visited Sri Padu to pay tribute to the Footprint.
King Vimala Dharmasuriya built a silver umbrella over Trail. Rajasingha I (1581-1593), who became a Hindu convert, also visited Sri Pada. Sri Vijaya Rajasingha (King of Nayakkar), who became King of Kand in 1739, also visited the mountain. Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-1789), during whose reign the Buddhist Renaissance took place, visited the sacred mountain. He also donated the village of Kattapitya to a copper tank with precious plates in support of the donation. The Manimekalei, a Tamil poem written in the 6th century outside the island, refers to the Buddha's Footsteps at the high peak of Samantha Kuta and tells the story of spiritual beings.
The season of pilgrimage to the holy mountain of Sri Pada (also known as Siri Pada, Samantakuta, Samanhela, Samangira, Samanalakanda and Samanalagira) begins annually on the December full moon day in December and ends on the full moon of Vesak in May. During this time, pilgrims climb the mountain to pay tribute to the sacred footprint that Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims regard as holy according to their personal beliefs. Therefore Sri Pada is the only mountain in the world, receiving donations and honoring devotees belonging to different faiths.
The oldest route runs from Ratnapura through Gilimale, Eratna, Kuruwita, Malwala and Palabaddala, to Sithagangula (the parent stream of the Kuluganga river). Even today, pilgrims view this route as a difficult road, and very stuffed with leeches because of the damp climate. Pilgrims must start climbing upwards and descending down the narrow passages to Palabaddala, the last inhabited village on the road. In most places the path is narrow, rough and rocky and surrounded by dense forests. This route went down in history during the period of Polonnaruwa and King Vijayabahu (1055-1110), who made a pilgrimage along this path. He built camps for pilgrims along the path. The pointer on the rock Ambagamuva and the copper plate of Panakaduwa testify to his generosity. On the same path, King Kirti Nissankamalla (1187-1196) continued his pilgrimage with his army.
Sitagangula (the Stream of Icy Water) is an important landmark on the way up. Here, pilgrims after performing body cleansings, squat for a modest meal or for rest. Many chew betel. And after an expression of homage to God Samana, people begin to climb the mountain to reach the summit in a place called Indikathupahana, a popular recreation camp. From this point, a long series of steps leads the pilgrims to meet with the cherished shrine. In the old days, pilgrims climbed the mountain, stepping on the bare surface of the cliff and clinging to the chains attached to the iron pillars driven into the rocky floor. One day, a group of pilgrims fell into the abyss below, when the pillars for which people were holding broke, probably because of the huge weight of the whole group. Previously, the most dangerous part of the ascent was a place known as Mahagiridamba, where pilgrims exposed to a strong wind were at risk of being carried away.
Pilgrims try to reach the top of Sri Pada at dawn to view the great phenomenon of nature, known as Ira Sevaya (Radiance of the Rising Sun). The first rays of the luminary pierce the eastern horizon like a sultry beauty, casting a shadow from the mountain to the valley on the opposite side in the form of a regular geometric cone. Ira Seva means that personally the Sun God confirms her confession of the sanctity of the Foot on the top of Sri Pada.
At the top of the mountain there is a huge oil lamp that illuminates the pilgrims' way all night, during the entire open season of pilgrimage. The lamp was proposed by King Vickramabahu III (1360-1375). The oil of this lamp is collected by pilgrims for medicinal purposes.
The pilgrimage tour to Sri Pada is a wonderful occasion to get acquainted with the history of Sri Lanka. The trip is very recommended to you when you stay in Ratnapura or in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka, and you also come to the area of Hatton. On your desire to visit Adam's Peak, please contact your Lankarus manager. Visits to Sri Pada are in offer in some of the Lankarus travel packages as well.