Home Anaradhapura Kataragama  Mahiyangana Temple Sri Pada Jungle Hikkaduwa N & E  New Temples

© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak

Sri Pada is sacred to all four religions of Sri Lanka - Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem and Christian. January or Duruthu Poya signals the start of the three-month  pilgrimage season to Sri Pada (The Footprint of Buddha) or  Adam's Peak (the footprint of Adam – the first man in the Koran and Bible as Sri Lanka is believed by some to be the Garden of Eden). The tradition is that Buddha’s footprint was left during the first of his three visits to Sri Lanka.  For the Hindus Thai Pongol: Festival around January 14/15 celebrates Surya, the Sun god; Indra, the bringer of rains; and the cow. Although there are always pilgrims to Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak the main 3 month Pilgrimage season starts in January. Ascending Sri Pada is a very satisfying and interesting expedition. The typical way is to climb over night and watch the sun rise from the summit where there is a very moving sunrise ceremony conducted by the Monks and the opportunity to view the site of the sacred footprint. Typical ascents start in the early hours at about 1 am. There is a lighted footpath all the way up and steps which can be uneven in places. There are also several little boutiques serving tea, coffee and light refreshments as well as shrines and Temples where the faithful will say prayers en route.

praying at the beginning of the pilgrimage.

The entrance to Sri Pada

One of the tea stalls. This one was offering free refreshing drinks to Pilgrims.The donors thus gain merit. The time was about 2.30am. Notice the necessary warm clothing pilgrims wear.

 Pilgrims ascending the steps

Pilgrims before one of the Sri Pada shrines

There are many shrines along the way to the summit. Here are some:

Ganesh the elephant god who brings prosperity

Sumana Saman, the god who protects Sri Pada area

Lord Buddha

Pilgrims ascending Sri Pada for the first time often unravel cotton thread all the way to the summit

Pilgrims’ cotton thread

One of the many refreshment boutiques

On the way up to the summit

Nearing the summit

The summit before dawn, this house at the summit “houses” the sacred footprint.

Sunrise at the summit

The summit

Pilgrims at the summit

Pilgrims viewing the sacred footprint, each pilgrim in turn is able to place their forehead on the rock on which the footprint  lies. It is covered by a cloth of gold.

The Puja at dawn is led out by the drummer.

“Warming up” in the bitterly cold dawn