Located in a beautiful and fascinating area of the southern Hill Country , this lofty peak has sparked the imagination for centuries . It is variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven ) , Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint , left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise ) or Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain , where butterflies go to die ) .
Whichever legend you care to believe , this place has been a pilgrimage centre for around 1000 years . King Parakramabahu and King Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa provided ambalamas (resting places to shelter weary pilgrims ) up the mountain . These days the pilgrimage season begins on poya day in December and runs until Vesak festival in May . The busiest period is January and February . At other times the temple on the summit is unused , and between May and October the peak is obscured by clouds for much of the time . During the pilgrimage season a steady stream of pilgrims (and the odd tourist ) makes the climb up the countless steps to the top . They leave from the small settlement of Dalhousie (del-house ) , 33km by road southwest of the tea town of Hatton , which is on the Colombo-Kandy-Nuwara Eliya railway and road . The route is illuminated in season by a string of lights , look very pretty as they snake up the mountainside . Out of to season you can still do the walk ; you’ll just need a torch . Many pilgrims prefer to make the longer , much more tiring – but equally well-marked and lit – seven-hour climb from Ratnapura via the Carney Estate , because of the greater merit thus gained .
It’s not only the sacred footprint that pilgrims seek . As the first rays of dawn light up the holy mountain you’re treated for an extremely fine view – the Hill Country rises to the east , while to the west the land slopes away to sea . Colombo , 65km away , is easily visible to a clear day . It’s little wonder that English author John Stills , in his book Jungle Tide , described the peak as ‘one of the vastest and most reverenced cathedrals of the human race ‘ .