24 December 2009
Sri Pada Mountain
This iconic conical peak is the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka. It is known by several names like Sri Pada (holy foot print), Siri Pada, Samanala Kanda (Butterfly Mountain) and Adam’s Peak.
The mountain is visited and worshipped by all communities of Sri Lanka as well as foreigners. Buddhists believe that the Lord Buddha once came to the top of this mountain and marked his sacred foot print. Similarly Hindus believe Lord Shiva has set his foot at the same place. Also there is a belief that Adam, the first man on earth set his foot there after he was exiled from the Garden of Eden.
The mountain is about 7300 feet tall and is one of the highest mountains in Sri Lanka. More importantly it has the highest ascend out of all mountains in the country. The climb is around 3000 feet from the foot of the mountain to the summit.
Every year thousands climb to the top to worship the sacred foot print and earn blessings. The Siri pada pilgrimage season starts from December full moon day and ends in April. The off season is usually rainy and it is not the best time to climb the mountain.
The mountain is situated in the western perimeter of the central highlands in the middle of a thick rain forest known as Samanala Adaviya or Adam’s Peak Wilderness Area. It is the principal peak of the Samanala mountain range. The range and the surrounding forest are famous for its rich biodiversity as well as breathtaking natural beauty.
One of the most fascinating sceneries is the sun rise from the top of Sri Pada. Lot of people climb Siri Pada at night to witness this charming cynosure popularly known as, 'Ira Sevaya'.
There are quite a few foot trails leading up to the mountain. Some are quite famous and some are known to villagers and experienced hikers only. I have tried four of the trails and completed three so far. Maliboda trail was tried and failed miserably. The first three mentioned below are the popular ones.
• Rathnapura, Palabaddala Trail – this is the oldest and most celebrated trail to Siripada. This 9km trail consists of the famous waypoints like Lihinihela , Geththampana, Dharmaraja Gala and Seethagangula.
• Hatton, Nallathanni Trail – This is one of the shortest and the easiest trails. Hence the majority of the devotees take this route nowadays. The trail is about 6 km.
• Kuruwita, Erathna Trail – The longest and one of the more difficult trails. The entire length is around 12km. This joins with Ratnapura trail about 2 kilometers before the peak at a place called ‘Heramitipana’. This is the third most famous trail.
• Maliboda Trail – This is one of the more difficult paths. The entire length is around 12km. Starts from Uda-Maliboda village off Deraniyagala and joins Kuruwita route.
• Moraywaththa Trail – The shortest trail to the peak starting from Moray estate, off Maskeliya. It joins Nallathanni path just before Mahagiri dambaya after Indikatupana. The entire trail is around 5km.
• Mukwaththa Trail – This is another not so famous track. The trail is about 7-8 km.
The above picture of Siri Pada Mountain was taken from Moraywaththa trail (at a place called Sandagalathenna). I will bring detailed accounts of the above trails later.
Please visit this site to learn more about Siripada - www.sripada.org