Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka EX­PE­RI­ENCE ADAM’S PE AK

The best time to climb is be­tween De­cem­ber and May, and you will need to al­low at least three hours to reach the top.

Asian Geographic - - Front Page -

The sun peaked over the hori­zon, and in a mat­ter of min­utes, the dark­ness which had cloaked me for hours van­ished, re­placed with a warm, or­ange glow. Though a good sized crowd was gath­ered at the sum­mit, you could have heard a pin drop, such was the si­lent rev­er­ence. You can climb Adam’s Peak in day­light hours, and many peo­ple do, but pil­grims typ­i­cally pre­fer to walk through the last hours of the night to catch the sun­rise at the top. The theme of dark­ness over­come by light is re­cur­rent in many faiths, and here it seems par­tic­u­larly ap­pro­pri­ate as Mus­lims and Chris­tians, Bud­dhists and Hin­dus all jour­ney to the moun­tain to pray. Vis­i­tors of no faith come too, but the ex­pe­ri­ence seems par­tic­u­larly poignant for be­liev­ers.

For the fol­low­ers of the Abra­hamic faiths, it was here that Adam first set foot on earth when he was cast out of the Gar­den of Eden, hav­ing eaten the for­bid­den fruit. An over­sized foot­print, nearly two me­tres in length and cut into the rock near the sum­mit is, for Bud­dhists, the mark left by the left foot of the Bud­dha; for Hin­dus, that same foot­print be­longs to Lord Shiva. Adam’s Peak is, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal Tamil leg­ends, also Mount Trikuta, de­scribed in the Ra­mayana Hindu epic as the cap­i­tal of the demon king, Ra­vana.

I climbed Adam’s Peak in April, at the peak of the pil­grim­age pe­riod, and like my Bud­dhist com­pan­ions, I made the jour­ney bare­foot as a sign of hu­mil­ity. Start­ing around 2am, we opted for the Hat­ton trail be­cause al­though it is steep, it is sig­nif­i­cantly shorter than the other routes. Our way was lit by tiny lights along the path, as well as by the near-full moon and stars. We climbed step after rough step, hewn into the rock or bol­stered with stone and con­crete, and made our way through the forested moun­tain­side. There are ru­moured to be wild an­i­mals in the for­est, in­clud­ing leop­ards and ele­phants, but thank­fully they keep their dis­tance from the path and those who climb along it.

There are na­ture-made pit­stops to rest along the way, flanked by tea and snack stalls. There is also a chance to stop at the mod­ern Peace Pagoda, erected on the moun­tain in 1978. Though cer­tain sites are of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance to one re­li­gious com­mu­nity or an­other, all are wel­come to stop, rest, re­flect, and pray. To this end, Adam’s Peak stands tall as an ec­u­meni­cal bea­con in a world where re­li­gious tol­er­ance is sadly often found want­ing.

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