There are many paths to the sacred peak of Sri Pad, a mountain of immeasurable significance in the central highlands of Sri Lanka.
The name Sri Pada of course refers to the resplendent impression of a footprint which crowns a large granite boulder on the summit. “Peak of Adam” was the moniker given to it by muslim traders and somehow continued to be known this way and has been documented as the same by travellers like Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta.
There are several paths to the sacred peak , but the one most popular with pilgrims is the Hatton approach. These are a pile of over
5000 stairs all the way to the top. But believe me when I say the number of stairs just do not matter. Somewhere between the scant waves of respirational relief and cold hallucinations you tend to lose all sense of mathematical ability. My issue with stairs are fairly straightforward. Steps force you to cover a specific height every single time; my pace is decided by an incorrigible block of stone and this just doesn’t sit well with me and
evidently the 20 others who were on this self destructive mission to Adam’s Peak.
We started at 2:30 AM on a Wednesday morning, what can only be called the “you brought it on yourself” fest of the year. Now , the start is
extremely deceiving. The steps are small , wide and in fact gentle. The first 20 minutes to half an hour is evenly punctuated with shrines and options to make offerings. Do make sure you keep a few coins handy.
After the 30 min mark, the climb hits you in th efface almost from no where. The stairs are narrower , steeper and far more in
number.What will really get to you though is that for the next hour or so , ever time you look high up to your left, you see the unfathomable peak ,almost elusive. Note that I said left, the peak is not in front of you. You need to cover a large distance laterally ( while the stairs remaining to be the vertical equivalent of a battle ship), before you see Sri pada above you.
Make you sure you take a break every 200 steps or so,although this is bound to get more frequent as you go up.There are little benches for you to rest your knees at regular intervals.
Soon, every step will take an eon to cover. You will startto hear every string of muscle on thigh weeping, begging you give up and the
sit the fuck down! You consider having to cover the last stretch on all your fours.
I must paint a very gory picture of the Sri Pada climb. It really is .But , like a friend put it , once you start, there is no giving up , simply cause returning half way never seems worth it. Besides, the return is just as daunting!
The peak is really the size of your living room. The space left after you placed a coffee table and a recliner at best really. But what you are there for is the sun rise. And rise it does. It is almost as if the Big cahuna sends in his courtiers first to announce his arrival with a tinge of orange on the east side, just so you know it is time. Then slowly, very slowly , he struts into the horizon in all his glory. This is one huge “aaaw” op. Soon the weather changes from teeth chattering cold to a swelter that we are more familiar with. And almost instantly, people clear the peak, almost as if running to escape the wrath of the sun.
Here a few things you must not forget to carry with you. Warm clothes, water( lots), maybe a cola and a sleeping if you intend on spending the night on top.