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Following In The Footsteps – Legends of Adam’s Peak

Sri Lanka is the epitome of South Asia’s diverse heritage. Multicultural harmony is at an all-time high; the Sri Lankan population firmly believes in coexisting regardless of the color, caste, creed, race, and of course, religion. The island has been blessed with geographical phenomenons that can leave many travelers flabbergasted. From sandy beaches overlooking serene seas to towering mountains and peaks that instantly make us feel humanely small, the country has it all. Now if we are to speak about Adam’s Peak, a pilgrimage spot, we must address the legends associated with this beautiful peak. The views aside, this place holds an important spot in the country’s heart. So let’s explore Adam’s peak today, and why it means so much for the Sri Lankan population! 

Credits: Flickr.com

When the Arab travelers first glanced at the peak hundreds of years ago, they proclaimed it as the world’s tallest mountain. However, Adam’s Peak is not even the tallest in Sri Lanka. Standing at 2,243 meters, Adam’s Peak is widely regarded as the country’s most famous hill station. The surrounding area consists of lush green forests, and the six popular trails to the mountaintop are frequented by tourists and trekkers, depending on their experience and physical fitness. However, the reason behind Adam’s Peak’s popularity is the ‘Sri pad’ or the “sacred footprint”. The most popular legend is that Buddha left his left footprint on Adam’s Peak, and then in a single stride, crossed over to Thailand, where he left the impression of his right foot. The appearance of his right footprint is called ‘Phra sat’. 

Naturally, that is the quintessential reason why Buddhists revere Adam’s Peak and often venture out on a pilgrimage to the mountain’s top, where the footprint is etched. However, why do Hindus, Muslims, and Christians consider this peak holy? As in the case for Hindus, they believe that before any of the other religions existed on the island, the island was occupied by the Veddas, a local tribe of hunter gatherers known to have existed on that island. They initially named the peak, ‘Samanala Kanda’ after one of the deities that they worshipped. The Hindus also believe that the footprint left on the mountain is of Shiva’s, during his dance where he created the entire world. That is the reason why the Hindus refer to Adam’s Peak as ‘ Sivan Adi Padham’. 

For the Christians, the place is holy because of St. Thomas who first brought Christianity to the island. However, it’s the Islamic belief which is the reason why it’s called Adam’s Peak. The popular Islamic belief is that when Adam was expelled from heaven, he was sent to Adam’s Peak, a place which was the closest in resemblance to heaven. It’s on this heaven on earth that Adam continued his atonement to apologize and win God’s favor once again. Legend says that Adam stood on one leg, his left, and held his penance for a thousand years. Thus, the significance and origin of the left footprint. Despite the opposing theories and beliefs, it cannot be denied that the Peak is of irrevocable importance to all four religions. Devotees regularly go out on a pilgrimage, and the mountain is the biggest proof of various religions existing in harmony. 

Curated by Yashodhaan Burange