12th Apr 2013

Climbing the Holy Mountain...

Our journey began in Hikkaduwa at 7am. With coffee and fresh fruit muesli breakfast from our local Coffee Shop in hand, we made our way to the train station. The three hour train ride to the Islands capital is beautiful as the track runs alongside the entire coastline. Although there was no chance of getting a seat, the doors of the train remain open so you can sit on the edge and watch the picturesque coastal landscape rush by.

Once in the capital, we waited 20 minutes for our train and then boarded for the next leg of our journey; Columbo to Hatton. This journey was even more breathtaking than the last, and is ranked as one of the Top 5 train rides in the world. Its not hard to see why, gracefully moving through the rolling hills of the central highlands was a real treat as the views were outstanding. Once in Hatton, we began the last leg of the journey to the small settlement of Dalhousie which lies at the base of the peak. 

Located in central Sri Lanka, Adam's Peak (or Sri Pada in Sinhalese) is a 2243m high mountain. It is deemed holy by many different religions and it holds a large footprint protected by the temple at the summit of the mountain. This is thought to be the place where Adam first set foot on this earth and many Buddhists believe that this footprint is of Buddha himself.

Climbing this holy mountain is no easy task as there are 5,200 steps. These steps are very irregular in shape and size, and it takes between 2 - 4 hours to get to the top. I recently undertook this mission with family and some good friends of mine, and I have to say it was sensational in evry way. We started the mammoth climb at 2:30am in pitch dark. Luckily, the path is lit up from start to finish. At first I thought it was going to be easy as I've been surfing 2-3 times a day for the last 4 months, and my fitness levels are pretty good. After about 2 hours of climbing, it became apparent to me that this was not the case. As with climbing any mountain at high altitudes, the air gets thinner the higher you go, and I had to take a break to catch my breath. Whilst sitting and taking a well needed a sip of water, I saw three elderly ladies and two young children powering up the mountain with a very determined look in their eyes. It was then that I realised this mammoth task is all in the mind. If they could climb at such pace, so could I. We powered on through and reached the summit half an hour later.

We'd started the climb in the early hours of the morning to get to the top for the sunrise. We were just in time and joined the hundreds of others: tourists and locals alike, to see the first rays of light shoot out from the horizon.

There is a Buddhist temple at the summit, together with many shrines catering for the different religions that visit this holy mountain. As the sun rose, drums were played and sounds bellowed out from what sounded to me, like some form of SrI Lankan bagpipe. It was an amazingly spiritual experience and one I will never forget. The sunrise and the views from each side of the peak were spectacular and I would definitely like to do it again on my next trip to Sri Lanka.

A must see when visiting this emerald Island. Although I have to warn you, your legs probably won't work properly for a few days after, so don't plan anything too strenuous in the days that follow. I could still surf but getting up and down steps and walking in general was not easy.