There are times when I overestimate myself and plunge to take up things which I eventually discover to be immensely challenging. But then I ponder, “That’s precisely the reason why I want to travel often”. A little contradictory. That’s how most things in life are. Isn’t it? My travels these days aren’t about sight-seeing and ticking the places off my list anymore. I intend to take up activities which either help me feel the adrenaline rush or makes me bask in to the most local experiences.
Lately I have started incorporating one day hikes and sometimes moderate treks in my travels so that I can keep stretching my physical strength and mental endurance. The idea of attempting one such back-breaking hike struck me while I was designing my itinerary of Sri Lanka. While researching about adventure in Srilanka, I came across a strenuous hike to Adam’s Peak. It absolutely appeared out of reach considering the difficulty of the climb and my not so fit body. More for “my not so fit body”. After a lot of deliberation, I had put this preposterous climb on my trajectory while in Srilanka.
On the 4th day of our Sri lanka trip, R and I left Nuwara Eliya to reach Dalhousie, the starting point of the climb after quite a narration worthy horrifying scooty ride. This experience requires another post hence more on this later. I had made an advance reservation in guest house at Dalhousie where we rested for few hours before starting the hike.
Usually the guest houses at Dalhousie get their reservations by climbers and thus they make the arrangements of free drop and pick up from the starting point of the hike. The guest house’s vehicle drove us till the large standing Buddha which is the end of the Dalhousie village and also the starting point of the Adam’s peak climb around 3 am.
I equipped myself with a torch and started to climb initial easy steps of 5500 steps to reach summit which is 7 km uphill. The eerie atmosphere, impenetrable darkness and some scary sounds of the forest engulfed me with the ideas of reaching a ghostly summit. On the physical front, the first half an hour or a little more went like a breeze, crossed a few bridges, passed by some Buddha shrines and reached a big arch which marks the start of the sacred area.
Now was the time when the climb started getting steep and I got the idea that what everybody had said about the climb was not at all exaggerated. While my pace started getting slower, I noticed the locals carrying small babies, 80-year-old pilgrims and kids almost running through the trail without a care.
The climb got a little monotonous as it was pitch dark if not for the torches climbers (tourists) carried and the steps were more or less same with some uneven steps in between. It felt like I was climbing not for minutes, hours, days but for centuries. There were a lot of all-night tea stalls along the trail where people were stopping by for the most warming tea or coffee. We had carried my energy bars, bananas for instant energy, and kept nibbling those on our halts. We reached a huge Peace pagoda and breathed for a while.
On crossing the Pagoda, the steps were not too bad initially but the climb graduated to climbing quite steep and short steps. I looked at the handrails and breathed a sigh of relief thinking those to be some respite in climbing. But not to my expectation, the handrails started only to embrace me with the leg wretching, almost vertical 1500 steps leading to the summit.
Now my legs were on the verge of mutiny while I noticed some of the fellow climbers scaling the heights gracefully, some almost hauling on the handrails to take every step. At this point, the surreal landscape unfolded itself and the mist gently started taking off. Another few meters I managed to pull myself and saw the maddening rush of pilgrims and tourists at a spot only to realize that we have made it to the peak.
Even with a thick jacket, I felt the chill all over my body. The winds were too strong at the peak for me to not sway away. I forced my body to rest on the steps of the temple till I stopped panting. At the summit, only one tea shop was open at that hour and that must have been surrounded by atleast 50 people. And what was the least pleasant at that moment was the unexpected rain showers. Everybody started finding nook and corners to hid themselves. The rains stopped but the clouds were not ready to unveil the landscape barring some momentary sneak peeks. Few of us dared to set our bare feet on the chilly temple floor. We rang the bell one by one and walked around like penguins so as to avoid the cold floor of the temple. I paid my respect to the deities and advanced towards exit.
Even after waiting for 20 odd minutes, the clouds denied to give a good glimpse of the landscape. I started the long walk down and after few steps, my knees roared out loud with the pain which they had undergone of climbing 5500 steps in less than 3 hours. Even for a moment, it didn’t cross my mind that walking down will be more painful than climbing up. And here I was shoving myself through every step. I would stop by often and click pictures of the waterfalls, lush green valley and the steep trail which I just walked down. In 2 and a half hours, I successfully made to the point from where we started the climb.
Legend of Adam’s Peak:
Adam’s Peak, famously called Sri Pada or Sacred Footprint is the only mountain considered holy by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims, according to their individual beliefs.
- According to a legend, it is believed that Buddha left the print of his left foot on Adam’s peak and stride across to Thailand and left the print of his right foot at Phra Sat.
- As per Christian legend, Adam, had fallen on top of the mountain after being expelled from Paradise for eating the forbidden fruit. There, he is believed to have stood on one foot for one thousand years, to atone for his sin committed, leaving the footprint there.
- Muslims believe that there lies the sepulchre of Adam atop the mountain and called it Adam – Malai.
- According to a Hindu legend, the footmark is of Lord Siva. The god is supposed to have settled on the summit to shed his divine light upon mankind. Hence they call the mountain ‘Sivanolipadam’ (Foot of Siva’s Light)
Facts about Adam’s Peak:
- Adam’s Peak is a 2243m tall conical mountain.It has a 1.8m rock formation near the summit which is famously referred as sacred footprints or Sri Pada.
- It is located in the central highlands of Srilanka. The region along the mountain is a wildlife reserve with various species ranging from birds, elephants to leopards.
- There are 6 trails to hike up the mountain, most preferred being the Hatton-Nallathanni one.
How to reach there and where to stay?
- Direct buses ply from Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Colombo to Dalhousie from where the hike begins.
- One can rent a scooty and ride till Dalhousie. Google map comes handy as the directions are marked accurately on google maps. I rented a scooty and rode from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya( roamed around) to Dalhousie.
- There are many home stays and guest houses available in Dalhousie. We stayed in an Airbnb where they offered free breakfast and shuttle to the start of the hiking point.
Do you hike or do some adventure on your travels? Tell me your story of adventure in comment below.
P.S.: The featured image pic credit belongs to http://drinkingtraveller.com/