Day -10 - 27-Dec-2015 (I continue From Here )
Adam’s peak or Sri Pada is the fifth tallest mountain in the central highlands of Sri Lanka (2243 m/ 7359 ft). On the summit is a footprint that the Buddhists believe is of Buddha, the Hindus believe it to be of Shiva and the Muslims and the Christians think it is a footprint of Adam when he first landed on earth from paradise. Some Christians believe that it is of St Thomas. Whoever, the footprint belongs to, It is a religious site in a beautiful location. While browsing through the list of highest mountains in the country, I came across this peak and I so much wanted to do this trek.
Access to the mountain is possible by 6 trails: Ratnapura-Palabaddala, Hatton-Nallathanni, Kuruwita-Erathna, Murraywatte, Mookuwatte & Malimboda. The Nallathanni & Palabaddala routes are most favored by those undertaking the climb. As said in the previous post, we choose to do the route through Dalhousie/Nallathanni. There are steps built in till the peak from here and also on the route from Ratnapura.
The climb is moderately difficult. Roc, Lidia, Tadashi and I slowly climb up the steps along with hundreds of other devotees. As it strikes 12 in the midnight, we wish Tadashi a very happy birthday. He turns 50 today!
The walk is filled with lot of fun talks. Roc and I want to be the first tourists on the summit and when any tourist would pass by, we would express a sign of disappointment and emphasis on the need to move faster.
Adam’s peak is lit all the way till the top as this is a season for many pilgrims to do this climb.
Amongst the pilgrims are several very old women (Not many old men!), a physically challenged boy struggling to walk, a group of mute and deaf youngsters, a couple carrying their sick child and many others seeking some kind of a solace. For stupid tourists like us this might be an exercise or a trek to watch sunrise from the peak but for these devotees it is a journey of faith and hope thus making their climb more meaningful and profound than ours.
There are shops almost till three fourth of the distance. The prices for tea, water and food double or triple as you climb up as they have to be carried up. Another interesting thing is that there are toilets and rest areas at several intervals. Nobody here pees by the road.
When the last flight of stairs start after a landing, people are seen tying white threads along the sidewalls and making a wish.
All through the route, a few devotees are chanting some sacred mantras or singing a devotional song thus giving this climb a spiritual feel.
As we reach the peak, the traffic makes the walk slower. Devotees are silent but some foreign tourists are noisy and are discussing their travels around the world and demonstrate how cool they are. I realise how travellers can unknowingly be a nuisance and disrespectful to others beliefs. Back in India, when we visit temples, we conduct ourselves in a certain respectful manner as it is no picnic or party for us. But some foreigners if not all, fail to understand that.
At the peak, we visit the temple and then are supposed to ring a bell equivalent to the number of times we have climbed the summit. All of us ring it once thus recording this conquer. It is 3:30 in the morning and we have taken about 4 hours to complete this trek up.
We secure a place facing east and await sunrise. It is freezing up here. A lot of Sri Lankan youngsters are sitting near us and like any other youngsters are joking and laughing about anything they find funny including some foreign tourists. Unfortunately, cloud covers the view during sunrise but as the clouds uncover the surrounding mountain ranges it discloses some formidable views to us. It is a spectacular sight!
We start our trek back and reach the base in 2.5 to 3 hours. The view is beautiful.
At the base, Roc and Lidia leave to Horton Plains almost immediately. Tadashi and I take the next bus to Hatton and then another from here to Nuwara Eliya. I bid farewell to Tadashi yet again and take a bus to Ella. Private bus conductors try to misguide me again saying that there are no direct buses but I check at the office in bus station and the official directs me to a red bus that goes to Ella directly. The ride to Ella is very scenic. I spot a Ravana temple on the way. The bus makes its way through the tea plantations and several waterfalls.
At Ella, I struggle to find an accommodation. I walk to Sita’s heaven suggested by Lonely planet and the owner lady disappointgly informs me that they are full. But she is so happy to know that I am an Indian. She calls her children and they all are pleasantly surprised that I resemble them. They try to discuss about places that might be free. But they finally tell me that all are booked. I walk to other hotels and finally a receptionist Yoga (A plantation Tamilian) comes to my aid. He calls several places and gets a no for an answer. Finally, one of his friends, a tuk-tuk driver responds positively. Yoga tells me that he had worked with a NGO for several years.When the NGO left the country he had to find a new job. I had read that the foreign NGOs supported by the UN were not favoured by the ex-president of Sri Lanka and had to vacate the country.
I thank Yoga and ride with Lal, a tuk-tuk driver cum owner of the homestay. He is extremely polite and always speaks with a smile on his face. Since his house is far away from the town (About 6kms) he offers me a free ride to the town whenever I want to go there. I am touched by his generosity. The house is at a beautiful location on the way to little Adam’s peak. Lal offers me some welcome drink - Ceylon tea. Nothing is more welcoming for me here than a cup of ceylon tea.
The place is so good that I decide to stay back that evening in my room. I walk to a very nice restaurant run by Ella flower garden resort that serves Italian food. Through the long glass walls of the restaurant, I watch Ella get soaked in heavy rainfall. A lot is happening in here - The power goes off, the generator does not work, Candles are placed on tables, more tourists pour in, Bill cannot be printed due to lack of power but I, undisturbed by all this pen down my journal. It seems like a perfect place to end my tiring long day and reflect upon all those beautiful things that I have experienced.
Route- Dalhousie/Nallathanni -> Adam's Peak -> Dalhousie -> Hatton -> Nuwara Elliya -> Ella