Sigiriya (Lion's rock, Sinhalese - is a place with a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Central Province, Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos),[1] which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha. Accordi.... Read more...

Sri Pada (Sri Lanka)
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Sri Pada (also Adam's peak; Sinhalese Samanalakanda - සමනළ කන්ද "butterfly mountain", Tamil Sivanolipatha Malai - சிவனொளி பாதமலை), is a 2,243 metres (7,359 ft) tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. It is well known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) rock formation near the summit, in Buddhist tradition it is held to be the footprint of the Buddha, in Hindu tradition that of Shiva and in Muslim and Christian tradition that of Adam.[1]
Geography

The mountain is located in the southern reaches of the Central Highlands, in the Ratnapura district of the Sabaragamuwa Province - lying about 40 km northeast of the city of Ratnapura. The surrounding region is largely forested hills, with no mountain of comparable size nearby. The region along the mountain is a wildlife reserve housing many species varying from elephants to leopards, and including many endemic species.

Adam's Peak is important as the main watershed of Srilanka,four of the principal rivers of the Island, including the Mahaveli Ganga, the longest, having their source from this mountain, and falling to the sea on the eastern, western and south eastern coasts. The districts to the south and the east of Adam's Peak yield precious stones-emeralds, rubies, sapphires, etc, for which the Island has been famous, and which have earned for its ancient name of Ratnadvipa.[2]
Trails

Access to the mountain is possible by 6 trails (Ratnapura-Palabaddala, Hatton-Nallathanni, Kuruwita-Erathna, Murraywatte, Mookuwatte & Malimboda). Out of these the Nallathanni & Palabaddala routes are the most popular. Kuruwita-Erathna road is somewhat popular as well. The other 3 roads are almost obscure. It joins the Palabaddala road midway through the ascent. Buses connect the final nodes of Nallanthanni to Hatton, Palabaddala to Ratnapura & Erathna to Kuruwita. Thereafter it's a difficult journey through the forest on foot. Most of the pilgrims use Hatton route as the journey on foot can be reduced by more than five kilometers even though the slope of this route is much greater than other routes.
Nomenclature

Due to its historical significance to the various people that inhabit in the region, the mountain, itself, is referred to by a variety of terms.

Sri Pada is the term, derived from Sanskrit, used by the Sinhalese people in a religious context. This name is also understood in Pāli, and may be translated roughly as "the sacred foot". It refers to the footprint-shaped mark at the summit, which is believed by Buddhists to be that of the Buddha. Other traditions assert that it is the footprint of Adam, left by his first entrance into the world.

Shivanolipatha Malai and Shiva padam are two Tamil names holding similar meanings, but both refer to the footprint as being that of the Hindu deity Shiva rather than that of the Buddha.

The Sinhala name of the mountain is Samanalakanda, which refers either to the deity Saman, who is said to live upon the mountain, or to the butterflies (samanalayā) that frequent the mountain during their annual migrations to the region.

Other local and historic names include Ratnagiri ("jewelled hill"), Samantakuta ("Peak of Saman"), Svargarohanam ("the climb to heaven"), Mount Rohana and other variations on the root Rohana.
The Sacred Mountain

It is revered as a holy site by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It has specific qualities that cause it to stand out and be noticed; including its dominant and outstanding profile, and the boulder at the peak that contains an indentation resembling a footprint. As the 1910, Encyclopædia Britannica notes[3]

For a long period Sri Pada was supposed to be the highest mountain in Ceylon, but actual survey makes it only 7353 ft. above sea-level. This elevation is chiefly remarkable as the resort of pilgrims from all parts of the East. The hollow in the lofty rock that crowns the summit is said by the Brahmans to be the footstep of Siva, by the Buddhists of Buddha, by the Muslims of Adam, whilst the Portuguese Christians were divided between the conflicting claims of St Thomas and the eunuch of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. The footstep is covered by a handsome roof, and is guarded by the priests of a rich monastery half-way up the mountain, who maintain a shrine on the summit of the peak.

It is an important pilgrimage site, especially for Buddhists. Pilgrims walk up the mountain, following a variety of difficult routes up thousands of steps. The journey takes several hours at least. The peak pilgrimage season is in April, and the goal is to be on top of the mountain at sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a triangular shadow on the surrounding plain and can be seen to move quickly downward as the sun rises.

Climbing at night can be a remarkable experience, with the lights of the path leading up and into the stars overhead. There are rest stops along the way.
Legends

The mountain is most often scaled from December to May. During other months it is hard to climb the mountain due to very heavy rain, extreme wind, and thick mist.

For Buddhists, the footprint mark is the left foot of the Buddha, left behind when Buddha visited Sri Lanka, as a symbol for worship at the invitation of Buddhist God Saman.

Tamil Hindus consider it as the footprint of Lord Shiva. It is also fabled that the mountain is the legendary mount Trikuta the capital of Ravana during the Ramayana times from where he ruled Lanka.

Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka ascribe it to where Adam, the first Ancestor, set foot as he was exiled from the Garden of Eden. The legends of Adam are connected to the idea that Sri Lanka was the original Eden, and in the Muslim tradition that Adam was 30ft tall.

A shrine to Saman, a Buddhist "deity" (People who have spent spiritual life during their life on earth and done pacificism service to regions are deified by Sri Lankan Buddhists) charged with protecting the mountain top, can be found near the footprint.

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