Adam’s peak: Top places for photography in Sri Lanka

It is an old local saying that you are a fool if you have not climbed Adam’s peak once or have climbed it more than once…This beautiful peak is one of the top sacred places in Sri Lanka tourism map and if you are a photographer seeking to take rare photographs, then you must make this journey.

Sri Lanka: A Small island on the Indian Ocean, consisting of many miracles in a small land area. This country is rich with sacred places that has significant religious, cultural, and historical values. If you are touring in Sri Lanka, Adam’s Peak (2,243m) is a place you must insist your tour guide to take you…

Locally known as ‘Siri pada’ meaning the ‘sacred footprint’, is a pilgrim mountain due to the sacred footprint mark on top of the rock. This has attracted four different religious faiths. The Buddhists believe the footprint belong to Lord Buddha’s and then the Christians and Muslims believe it is the footprint of Adam, the first parent of the world according to the Old Testament and Hindus believe it belongs to Lord Siva.

Pilgrim season is between December to April. But off season is best for photography as it will give you enough freedom to experience the climb. Get your camera, rain cover, and enough lenses because during this journey, you are going to face different weathers, lighting situations, rain, and sun. But do not over load your-self as the hike is steep and you will get too exhausted to notice the beauty of the surrounding.

How to go to Adam’s Peak?

There are several routes to climb up to this sacred place in Sri Lanka. None of it requires any climbing gear or skill. All you need is a bit of stamina to do the uphill walk for several hours…Easiest and the most popular route is via an area called Hatton-Nallathaniya route. You can reach this area within 3-4 hours from the Capital city. If you are travelling in a private vehicle, there are lots of beautiful places such as Norton bridge hydro power plant, Kithulgala white water rafting site and lots of lush green tea plantations.

It is advised to dress appropriately and avoid cigarettes and alcohol since it is a sacred place. However, you are free when you are back in your hotel. It is a tradition to start the climb very early morning (around 3am) so that you might be able to be on top to photograph the sunrise. It is said that watching sunrise from the peak is a pure blessing to the soul, eye and of course to the camera. You might want to use extra lights as the path to the top is mostly dark and gloomy.

Entrance pandol at the beginning of the steps (From Hatton side)

Entrance pandol at the beginning of the steps (From Hatton side)

Other two routes start from two different places in Sri Lanka and considered to be difficult and longer than the first one. But if you are ready for some adventure, then you must take the ‘Kuruvita-Eratna’ route or ‘Ratnapura-Palabaddala’ route. These two routes are difficult, muddy, rainy, and surely takes more than 8 hours of climbing uphill. These routes are through some pure tropical jungles and is extremely humid, gloomy, and slippery. This is an excellent condition for leeches (the small blood sucking worm type). If you stop in one place to take a photo for more than 1 minute, you are sure to attract an army of leeches. So be careful where you keep your feet when resting or stopping to take a photo. It is best to wear leech resistant socks and apply some menthol application.

In these tropical jungles, you will capture the most beautiful images of Sri Lanka that won’t be seen on travel magazines. There are hidden streams, water falls, and sometimes during off season, you might spot wild elephants and if you are lucky, a Leopard too. Rare and extremely beautiful photographs come with great risk in these wild jungles. So, you better be careful if you are skipping the regular path and walking inside the jungle.

Seetha Gangula: Cleansing stream

It is said that one must cleanse himself before worshipping this sacred place on top of the Adam’s peak. Regardless of the icy cold water, you will be happy to wash your face when you see this stream. ‘Seetha Gangula’ means ‘the cold-water river’ is a place where worshipers use to bath before they start the second half of the climb. This stream starts from a mysterious fountain somewhere in the jungle and flows down and join one of the main rivers in Sri Lanka. Be careful of flash floods during off season, when you have to cross this river in case if you are taking the harder routes. You would find rare angles of the river when if you go up stream.

Seetha Gangula on Kuruvuta Eratna route

Seetha Gangula on Kuruvuta Eratna route

Climbing Adams Peak

It’s not an adventure climb you would experience at Adam’s peak. It’s more of an uphill walk with lots of stamina, sweat and thirst. Carry a water bottle and refill it from the stream if you need more. There are small shops at the bottom of the mountain for you to buy Sri Lankan refreshments. But you won’t find any camera batteries, memory cards, rain covers in these shops. So, better be prepared. Even if you take the shortest route, you still must pass more than 5000 steep steps to reach the top. If you take the longer routes, steps will be much steeper and slippery.

Steps at Adam’s peak

Steps at Adam’s peak

On top of Adam’s Peak

On top of this sacred place is a Buddhist Temple. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka. During the season, the temple is very crowded with worshippers. But it’s a good opportunity to capture a variety of South Asian faiths in one place if you love to photograph portrait photos. You would notice some very old people have climbed up and worshipping the ‘sacred footprint. Their faces reflect various emotions and you might love to photograph those if you are a photographer capturing faces of different countries.

worshippers-at-adams-peak

traditions-at-adams-peak

View from the top of Adams Peak

If you can be on top of the mountain for the sun rise, you will be able to take a beautiful photo of the shadow of mountain on the other side. But that’s not the only photo you can take. A photo of surrounding mountains will give you an idea how it is to live in a tropical country and the vastness of those thick jungles. Adam’s peak is situated in a mountain range which consists many other smaller peaks and some of those have not been fully explored by the public yet. There are lots of stories about people who have gone ‘lost’ in the surrounding vast jungle. If you are keen to explore these thick jungles, take precautions and make sure to take a local guide with you.

view-from-the-top-of-adams-peak

Beware of your behaviour when you are on this journey. It is a local belief that one must be careful with thoughts, words, and actions, when in you travel in this part of the jungle, as ‘God Saman’ who is said to be based in Adam’s peak mountain range could punish anyone who doesn’t respect this sacred place. If you talk to some locals, they will provide a long list of stories about ‘lost’ people to support this belief.

Adam’s Peak is a combination of nature, culture, and faith. It will provide a variety of natural and human objects to fulfil your photographic thirst. This is a must go place in your photography tour in Sri Lanka. So, come and explore the unexplored in Sri Lanka

Cheers,

Till we meet again in Sri Lanka.