Visited by many early world travellers, among them the Arab Ibn Batuta (1304-1368) and the Venetian Marco Polo (1254-1324), Adam's Peak attained a legendary status as a mystic, pilgrimage destination.
Adam’s Peak is more than a 7362 ft. mountain jutting sharply skyward from the lush jungles of south western Sri Lanka, it is one of the holiest places for Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus alike.
The mountain was worshipped by the aboriginal inhabitants of Sri Lanka, the Veddas. Their name for the peak was Samanala Kanda; Saman being one of the four guardian deities of the island. For Hindus, the name of the mountain is Sivan Adi Padham, because it was the world-creative dance of the god Shiva that left the giant footprint (5 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 6 inches) atop the rock. According to Buddhist traditions from as early as 300 BCE, the footprint was left by the Buddha during the third and final of his legendary visits to Sri Lanka. When Portuguese Christians came to the island in the 16th century they claimed the impression to be the footprint of St. Thomas who, according to legend, first brought Christianity to Sri Lanka. And finally, the Arabs record it as being the solitary footprint of Adam where he stood for a thousand years of penance on one foot.
Atop the peak is an oblong platform (74 x 24 feet) where stands a small Buddhist temple and the shrine of God Saman with the strange footprint. Votive offerings are made here, for recovery from sickness. Rain-water taken from the footprint is known to have a wonderful healing power.
The desire of every pilgrim is to reach the peak before dawn so that they could see the glory of the sunrise and thereafter perform their religious rites. The climb is by no means easy. It takes several hours to get to the top. There are several resting places at various points on the path. Pilgrims usually take a ceremonial bath of cleansing and change into clean clothes before crossing over a bridge from the river. From this point onward the path is an ascent of steps, very steep at some points. There are iron rails fixed to support the climbers.