is Unduvap poya-start of the Sri Pada season
By Ariyadasa Ratnasinghe
The Sri Pada season when pilgrims begin to ascend
the holy mountain, to pay homage to the sacred footmark, commences
today on Unduvap full moon poya and ends on Vesak full moon poya
next year. During the season, thousands of pilgrims, Buddhists,
Hindus, Christians and Muslims, make the steep ascent with faith
holy conical mountain is 18 km north-east of Ratnapura and rises
abruptly from the lower valley to an altitude of 2, 243m (7360 ft)
offering an unobstructed view over land and sea. During ancient
times, the visibility of this conical mountain, from vessels off
the coast, was the landmark for Greeks and Arabians and Persian
traders, who came to the island to trade in gems, spices, ivory
Pada is a World Heritage site, a site national or cultural, recognised
by the international community, under the World Heritage Convention
and by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as possessing universal
value. Sri Pada was declared a sanctuary on October 10, 1940.
summit of Sri Pada is a small plateau 74 ft by 24 ft (1,776 sq.ft.)
At the apex of the mountain is a huge boulder, which stands in the
centre, upon which is found the sacred footmark.
is a superficial hollow, 63 ins. in length, and between 31 ins.
and 29 ins. in width. It is a gigantic symbol of worship, and the
cavity bears a coarse resemblance to the human foot. The belief
is that the real footmark is beneath the boulder, hidden for safety,
the miracle dedicated to God Saman, the deity of the mountain wilderness.
original path to Sri Pada, following the Kalu Ganga, was the Ratnapura
path, with Palabaddala being the last inhabited station. The Hatton
path, following the Mahaweli Ganga became popular later as the Rajamawatha,
with most kings ascending the holy mountain along it. Today, there
are three paths from Ratnapura via Carney Estate (10 miles on foot);
from Kuruwita via Malwala (12 miles on foot) and the Hatton path
via Maskeliya (four miles on foot).
believe the footmark is the Buddha's the Hindus that it is Siva's
and the Muslims and the Christians that it is Adam's, the first
man on earth. The Christian belief is woven into the fabric of mythology,
where it is said that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden
of Eden (Paradise) Adam fell on the mount, where he stood for 1,000
years on one foot, in penitence for having eaten the forbidden fruit
regard to this belief, Sir John Maundeville (1320--1387) says: “In
that yle (isle) there is a great Mountayne, and thei of the Countree
seym that Adam and Eve wepten upon that Mount a hundred Zeer when
thei were driven out of Paradys." Christians go on pilgrimage
to the holy mountain "to worship the sepulchre of Adam".
Cullen Bryant (1794- 1878), in his analysis of ancient mythology,
lays great weight on the name Adam, when he says, "The Pike
of Adam is properly the summit sacred to Ad Ham (Adam), the king
or deity Ham, the Amon of Egypt". According to the Christian
theologian Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus (160-220) "the
sacred footprint of Adam is the greatest photoplast of the human
most pilgrims travel by train to Hatton, 172 km from Colombo, and
then proceed by bus up to Nallatanniya Estate (Delhousie Bazaar)
via Maskeliya, where the transport halts. The balance distance is
covered on foot up to Seetagangula (the stream of icy water) where
the water falls over a tabular mass of rock from a wooded height.
Pilgrims stop at this place to perform their ablutions, have their
meals and to beseech divine help for a safe journey home.
Seetagangula to the summit of the mountain the ascent is steep.
The next stop is Indikatupana, where a few boutiques offer tea,
coffee and meals, which are very costly. From Indikatupana, concrete
steps, built for the convenience and safety of the pilgrims, lead
to the top as they pass over the barren, rocky surface, where only
tundra vegetation grows, due to dampness and heavy showers.
the sacred footmark, there is a small niche to enshrine the statues
of God Saman and his divine vehicle symbolising a white elephant.
During the off season these are kept secured at the Galpottawala
Rajamaha Vihara at Pelmadulla. The vihara had been built by King
Kirti Sri Rajasinha and the statues of the god presented by him
to the devale.
pilgrims trek up Sri Pada on the full moon poya day in Medin (March).