Streams of white-clad pilgrims from across the world pour year round up the thousands of steps leading to the top of Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak (2,243m/7,360ft), whose summit sports an impression in a rock said by Buddhists to be the footprint of the Buddha, by Christians to be that of St Thomas, by Muslims the footprint of Adam and by Hindus a mark left by Shiva.
The strenuous ascent starts from the town of Dalhousie, and is most often made during the night to avoid the worst of the heat – along a stepped walkway lined by lanterns and shrines. Get there in time for sunrise and you may be treated to the extraordinary phenomenon known as the “Shadow of the Peak”, a projection of the pyramidal summit on to the surrounding sea mist which floats in the air for twenty minutes or so – taken by pilgrims as proof of the mountain’s supernatural powers.
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