Adam's Peak

Late in the evening we drive to the mountain of the butterflies, as we want to be on the mountain at sunrise to experience the unique atmosphere.
The uniform triangle of the Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka exerts a magical attraction on believers of all world religions - and once a year on millions of old-age insects.
From all corners of the island they come as though drawn by a magnet into the mountainous region of the south-west of Sri Lanka. Cross gently rolling tea plantations, from which the bright saris of the pickers as colourful colour pigs, draw past thundering waterfalls and fog-hung valleys. They leave behind the woods, where leopards, wild boars and jackals are lurking, to finally reach the slopes of a distinctive, triangular mountain.
There is no scientific explanation for the annual butterfly flight, which lasts only for a short time. The time, however, is always in the pilgrimage season, i.e. between the December full moon and the full moon in May, which is the day of the birth of Buddha.
If the pilgrims had to find the way at night by the flickering torch light, now electric lights zigzag up the mountain until they finally form an almost vertical line to the summit. The pilgrims owe this light to a minister who made a vow here more than 50 years ago. He had the light installed after a dam had been completed in the time he wanted.
Most of the island visitors choose the shortest of the possible hiking trails - the still cumbersome seven-kilometer path that begins at Dalhousie's tea plantation. They leave behind the hustle and bustle of the teas and booths, in which zealous traders offer warming hats, Indian sweets, rice flour and lentil pancakes, headaches, and sacrifices. After a short time they reach a ritual bath. Here pilgrims wash themselves in the ice cold mountain water or even clean their teeth before they go through a big gate. Again and again you can see small memorials with statues representing Buddha or the Hindu elephant god Ganesha. Often stripes of white fabric adorn the shrines - pilgrims have bound them as a sign of intercession or thanksgiving to the gods.
In spite of the icy night air, many pilgrims are dressed poorly, the only concession to the cold is often a white cloth draped around the head and shoulders. The road becomes more difficult, and only about four hours or five thousand steps later will they reach the summit - old people and small children, infirm and weak, whole families, strengthened by their faith. Again and again you can hear pilgrims reciting religious verses and calling the greeting "Karunavai" - peace. Along the route private service providers, volunteer organizations and the Buddhist Temple Trust, which manages the sacred site, have set up resting places. Exhausted pilgrims can use their ayurvedic balm to nourish their aching muscles or sip a cup of hot tea with milk.
Surprised, some travelers observe how, at a certain point, Buddhist pilgrims throw a thread-like needle into the shrubbery - according to the legend, Buddha is resting here to mend a crack in his garment. The pilgrims on the river Seetha Gangula clean and refresh themselves about halfway through the last stages. Shortly before the summit, where the stairs form an almost vertical ladder, they sometimes have to wait up to half an hour in the high season.
Then, finally, the goal is reached: faithfully pray believers in the sacred footprint, which is enclosed by a temple. Visible is only an oversized replica, which covers the original rock with its foot-like depression. After the devotions, the pilgrims sound a bell - just once for each visit. Often, the bell is heard a dozen times or more, as a sign of pious pilgrims coming to the holy place again and again.
All those who reach the summit before sunrise, besides the religious merit, still have a special reward. When daylight slowly turns the sky, the black night turns into pale gold, fiery orange and deep red, Mountain panorama from the dark. Then, quite suddenly and only for a short time, you can see: The powerful, uniformly triangular shadow of the sacred mountain is thrust into the rising sun over the endless, wooded hills - an incomparable natural drama that is probably staged by the gods themselves.
At noon the next day we will go back to our guest house.