Sri Pada (Mountain of Butterflies)
Sri Pada is the only mountain area in the world which is worshipped by four major religions. The Buddhists identify the imprint found on the summit as one of Lord Buddha, hence the name Sri Pada. The Hindus believe that the footprints represent those of Lord Shiva and to the Christians it is the footprint of St. Thomas. For the Islamic people, the footprint represents Adam, hence the title “Adam’s Peak”.
Sri Pada to the Sinhalese people is also known as Samanala Kanda (Butterfly Mountain) as an abundance of stunning butterflies can be found at the start of the season.
Sri Pada stands 2243m high above the sea level and is approximately 12km by foot from the bottom to the peak or 14km by vehicle. It is an ideal mountain for religious pilgrimages and most people hike up the mountain by night (assisted by a path lit by lamps) in order to experience the stunning sun rise at dawn. The pilgrimage season starts from the full moon (Poya day) in December and continues until the Vesak festival in May.
The Dalada Maligawa is an ancient city, located in Kandy and is home to the temple of Buddha’s sacred tooth. This sacred temple is also home to the palm-leaf transcripts. Its history dates back to 1687, when the foundations of the temple were laid. This stunning piece of architecture is instantly recognised by its octagonal shape and golden roof. The interior of the building is even more impressive as it is surrounded by intricate carvings and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory and lacquer.
Legend has it that the left upper canine of Lord Buddha was taken from him as he lay on his funeral pyre. It was then brought to Sri Lanka in Princess Hemamali’s hair and housed in a two-storey inner shrine and guarded by two large elephant tusks. The actual tooth is placed on a solid gold lotus flower which is held in jewelled caskets that sit on a throne. Daily rituals are held at the temple to honour the sacred tooth relic. The tooth is showered with lotus blossoms and frangipanis.
Other attractions in Dalada Maligawa include Natha Devale – this stone sanctuary is the oldest building in Kandy and Mahavishnu Devale – this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is considered to be the protector of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
The sacred mountain of Mihintale is located 12 km east from the ancient city of Anuradhapura. The sacredness of this mountain was a result of the belief that this was the place that Buddhism was first introduced in Sri Lanka. This holy mountain’s peak can be reached by a grand stairway built from 1840 granite steps. The peak of Mihintale is home for many Buddhist monks, temples and some magnificent statues of Lord Buddha. Each June at full moon many people travel to this sacred mountain to meditate on the holy peak to commemorate Buddhism being introduced in Sri Lanka.