Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sri Pada (Adam's Peak) - Kuruwita Erathna Trail - Off-Season

Trip Name : Climbing Sri Pada via Kuruwita Trail during Off-season (Ascent)

Year and Month : November 2011

Number of Days : Two day Trip

Crew : 4 [ Samith(right flank) Sandun (left flank) Dhanushka(front ) Akila (rear) ]

Accommodation : Sri Pada Peak Temple

Transport : Hired Van

Activities : Hiking, Religious Activity

Weather : Heavy Rain,Misty,Cold


Route :
Day 1
Colombo
> Avissawella > Eheliyagoda > Kuruwita > Erathna > Adevikanda (Trail head)
Day 2
Adam’s Peak > Siripagama > Palabaddala > Rathnapura > Avissawella
> Colombo


View Larger Map
Special remarks :
  • Be ready to face extreme weather conditions.(rain coats, comfortable  jackets)
  • Accommodation at the peak temple cannot be guaranteed.
  • Convenient Foods – Noodles ,Instant soup ,Chocolate ,Biscuits.(please refrain from bringing any meat products)
  • Rather than Hatton trail you may encounter wildlife on these trails, be ready and don’t panic.
  • You could use this travelogue as a trail guide by following the order of highlighted landmarks and special places.

Resources
:
Trail Guides




This is a hike I’ve been planning on for 2 years. I've traveled  up to sri pada more than 4 times but I’ve never done it during off-season (“Avare”) . Most travelers don't trek via this trail as it is isolated from the civilization.. In Kuruwita Trail you might not meet any human being until you reach the summit. Therefore prior experience might come in handy.

Kuruwita Erathna Trail is the perfect trail for people who seek total isolated climb from civilization.Even during pilgrimage season you would not come in contact with many "Nada" (groups of pilgrims) as you might in Hatton and Rathnapura Trails.On the first day of journey we reached Adevikanda at 7.30 AM (it took us one hour  to drive from Kuruwita to Adevikanda). Once you reached Adevikanda the road ends near the trail head.You can easily spot the trail head since there is a huge sign board and a car park near it.There are few boutiques just before trail head if you need to buy anything but don't expect food-city like buy there.As mentioned in Lakdasun trail guide (provided in resources section) this is a 14km long trail.So we decided to start climbing right away.First few meters of this trail goes through courtyards and disturbed forest.Once you've started the hike you will notice two huge tunnels goes toward Adevikanda.This is the pen stock path of Vallibel Power Erathna (small hydro power plant) .You will come across the forebay tank of these tunnels once you finish first 2.4km of the trail.


Entering the Sanctuary (notice the huge water line on the top)



A tree has fallen on to a power line.We had to be extremely careful when crossing this


Long way to go


Through abandoned tea states


Just after climbing few hundred meters we had leeches climbing up our legs.We had to take them off while climbing since we thought that we might not be able to finish the trail before nightfall if we linger. Until we met our first resting place called “Jambolagaha Yata Ambalama” we had to tackle a intense climb. We rested at this place for 15 minutes.A small stream (probably a branch of "Seetha Gangula" /Cold River) which flows behind this resting place gave our legs a soothing sensation.


Our first Resting point "Jambolagahayata Ambalama"


Priceless moment (water was ice cold)
 
After having a nice break we started to continue our hike. We had to maintain a bit fast pace since we felt that we might not finish half of the trail before rain starts.The next important place we came across was not a resting place but a large exposed bedrock.There is a small concrete bridge to cross this rock bed.(Once you crossed this you will notice small footpath to the right and that footpath will take you to the Warnagala Falls)

Bedrock of Warnagala
Supported with Steel Bars,Mans best friend at the other end of the bridge


Bedrock of Warnagala


Upper part of the Bedrock

Once we crossed this bridge we had to climb this large bedrock. At some places it’s supported with Iron bars and concrete steps.




Little Rest
 
Then we came across our second resting place called “Diamondgala” (Diamond Rock) .Behind this resting place there is a small water stream .You will notice a Buddha Statue here and if you go near it you might be able to get a clear view of the trail you just did.

 

The next main landmark we encountered was a Fore-bay Tank of the hydro-plant (mentioned earlier in this travelogue ). This is the large basin which collects water to feed those tunnels which runs to Adevikanda village(I cannot be sure about this particular piece of information since i couldn't get reliable confirmation on this/There is a highly possible chance that another fore-bay tank is feeding those tunnels considering the high availability of water sources in Sri Pada Sanctuary ) .You are not allowed to go inside the gates or take photographs of this place without permission.

Caretakers Hut near Fore-bay tank


Then we came across Warnagala Main Resting Point.

[Tip]There are few toilets here but condition they were in was not that good.

Warnagala Main Resting Point



From 50 meters from this point you will come across a Saman Dewalaya & a Buddha Statue.
Then we had to climb continuously until we reached  the top of the Warngala Mountain. On your way to top you will pass another bedrock. It’s supported by iron bars and from here you could see the surrounding forest. It’s a scenic and breathtaking view.


Breathtaking Indeed!!

Then it was an easy walk through forest .But you will have to cross small water streams and might be able to witness wildlife like monkeys and wild boars.There won’t be any resting place until you reach SeethaGanguala.




Slippery!!
  
It was almost noon when we reached Seethagangula. So we decide to take a quick bath in the river and have our lunch.The river here is safe to take a bath as long as its not raining.If you look down the river you will notice another river joining Seethagangual.Its the embracement of Seethagangula and Kuru River.
 
[Tip] There are few toilets here.One of them was in good condition even though it was not pilgrimage season.


Seetha Gangula Resting Point


This is where we had our lunch
Seetha Gangula Meets Kuru Ganga
Preparing Tea
From the Other Side
 
After crossing Seetha Gangula you will notice another permanent resting place. It has a name board saying “Hendala Sripada Wandanopakara Samithiya ”. Though the place sound ideal for a stay since it's so close to a water source and a shop it's not in good condition even  for a couple of minutes stay.

Taking Photos for the Travelogue
Since 1976

From this place upwards the trail is a continues climb. You will meet flat sections but they won’t last more than few meters. Forest is pretty dense and we saw elephant dung on the trail. Therefore it’s advisable to finish this part of the trail before sunset if you are hiking during off-season.


Elephant Dung

 Tackling the Dense Forest


 
After an one hour continues climb we came across Medahinna Amabalama. It looked like an abandoned resting place and there was a small shrine opposite of it. While we were here we decided to get in to our rain coats since the sky was showing us some bad signs.
Just after putting our raincoats on rain started pouring over our heads. It was a heavy rain and we were half soaked even we had raincoats covering almost 90% of our body. It was a great experience to hike in rain. At some points we had to cross small cascades which were created by sudden rain. Sometimes we took small brakes by sitting on large rocks on the side of the road. There are no words to explain this experience. Even though it was hard to walk in rain we enjoyed it pretty well.



Next we came across a large flat area. After observing a little we realized that this is the Geththampana. Geththampana in Kuruwita trail is not that prominent as in other major trails.On this large flat area we noticed a Permanent Resting Place to the left of the trail.It was raining heavily when we arrived here and lightning was immense. Because of the lightning ,I was bit afraid to cross this exposed flat area to reach the resting place.Once we got inside of this place we took off our raincoats and backpacks.With no rain coat on, wind started sweeping through my wet cloths and body. It gave me a shivering chill. Rain was showing no sign of passing so we decided to rest for little while here. Making things worse none of had water with us but empty water cans. Having two 1.5 liter water bottles in you backpack is not a small weight when tackling a trail like this.So none of us wanted to carry this extra weight since we could find water sources almost everywhere on this trail. But the last time anyone of us had filled our water bottles was the time we were near Seethaganugala. From that point on  we have been consuming them and we had consumed the last drop of it before we reached Geththampana. Though we realized we would face with water shortage on the way to Gethtampana we weren't able to find good water source since all the water sources,cascades and streams has become unhygienic and muddy due to the rain. My friend Akila was putting his tongue out to catch small drops of rain since he was pretty thirsty. It was a dreadful experience that we weren't able to have a good sip of water when we had it all around us,the worse all over us! Almost after 30 minutes rain understood our humble desire and turned the heavy rain in to a drizzle.So we decide to continue the hike.
The way we went

The we came


From here on trail becomes very hard to tackle.You almost have to place you hands on the large rocks to climb upward.For the worse rain had made almost all of those rocks and paths slippery. While tackling this area our water problem kicked in again.This time it was me.Then all of a sudden i remembered that i had 6 Redbull cans in my backpack. I hurried through my pack and took them out  and we all drank them like those are the last batch of Redbull in the world. This small drink not only quenched our thirst but also gave us a little energy boost. After this small refreshment we agreed to maintain a fast pace until we reach Galwangediaya and started to continue climbing.Once we reached the area near Galwangediya we noticed that trail become less intense and.
 
After about one hour of continues climbing we came across the long awaited Galwangediya. It’s the place where Rathnapura and Kuruwita trails meet. There is a permanent resting place and a boutique here. The name Galwamgediya was given to this place because of the large rock basin which can be found on to the immediate right side of the trail. We stayed at this place for about 15 minutes to change our cloths.There is a water tap here in case you might want to fill you water bottles.This solved our water problem we faced earlier .Unfortunately I or any of my friends didn't took photos here.So I've attached screencaps of a video which was taken during climbing down for you to get a clearer view and idea about the place.






 
The next prominent land mark we encountered was Heramitipana. According to legends and folklore Heramitipana is the resting place from where pilgrims start to use walking stick to tackle the rest of the trail. At here there is a police station in case you need help with something.( Please note that it’s not manned during off season.)

[Special Note] Photos and videos of this place will be available on second part of this travelogue- descend.

Next we came across Makara Thorana.I don’t know why but this place is not recorded in any Kuruwita trail related online document except in an individual travel blog I found. Not even in Lakdasun Trail Guide. There is a large Buddha statue here and a shrine for deity Saman. Rain decided to leave us completely when we reached this place but uprooting our hopes it started again heavier than ever.Every drop of rain felt like cold rocks and thundering was shaking the earth.In order to let this hammering rain pass we took our time to worship Lord Buddha and deity Saman here.You will be able see Sri Pada peak temple from this place if mist isn't covering the summit

Welcome!!
After passing Makara Thorana it’s a continues and intense climb until you reach Andiyamala Thanna.On the way to Andiyamalathanna you will pass Mallamalakandula. There is a small bouquet here which should be open during pilgrimage season.

The next important landmark you will come across is the Andiyamalathanna which is the last resting place until you reach the summit. Rain was still troubling us when we reached here. But it was not the time to wait for nature to allows us to climb, it was getting dark and mist was starting to cover everything . Therefore our team agreed to tackle the trail quickly and carefully until we reach the summit without stopping.


From Andiyamalathanna onward trail is called Mahagiridambe (The Great Rock Climb). The name is given because of the steep climb you have to tackle. Steps are supported with iron bars all the way up to the summit. While tackling this last 800 meters you will pass places like Sulan Kapolla and Ehelakanuwa. None of us took any photos while climbing UP this part of the trail because we all were wearied due to the continues climb

[Special Note] Immediately after Andiyamalathanna you will notice a small house like building to the left. Its the bungalow of NWSDB (National Water Supply and Drainage Board).

It was 7 PM when we reached the Sri Pada Summit. Wind was extreme and cold was chilling our bones. We went straight to the care takers room which is located near the end of the Hatton trail and informed them that we are planning on staying the night to see Irasewaya (Sun Rise) in the morning. They invited us in to their room and offer us hot tea(Sri Lankans, best at hospitality). It was the best tea I ever tasted. Then we went in to our room and prepared our dinner there. Noodles, Bread, Butter, Vegetarian chili paste, Sambola, dried Dhal curry and finally a cup of Nestamolt .Oh dear!!...... It was a great dinner indeed.Then we arranged our Paduru and lit our kerosene pressure stove in the middle of the room and gathered around it to have a chat. Folklore, ghost stories, urban legends, Myths it was..... Wonderful!

[Tip] Don’t lit normal kerosene stoves in concealed area, Their CO emittance rate is much higher than pressure stoves.


Lighting up the stove

After this wonderful chat we all went to sleep. But around 12 pm I woke with a huge pain in my left leg. It felt like my leg is on fire. While I was trying to forget the pain and sleep my good friend Dhanushka (designated medic in our team) came to aid me. He gave me some tablets which diminished the pain just in few minutes. Then again I was able to sleep without trouble. Up to this day I don’t know what he gave me but I know it worked like a charm. (Danushka I owe you one  )
We all had a good nights sleep (even though it was freezing cold) until we were woken up to some strange voices...............................

Read the Second Part of this Travelogue Here

මෙම චාරිකාවේ සිංහල චාරිකා සටහන කියවීමට මෙතනින්(කතෘ : සඳුන්)

3 comments:

  1. Very Helpful information bro..... thanx a lot

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks alot for this info.. we are planning to go on October.. hope itll be safe around that season.. Thanks again for the tips

    ReplyDelete