Unique, Adam's Peak is a pilgrimage site for no less than four religions. For Christians and Muslims, the large footprint which can be found at the summit of the peak corresponds to that Of Adam's. For Buddhists the footprint is that of Buddha's and for Hindus it is Shiva's. This peak is thus widely visited by worshippers from all over the world as well as hikers who embrace the uphill challenge. Hypnotised by the sun rise over the mountainous horizon, the visitors sense a magnified spiritual atmosphere as they reach the top in time for sunrise. A total of 4,500 stairs, all of different shapes and sizes, lead up to the top which is at 2,243 metres of altitude. The ascent takes approximately 3 hours to complete; for the more active visitor it takes about 2 hours and for the more 'leisurely' the climb can take from 4 to 6 hours. On pilgrimage days the crowds can get so dense that the ascent can take up to 11 hours! To be sure not to miss the sunrise, departure is usually at 2am, so a good night's rest beforehand is highly recommended. Many tour guides offer their services for the walk, however a guide is not especially useful as the route is straightforward. The path is lit by a string of lights, although it doesn't always function throughout the night. Little stalls sell food and drinks along the way. Once at the very top, reams of pilgrims can be seen praying, or sleeping wrapped in whatever they can get their hands on; sleeping bags, plastic bags...Prayer can suddenly be heard from covert speakers as people gather around the temple and slowly work they way round to the east to witness the sunrise out of the jagged mountain silhouettes. Suddenly the colours change, the sky lights up; it all happens very quickly and there is not a second to spare! The crowds rush to the west in hope to catch a glimpse of the mysterious triangular shadow projected by the mountain. It's all over in a matter of minutes and at 6.30am it is time to return to base...now legs are heavy with tiredness, eyelids threaten to close as a veil of tiredness falls...only 2 or 3 hours till the bottom is reached now!
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