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The mountain is located in the southern reaches of the Central Highlands, in the Ratnapura District and Nuwara Eliya district of the Sabaragamuwa Province and Central Province —lying about 40 km northeast of the city of Ratnapura and 32 km southwest of the city of Hatton. The surrounding region is largely forested hills, with no mountain of comparable size nearby. The region along the mountain is a wildlife reserve, housing many species and endemic species. Most local people believe dwarf elephants (kuru ali) live in this samanala forest.
Adam's Peak is important as a watershed. The districts to the south and the east of Adam's Peak yield precious stones—emeralds, rubies and sapphires, for which the island has been famous, and which earned for its ancient name of Ratnadvipa.
The peak pilgrimage season is in April, and the goal is to be on top of the mountain at sunrise, when the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a triangular shadow on the surrounding plain and can be seen to move quickly downward as the sun rises.
Climbing at night can be a remarkable experience, with the lights of the path leading up and into the stars overhead. There are rest stops along the way.
The mountain is most often scaled from December to May. During other months it is hard to climb the mountain due to very heavy rain, extreme wind, and thick mist.
For Buddhists, the footprint mark is the left foot of the Buddha, left behind when Buddha visited Sri Lanka, as a symbol for worship at the invitation of Buddhist God Saman.
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