The gentle west wind hums/ As it blows in from the lake/ Over the fields and swaying palms/ The soul songs of the waves.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Adam's Bridge & Adam's Peak
I used to think that Adam’s Bridge in South India and Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka were named after some Englishman, from the Raj days. But while researching for Ram Sethu controversy, yesterday’s post on my blog, I came to understand that the name is from the original Adam of Eden.
According to some Islamic texts, Adam, after being banished from Eden, walked down to South India, crossed over to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the causeway between Palk Straits and Gulf of Mannar and climbed the 2,243 meters mountain in the south of that country. It is claimed that the 'first man' stood atop the peak on one leg, a penance that lasted for 1000 years. As a result, his foot mark became imprinted on the rock on which he stood. Adam would have been a giant of a man because the footprint measures 5 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 6 inches! The legend also indicates that Sri Lanka was the nearest thing to Paradise on earth.
The mountain, Adam’s Peak, is popularly known as ‘Sri Pada’ (sacred footprint). It is a holy place to Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and to lesser extent, to the Jews. That is something unique. The Buddhists believe that the footprint is that of Buddha, made during his final visit to Lanka. The Hindus consider it as Shivan’s Adi Padam, caused by his thandavam (dance) atop the peak.
When the Portuguese reached the island in the 16c, they didn’t want to be left out of the script and claimed that the sacred footprint was that of St. Thomas who brought Christianity to Lanka. There is a similar assertion about the impression on a rock at the famous St. Thomas pilgrimage centre at Malayattoor in Kerala. But that I believe is more man-sized. I don’t think that any mention of St. Thomas having had feet of giant proportions exists in any text. Whatever the claims may be, the Adam’s Peak is beautiful as you can see in the picture below: