Hiking Adam's Peak | Sri Lanka
Legend has it that a footprint shaped mark on a boulder at the top of Adam's Peak is a footprint left by Buddha when he sought refuge on the peak during his visit to Sri Lanka. Or, if you're a Christian or Muslim, it's believed to be the first step of Adam onto earth after being cast out of paradise. Or if you are Hindu, the indentation was left by the Hindu god of Shiva's foot. Regardless of religious affiliation, Adam's Peak is a holy mountain that draws thousands of visitors each year who hike the 9 mile round trip pilgrammage to the top of the mountain, with the goal of arriving for sunrise.
April is peak pilgrimage season and EVERYONE and their grandmother wants to be at the top for sunrise. Despite what other guidebooks say, leaving at 2am will not get you to the top by sunrise unless you break all rules and cultural norms and climb on the outside of the steps, go up the "down" side, and budge in line. For a better experience, leave at 10 or 11pm. It still may take you 5 hours, but at least you won't feel like your worst self for setting a bad example.
The steps aren't what limit you on this pilgrimage, it's the amount of people. If you leave at 2 in the morning, you'll be in a non-moving line halfway up the "trail" and the remainder of the hike will progress at the pace of about 2 steps every 5 minutes.
The true heroes on the pilgrimage are the grandmothers hiking in flip flops, backs heavily arched from age; the parents carrying their sleeping toddlers; and patient pilgrims who stand for hours simply waiting to pay their respects to the temple at the top of the peak.
The top of the peak is no doubt beautiful - especially at sunrise. But unless you plan to start very early the evening before you plan to arrive at sunrise, this hike is more stressful than it's worth.