Saman is one of the four great protective divinities of Sri Lanka, and the one who boasts the most modest and purely Sri Lankan origins. He is believed originally to have been a pious Indian trader (or possibly a king) who, thanks to the merit he had acquired, was reborn as a god residing at Sumanakuta (as Adam’s Peak was originally called). According to the quasi-mythological chronicle of Sri Lankan history, the Mahavamsa, Saman was among the audience of gods to whom the Buddha preached during his visit to Mahiyangana, and upon hearing the Buddha, he immediately entered on the path of Enlightenment. When the Buddha returned to Sri Lanka on his final visit, Saman begged him to leave a footprint atop Sumanakuta to serve as a focus for worship; the Buddha duly obliged. Saman is still believed to reside on the mountain, and to protect pilgrims who climb it. He is usually shown in pictures with a white elephant, holding a red lotus, with Adam’s Peak rising behind.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

After a couple of weeks travelling across Sri Lanka, photographer Nori Jemil shares why this Indian Ocean island is a perfect subject. Here are 16 of her favour…

11 Oct 2017 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle…

29 Aug 2017 • Chloe Cann insert_drive_file Article
The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

11 Aug 2017 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook