Pidurangala Rock Travel Guide
Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya is one of the ‘must see’ places on any Sri Lankan bucket list.
The Fortress, full of abandoned palaces, gardens, waterways and frescoes, has always been an important part of Sri Lanka history, and its become one of the country’s most visited cultural heritage sites (read our guide to Sigiriya here).
Fortunately, Pidurangala Rock, located adjacent to Sigiriya, provides epic views of the surrounding area, a historic cave complex of its own, a tenth of the crowds, and the most incredible view overlooking the famous Sigiriya rock.
Hiking Pidurangala Rock for sunrise has become something of a right of passage for tourists visiting Sri Lanka, and it is something one must experience if travelling in Sri Lanka.
From the peak, watch the stunning sunrise from this rock-top viewpoint, with panoramic vistas over Sigiriya in the distance. Stare in awe as the sun lights up the misty forests, lakes and villages, showering the vast central Sri Lankan landscapes in golden hues.
In our view, you can’t visit Sri Lanka without a visit to Pidurangala and Sigiriya. Explore Pidurangala Rock yourself by following below information, featuring all the tips you need to have an incredible experience.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING PIDURANGALA
1) ENTRANCE TICKET to PIDURANGALA ROCK
The Pidurangala Rock entrance fee is LKR 500 per person ($3 USD).
The fee is part of a donation to the Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya temple that you pass through to commence the hike.
The Pidurangala Rock ticket office opens at 5 am and close at 6 pm, but you’re obviously welcome to stay as long as you like at the summit.
2) THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT PIDURANGALA ROCK?
The best time of year to visit and hike Pidurangala is during the dry season, between late December and early April.
For the best chance of a perfect sunrise or sunset, March is prime time, as there’s a limited chance of cloud cover.
Do keep in mind that this is also the hottest part of the year, with temperatures and humidity exceedingly high, so always pack plenty of fluids.
The hike to Pidurangala rock is not for the faint hearted (more on that below), and, coupled with the Sri Lankan humidity and heat, can make this hike quite challenging for the unprepared.
3) THE PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE
The hike to Pidurangala top takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on your fitness levels.
Pidurangala hike START
It starts at Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya, a white temple at the base of the rock. Here, you’ll need to pay your entrance fee (LKR 500 / $3 USD) before the first of the seemingly endless stairs start (also, its a temple, so you’ll need to cover up).
The trail itself follows a well maintained, if slightly ‘off-road’ pathway through the jungle, slowly ascending over rocks and tree roots, through caves, and past rocky cliffs before making its way to the first stop on the hike, Pidurangala temple. If you’re hiking up for sunrise, we suggesting stopping by the ruins of Pudurangala Temple on the return journey, as sunrise should be fast approaching.
at MIDDLE of pidurangala rock
The next part of the hike is somewhat tricky, but seriously fun. From the temple, its about a 15 minute hike which requires a decent amount of bouldering, climbing and shimmying between giant boulders and cliffs. It’s not necessarily a hike at this point, more a European style via Ferrata, but in the heart of Sri Lanka. While it’s not overly hard to pass through this point, we do recommend taking your time to avoid any injuries.
At pidurangala rock SUMMIT
After a few large steps, you’ll tackle one final lunge to get onto the main part of Pidurangala rock, before a small walk up to witness the panoramic views you’ve been waiting to see.
4) PIDURANGALA ROCK TEMPLE
On the way up you’ll come across the ancient remains of Pidurangala Temple.
While not much remains, the most impressive sight is a 12m reclining Buddha which takes pride of place under rock face. Parts of the original structure remain intact, while the rest has been reconstructed using bricks, including the head, which was removed by treasure hunters.
Interestingly, the reclining Buddha statue actually faces directly to the Lion’s Paw of Sigiriya. There is also a 7th century rock inscription of ‘pidu’, ‘ran’, and good’, literally translated as "offered piles of gold”
5) PIDURANGALA ROCK HISTORY
Both Sigirya and Pidurangala Rock are volcanic hills rising out of the lowland jungles and central plains of Sri Lanka, and are steeped in history and mythology.
Briefly, when King Kashyapa arrived in Sigiriya in the 5th century, he discovered Sigiriya itself was a monastery complex. Wanting to build a fortress atop Sigiriya for himself, he offered to build them an alternative, similar monastery at the close by Pidurangala Rock. As the legend goes, King Kashyapa offered a ‘golden monastery’, or ‘Aran gala’, which would later become Pidurangala, which literally means "offered piles of gold”. The monks duly obliged, and a Buddhist monastery was built in the caves and rocks around Pidurangala.
Now, the all that remains is the ancient cave temple and reclining Buddha which you pass on the way up, and a stupa near the temple entrance which is believed to mark the spot where King Kashyapa was cremated.