An ultimate guide to the Pidurangala Rock Hike in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Introduction

You’ve all obviously heard of the Lion’s Rock in Sigiriya? Well, the Pidurangala Rock is adjacent to the Sigiriya Rock and offers an amazing view of the Sigiriya Rock, as it is at a slightly lower height. It is recently gaining popularity as a good sunrise spot for views of the famous rock as well as 360-degree views of the valleys surrounding the area. In comparing the two rocks, Sigiriya is rich in history and features dramatic remnants such as the lion’s paw and the mirror wall, including a stunning view from the top of Sigiriya Rock, but Pidurangala gives a more natural rock climbing feel and has a Buddhist temple on site as well.

Where is Pidurangala?

Pidurangala Rock is also located in Sigiriya, just neighboring the town of Dambulla in central Sri Lanka. You could base yourself in Sigiriya or many prefer to stay in Dambulla as there are more accommodation and restaurant options. From Dambulla, Pidurangala Rock is just a 30 minute ride, costing about LKR 2,000 for a two way ride, including a two hour wait while you explore the rock and come back down.

From Colombo, the Pidurangala Rock is about 180kms, about a 4.5 hour drive and can be reached via train, bus or private vehicle with a travel guide.

What is the best time for the hike?

The Pidurangala hike is best during the dry season – somewhere between December to April. Although there can be several dry days for climbing Pidurangala Rock during the other months of the year as well. For the best sunrise view early in the morning, with minimal cloud cover, March is ideal. However, it must be noted that these months are the hottest of the year, making it very necessary to carry plenty of fluids during the climb.

The ticket counter is open from 5.00 am to 6.00 pm every day during which you can do the climb at any time. You are also free to stay on the summit for as long as you like and come back down after dark as long as you are comfortable with the climb in the dark.

The Pidurangala Rock climbing experience

The white temple – Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya is at the base of the Pidurangala Rock. Remember to cover your legs and shoulders as you pass through the temple to arrive at the ticketing counter, where you can purchase your ticket from.

After a few minutes of walking, you will find yourself at the base of a huge flight of stairs, but those can be climbed quite easily. If you are fit and healthy, the climb will take you about 30-45 minutes at the most, comprising of easy staircases as well as some steep inclines and some off-road pathways.

Halfway through the hike, you will arrive at the Pidurangala Temple which dates a long way back in time. This Royal Cave Temple only has a few remains of it including the rock wall to show the foundation of the rock temple. If you are climbing in the dark for sunrise, you’ll probably miss this but be sure to check it out on the way back down. There is a huge reclining Buddha statue inside the temple which has now been reconstructed with bricks, but the original structure can still be identified.

Once you get to the temple, the remaining time to hike Pidurangala is just about 10 minutes, but it involves climbing over a few large steps and some bouldering until you get to the final lunge that takes you to the summit of Pidurangala Rock. Keep in mind, this stretch is not dangerous, just requires a few big steps to get through and is definitely worth the panoramic views you’ve been expecting!

No doubt, once you get to the top of the rock, you will have the best seat of the sunrise and the Sigiriya Rock. It is indeed a unique sight to watch the morning sun light up the skies and the valley below you.

Where to stay near Pidurangala Rock?

If you want to do Sigiriya in style, stay at the Hotel Sigiriya which offers luxury accommodation and a pool with a view of the Sigiriya Rock. There are also other accommodation options for staying in Sigiriya such as Jetwing Vil Uyana, Elephant Corridor and Water Garden Sigiriya. You could also choose to stay at low-budget accommodations in the nearby town of Dambulla.

Things to note when preparing for the hike

  • The entrance fee to Pidurangala Rock is LKR 500 per person ($3 USD). The amount collected is donated to the temple that you pass along the way.
  • Carry your own water bottle.
  • Proper hiking shoes, sneakers or trainers are recommended for this hike.
  • A camera to capture the insta-worthy views at the summit.
  • Wear suitable attire that covers your shoulders and knees. If you want to come in extra cool clothing, just carry a sarong or something to cover key areas when around the temple.
  • If you are making your way up or down in the dark (before sunrise or after sunset), carry a head torch to guide you.

Conclusion

Hiking Pidurangala Rock should definitely be on your bucket list when in Sri Lanka. And the best news is that you don’t have to sacrifice the more famous heritage site – Lion’s Rock. You could just do one at sunrise and the other at sunset because both are a quick climb and easily do-able in one day!

Connect with an expert

Dinesh N Perera
CEO

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