Which Rock is better to climb?

by | Mar 20, 2024

When the early Arab traders named Sri Lanka Serendib, it became the etymological root of the word ‘serendipity’. And if it is serendipitous encounters that you are after, look no further. The verdant teardrop island in the Indian Ocean is a treasure trove of wild, ancient, cultural and mystic sites. Among those are the dramatic rocks rising above the landscapes. With views, palaces and monasteries at their summits, you must ascend to believe the beauty. So, which rock should you be climbing? We are giving you our take on three of the most singular rocks, worth every step to the top.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress


In the 5th century AD, when Kashyapa seized the throne from his father, he lived in fear his brother, the rightful heir, would return to avenge his father’s death. That fear led him to build an impenetrable fortress. Sigiriya Rock became the spot he chose.

The granite rock, 590ft (180m) high, swallowed by the jungle, seemed perfect. The area used to be a monastic home for Buddhist monks who lived in caves and rock shelters since the 3rd century BC. His palace was built at the top, accessed by passageways cut into the rock face between an intricately carved pair of lion paws. It is how the Lion Rock became a monumental fortress.

Sigiriya isn’t just a rock fortress but a water garden and the home of the second-most famous frescoes in Asia, after Ajantha caves in India. Interestingly, Sigiriya frescoes resemble Ajantha cave paintings. The rock also features a mirror wall with verses written by early visitors from the 8th to 13th centuries. It is also one of South Asia’s best-preserved examples of urban planning.

The symmetrical network of perfectly engineered water gardens at the foot of the rock is an ancient irrigation masterpiece. There are also bathing ponds and pools at the top of the rock, which fill up with rainwater. These supply water to parts of the gardens with a series of drains cut into the rock and a large cistern, feeding the underground conduit system. Another series of underground conduit terracotta pipes use gravitational force and hydraulic pressure to supply water from the Sigiriya tank to the water gardens. The gardens of Sigiriya also include terraced and boulder gardens.

However, the view is perhaps the most phenomenal of all things here. There are some 1,200 steps leading up to the summit. Its 360-degree view of the surrounding plains and thick jungles is breathtaking. The ancient city of Sigiriya, which King Kashyapa I ruled, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most visited of all sites in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle.

Pidurangala Rock


It is Sigiriya’s most incredible viewpoint. Located 2.5 km north of Sigiriya, Pidurangala is as ancient as the Lion Rock. It is 200m tall and offers equally amazing 360-degree views. According to legend, when King Kashyapa chose Sigiriya to build his palace, he relocated the monks living around the rock to nearby Pidurangala. He built a monastic complex to accommodate their needs.

A modern-day temple built in the 1930s is at the base. There is also a giant reclining Buddha statue in the cavern. Unlike Sigiriya, there is no clear-cut path. The second half involves some bouldering. It means you should be fit enough for the hike. Sunsets and sunrises are exquisite from the summit, and you get to photograph Sigiriya from a unique vantage point.

Little Adam’s Peak

Little Adam's Peak

If the 2,243 m of Adam’s Peak is too arduous, why not shorten the trip and tackle 1,141 m for still spectacular views?

Travel deep into the Central Highlands to the little town of Ella, flanked by misty hills. Ella is perhaps most famous for its Nine Arches Bridge, a colonial-era viaduct between Demodara and Ella railway stations. However, as you explore this charming town, you will come across several vantage points with sweeping views of the hills and valleys.

One such point is Little Adam’s Peak. Stroll through a blanket of tea plantations, and a good path will take you to the summit without breaking much of a sweat. You are in for a real panoramic treat, with the Ella Rock and Ella Gap in the views, too.

You can hike back or follow the trail to Nine Arches Bridge, taking you to town. From there, hike onwards to Ella Rock for more gorgeous scenery. Early mornings and early evenings are best for the hike. Make sure to hike back before it gets too dark, as it is easy to get lost in the hilly trail in the dark. It is a relatively easy climb – the easiest of the trio we mentioned.

Sigiriya, Pidurangala and Little Adam’s Peak are worth your effort and time. You will know for yourself when you get there. However, they all offer something unique and different. Sigiriya offers extraordinary history, heritage, engineering, irrigation, art and fascination. Pidurangala offers exceptional views of Sigiriya and the jungle cover of the surrounding plains. They have uninterrupted views of the thick jungles of the central plains. And Little Adam’s Peak is all about the views. And not just any view but mesmerising ones, only second to ones at the World’s End. So, which would you choose? Or is it all three?

Blue Lanka Tours takes you to lofty heights of luxury travel and tailor-made holidays in Sri Lanka. We curate itineraries meaningful to you. Our expertise is always at your service every step of the way. Discover the hills, rocks and mountains of Sri Lanka. Hike and climb, sit and relax, and soak up the views. Do you want to know more about the best summits to conquer?