Have you ever been to Sri Lanka, the magical island in the Indian Ocean? Or have you ever dreamt of traveling to Sri Lanka? Then you must have heard about Sigiriya: the wonderous rock fortress, which is also unofficially renown as the 8th wonder of the world and also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Well, we are not going to talk about Sigiriya today, but about Pidrurangala: the massive rock formation just opposite the Sigiriya rock fortress. It’s the best place to have glorious vistas of the surrounding landscape and an incredible view of the majestic Sigiriya rock itself. Although many tourists overlook this, we believe it’s a must-visit place in Sri Lanka. In this article, we’ll talk about all the important information regarding the hike to Pidurangala.
History of Pidurangala
The history of this place goes back to the 5th century when king Kashyapa was ruling the country. It is said that when king Kashyapa arrived in Sigiriya planning to build the rock fortress, there was a Buddhist monastery complex. He had then offered to build an even bigger monastery at Pidurangala, so monks could relocate there, thus allowing him to build his secure palace in Sigiriya.
So, keep in mind that even if Pidurangala is a touristic destination for its epic views all around, this place used to be a monastery for meditating Buddhist monks as well.
Pidurangala is located just adjacent to Sigiriya, only one kilometer away. The closest town is Dambulla, which is the heart of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. If you are traveling with your own vehicle, you can drive here directly via the Dambulla–Habarana main road and turn towards Sigiriya from Kimbissa junction. Then simply follow the signboards put along the way. Or just use Google Maps which is perfectly correct. The hike starts from the Pidurangala Royal Cave temple and there’s a big car park at the temple entrance. So, you can park your vehicle there and start the climb.
If you are using public transport, the best and the most economical way is to take the Dambulla–Sigiriya bus and arrive at Sigiriya and then hire a tuk-tuk from Sigiriya to Pidurangala. It will cost you only about 200 Rupees (~$1) for the tuk-tuk. Also, you can hire a tuk-tuk from Dambulla or Habarana town for the whole round trip as well. But it will be a bit expensive and will cost you at least 2500 Rupees (~$13).
Tips before starting the hike
- You have to go through the Buddhist temple to the starting point of the hike. So, you MUST wear a modest dress.
If you are wearing any revealing clothes, you won’t be allowed to enter. You’ll need to cover your shoulders and knees when passing through.
- And, you’ll have to behave well as it’s a religious place.
- The entrance ticket is only 500 Rupees (~ $3) for foreigners and free for locals.
- The entrance opens at 5 AM and closes at 6 PM. (But due to the COVID situation, the entrance closes at 4 PM)
- Bring enough water and some light snacks.
- Wear comfortable footwear for the hike.
- Pidurangala is very famous to watch the sunrise and the sunset. If you are planning to hike up for sunrise, or come down after sunset, bring a headlamp or a torch to guide the way.
- Do NOT bring any polythene/plastic and please do not litter.
We need to protect these places for our future generations.
The Pidurangala Hike
As mentioned above, the hike starts from the Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple and you have to go through the temple towards the starting point.
Unlike Sigiriya, the Pidurangala hike is more exciting as you have to climb through a thick tree cover. So, you won’t feel the heat much and it is quite comforting with the strong breeze throughout.
Climbing Sigiriya is just stairs. However, the Pidurangala hike is different as the hike starts with stone stairs and ends with more steep boulders to climb over. So, it is a bit more challenging than Sigiriya, especially the last stretch can get a bit cumbersome. But an average person (without any disabilities) can easily make it. We have seen even elderly people doing the hike and reaching the top. Some were carrying small children as well.
It usually takes around 45 minutes to reach the top.
On the midway through the hike, you’ll find some ancient ruins and a huge reclining statue of Buddha. There are a stone water pond and a rock inscription as well. You can have a beautiful view of the surrounding area from here as well. You also can take a little rest here and refresh yourself a bit for the final stretch which would be the most challenging part.
The Summit of Pidurangala
After a few large steps and few steep boulders, you’ll get to see the most mesmerizing view you were anticipating to see. You’ll forget about all the effort and the sweat you put to reach the top as soon as you get the first glimpse of Sigiriya rock fortress from the peak of Pidurangala. We don’t think there’s any other place for you to capture a view of Sigiriya like this.
You can get an astonishing 3600 view from the top and there’s a huge flat surface for you to walk around. If you visit around mid-noon it would be a bit difficult for you, as it would be too hot. But, the strong yet comforting breeze will take away the heat to some extent. In any case, the amazing views all around will make you forget all your discomforts. However, we strongly recommend you to come during the morning or the evening.
Sigiriya or Pidurangala?
- Views from both rocks are quite similar since they are at a similar height.
Sigiriya is only about 1m higher than Pidurangala. But you get to see the amazing view of Sigiriya rock fortress from Pidurangala.
- In our opinion, the Sigiriya hike is a bit boring since it’s just all stairs, but Pidurangala is more exciting as you have to climb stone stairs as well as climb over many steep boulders. And the pathway goes through the jungle with thick tree covers, so it’s more comforting.
- Sigiriya gets overly crowded as it is the major tourist attraction and sometimes you may have to stand on a single step (in the stairway) for several minutes till the path gets cleared. But Pidurangala doesn’t get that crowded, so you can freely climb up.
- The entrance cost to Sigiriya for foreigners is $30, but it’s around $3 in Pidurangala.
So, in our opinion Pidurangala is better than Sigiriya.
But if you have the time and the budget, try to do the Sigiriya climb as well. If you like to see ancient ruins and learn about the incredible ancient architecture, famous water gardens which operates to date, and the popular wall paintings of king Kashyapa’s Maidens (aka Maidens of Sigiriya), you should definitely visit Sigiriya as well.
Where to stay near Pidurangala
Since this is a major tourist attraction, there are many hotels nearby. With our experience, we can highly recommend the below two hotels.
Jetwing Vil Uyana
Jetwing Vil Uyana is a luxurious boutique hotel in Sigiriya, located amidst the paddy fields, jungle, and a reservoir. ‘Vil Uyana’ – the name refers to a garden of lakes. Hotel is stunningly designed and set in a beautiful setting with plenty of wildlife. It is absolutely a unique experience!
‘Vil Uyana’ is also a well-known honeymoon location in Sri Lanka. You can enjoy true Sri Lankan hospitality, in the finest of modern ecological luxury and well-crafted flourishing landscapes.
Located on the shores of Kandalama lake, this hotel provides calm and peaceful accommodations in Dambulla. It is all green with verdant trees and with a cool breeze snaking throughout the property all the time. With a seamless blend of untouched nature and authentic Sri Lankan culture and modern conveniences, it is one of a kind experience by all means.
Check our vlog about this hotel below:
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