On my third visit to Sri Lanka, having already visited the historic Sigiriya Rock twice, I decided the Pidurangala Rock Hike would be a better option for epic views of Sri Lanka’s most famous fortress, two of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka. While Sigiriya is more famous, many people say the views from sacred Pidurangala cannot be beaten. If you’re visiting Sigiriya and looking for adventurous things to do, here’s my guide to hiking up Pidurangala Rock.
Climbing Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya
First off, the reason I’ve called this climbing Pidurangala is there is most definitely some climbing and scrambling involved towards the top. The walk up, although there are A LOT of steep steps, is easy enough but you have to climb over some big boulders and half scramble to the top at the end. I managed to climb it in flip-flops and a dress but I di not recommend doing the same!
The whole hike up only takes about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your fitness level, then you’ll want about an hour at the top to take in the views, walk around and just sit down and think about the importance of the area and how much history there is to take in before your very eyes!
Pidurangala Rock History
If you watch my video above, you can get a quick idea of the history of Pidurangala. In brief, the King of Sri Lanka at the time wanted to build his fortress on top of Sigiriya Rock, but there were many monks living around the rock at the time. In an effort to move them, he offered to build them a much larger temple and monastery at the base of the nearby Pidurangala Rock, and they happily moved from one hilly rock to the other.
The rock and surrounding area has been inhabited by monks for over two thousand years!! At the entrance to the temple and rock climb, you will see a small stupa which is supposed to mark the spot where King Kasyapa, the king who build Sigiriya Fortress, was cremated.
How to get to Pidurangala Rock
Located a few kilometres from Sigiriya Rock, you can cycle here form your hotel (if you have bikes) take a tuk-tuk, taxi and hire a driver and guide form Dambulla to take you here. It’s best at sunrise or sunset, but any time of day will afford you unbeatable panoramic views.
Once you arrive, there is a small ticket office where you need to pay for entry – about US$3 per person. This is really just a donation to the monks that take care of the rock, the small white temple and the sacred statues throughout.
What to wear
The monks/temple provide some scarves and shawls at the start of the hike that you can borrow to cover up – it’s a sacred site so your knees and shoulders must be covered at certain parts of the hike out of respect.
You need to cover up and DO NOT do as these youths recently did and pose semi-naked at the top of this sacred Pidurangala Rock! Not only is it disrespectful, but highly illegal and could get land you in prison on Sri Lanka,
I recommend wearing trainers or comfortable sandals, covering up your knees and shoulders, wearing a hat and bringing lots of water and sunscreen as it can get sweltering hot up there.
Best time to do the Pidurangala Hike
In general, the morning is the best time to do the Pidurangala Hike because it won’t be as hot, it won’t be as busy and watching the sunrise from the top will be a memorable experience. Later in the day photography can get tricky as the heat creates a think haze, which makes it difficult to take good shots looking back at Sigiriya.
Flying drones at Sigiriya and Pidurangala
Drones are strictly prohibited at Sigiriya and there is no avoiding the No Drone signs all over the area. I believe too many hobby flyers were flying at the top and it was becoming a huge danger for visitors with the risk of drones crashing into each other.
While at Pidurangala Rock, I did see two people flying drones but the tourism board told us it isn’t technically allowed…but if you stay a few Km’s from Sigiriya or just want to get some quick shots from a distance it should be okay.
I got a few quick shots of both Pidurangala Rock and Sigiriya from near our hotel – I didn’t get too close and it was cool to see both rocks in one shot. You can check them out in my video!
Where to next? Continue your journey through my Sri Lanka travel series and make your way to beautiful Ella!