The fame of Sigiriya Rock, a UNESCO Heritage in Sri Lanka is a top tourist attraction. However, the beauty of Pidurangala hike is a trip you should make as it offers a different experience by offering a view that’s far different from that of Sigiriya Rock according to many other tourists. For one, once you get to the top, Sigiraya Rock would offer its archeological ruins to wander about and ponder on. Pidurangala Rock, on the other hand, would still stun you with the natural beauty it has to offer.
The Story of Pidurangala Rock
Pidurangala Rock used to be the site of a Buddhist monastery hence, at the base you’d see the Pidurangala Sigiri Ramaha Viharaya Temple. Halfway through the hike you’d come across the Pidurangala Temple or The Royal Cave Temple, home to a giant reclining Buddha made from bricks and is 12.5 meters long. You won’t be able to hike Pidurangala Rock without passing by it. Speaking of which, first, let’s talk about what you need for the trip.
What do you need to Hike Pidurangala?
The weather can sometimes be unpredictable. One minute the weather could be very humid; the next minute you could be drenched by rain. So, bring a lightweight jacket. Keep yourself hydrated as well by bringing a hyrdro flask that will keep your water warm or cold just the way you like it during and after your hike.
Bring sunblock as there is barely any shade up there. It’s a wide-open rock and for sure you will get a sunburn if you don’t protect yourself. You may want to arm yourself for mosquito repellants too since there is a part where you go through a small forest. I didn’t really need this but others may be more sensitive.
I always bring my camera and a cover for my camera in case it rains. I mean, you get really good views of Sigriya Rock from Pidurangala so it would be good to have a camera for your memories.
What should you wear for your Pidurangala Rock Hike?
At the base of Pidurangala Rock is a temple. Pack long sleeves or shorts that fall below the knee to keep yourself covered to show respect. A light cloth to wrap around your shoulder and legs is also acceptable or if you don’t want to bother, you can always borrow a sarong which they provide at the entrance.
Hiking boots or sneakers with a firm grip would be good for when you hike in places that have slippery slopes or rocks. That’s why it’s also advisable to keep your insurance documents in case you meet an accident during your hikes. Pidurangala was an easy hike for me, however, there are parts where you have to “boulder” wherein some of my guy friends helped me out. It wasn’t that hard but it’s best to be careful as well.
How Long it takes to get to Pidurangala Rock?
If you’re staying at any of the hotels in Habarana like I did, the travel time to the base of Pidurangala is 20-30 minutes. On the other hand, if you’re staying in Dambulla, you can travel to the base via Tuk Tuk. Either way, your rides can be arranged through your hotels or hosts.
How Long does it take do the Pidurangala Hike?
The journey from the base to the top is around 20-30 minutes. It’s a relatively easy uphill climb from the bottom until the reclining buddha then it will take you around 10 minutes to boulder though the rocks to the top. Hopefully, there won’t be much of a queue but as we went during sunrise, no one was really heading down so it was quite quick since everyone was just heading to the top of the rock.
Going back however, you may have to give way for guests coming in and guests coming out. It doesn’t get as busy as Sigriya though so you’ll be fine.
How much does it cost to hike Pidurangala Rock?
The entrance fee for Pidurangala is 500 Rs. ($3) and is much cheaper than that of Sigiriya Rock at 4,500 Rs. ($30). So if you’re looking to save up a little more money, this is the place to go. I honestly preferred this view compared to Sigriya but of course Sigriya holds a lot of importance for them.
We did both for this trip.
Our Overall Experience of our Pidurangala Hike
On the day of our climb, we got up at 4AM and made our way to Pidurangala Rock. It was around 25 minutes from our hotel. It’s best to check the time of the sunrise so you can time this well. I was admittedly apprehensive as it can be difficult to hike in the dark, but we just brought our phones and used it as a torch. If you prefer to have your hands free then perhaps bring a headlamp, it would help as the path is really dark.
Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with the view of the first few glorious hues of violet, pink, light yellow streaks of sunrise. We just tried to find our own spot in the massive rock with a good view but expect to share it with others.
After enjoying the view, we then set out to find our “instagram spot”. We found that the whole top felt a bit crowded but we headed down to the right side of the rock —right, if you are facing Sigriya and there it was less crowded. We stayed there and took our pictures, chatted a bit until it was time to head back as we had to still pick up the rest of our group and head to Sigriya.
No matter what time of the day you go, once you reach the top, you’d be rewarded with a gorgeous view of the countryside, the jungles beneath, and various rock formations. It might be good to visit during sunset too, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try it. This definitely gives the best view Sigriya Rock.