Commonly referred by locals as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Sigiriya Rock (a.k.a Lion Rock) is an ancient palace and fortress structure with significant archaeological importance. Standing at 200-meters, it attracts thousands of tourists every year, no doubt one of the most visited tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.
Just right across the famous Sigiriya Rock, is the often overlooked Pidurangala Rock. Though not have quite the same historical significance as Sigiriya’s, the 360-degree view from the top is arguably more impressive catching sight of the 1,400-years old fortress.
Why Pidurangala Rock?
Hiking Pidurangala Rock was the only thing we did in Sigiriya; it was a stopover between Kandy and Jaffna. Despite the early wake up call, and no sunrise due to the misty weather, it was still worth the climb! So much so that we went back and try our luck for sunset.
Honestly, one of the main reasons why we chose to climb Pidurangala Rock over Sigiriya Rock is obviously the price. While it’s 500LKR (US$3) to do Pidurangala, it costs a steep price tag of US$30 for the latter. If you are considering visiting most sites in the Cultural Triangle region, be prepared for a higher budget (each site usually costs about US$25).
Unlike Sigiriya Rock which only opens at 7 a.m, Pidurangala doesn’t have an official opening time but a ticket collector was there when we arrived at 5:30 a.m. This means that you can actually climb up to catch a beautiful sunrise, revealing the solemnity of the sleeping fortress, before any tourists have set foot on it for the day.
We were curious how tricky it is to actually “climb” to the top. Contrary to Sigiriya Rock which ascend via a modern iron stairway, Pidurangala Rock requires both hands and feet to scale those massive boulders towards the top. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard, just some strength and confidence is enough to overcome it! Even with my short legs, I still managed to make my way to the top.
What to Expect?
Upon entry there’s a pretty white temple, Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya, where you pay for the entrance fee. Do make sure to bring a sarong or scarf for ladies, as you’ll need to cover your shoulders when you walk through the temple grounds. Luckily, scarves are included in the 500 LKR fee if needed.
Pass the temple and about a 10-minutes climb up, there are a few other interesting points to look out for: rock formations, a cave temple with once the largest brick reclining Buddha in the world and glimpses of the splendid view along the way. It is shaded most of the way up so it’s not too harsh of a hike at anytime of the day.
The last 10-minutes will be slightly more challenging as you’ll have to scramble up and over boulders. But don’t you agree it will be so much fun with natural rocks than walking up man-made steps? The whole ascend took us about 25-minutes, awarded by companionship of a few dogs and a 360-degree view of Sigiriya.
What Should You Wear To Climb Pidurangala Rock?
Anything comfortable is fine! We would, however, advise you to at least wear footwear with a grip. I, personally wear chaco’s sandals for the climb. Do bring something warm to wear if you are doing for sunrise. The top can be windy and cold while waiting for the sun to come out.
Getting to Sigiriya
There is no direct bus from Kandy to Sigiriya.
Kandy to Dambulla: 2.5-hours, 114 LKR (US$0.70)
Dambulla to Sigiriya: 1-hour, 80 LKR (US$0.40)
Where to Stay?
We stayed at Sigiri Rainbow Lodge and it was wonderful. One tip: instead of eating at the strip of restaurants which is expensive with so-so food, try Nirwana Restaurant just next to Sigiri Rainbow Lodge. It doesn’t has fancy decor, but the food is reasonably priced and great service!
The easiest way to get to Pidurangala Rock is by tuk-tuk, or rent a scooter like us!
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!