Sigiriya Rock is the number one tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and the main reason most tourists travel to Sigiriya. But it was another adventure that captivated me during our stay in Sigiriya. In fact many other travelers I spoke to also agreed that Sigiriya Rock was great but it was Pidurangala Rock that was the more memorable experience.
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While Sigiriya Rock is rich in history and has some pretty dramatic features such as the lion’s paw and the mirror wall, Pidurangala Rock has a much more natural feel, despite also housing a temple.
Pidurangala Rock is adjacent to Sigiriya Rock and is the best viewing spot of Sigiriya Rock as it is only slightly lower. Pidurangala is a popular spot for sunrise as you can enjoy 360-degree views of not only the valleys but also Sigiriya Rock.
There is no need to choose between the two. Many travelers wake up for the sunrise at Pidurangala and then head to sunset on top of Sigiriya Rock. This is exactly what I did and I highly recommend it.
At the base of Pidurangala Rock, you will find Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya, which is a white temple. Pass through the temple and pay the $3 USD entrance fee (much lower than the $30 USD entry fee for Sigiriya Rock. At this point, women can also loan a scarf to cover their shoulders and legs if they forgot to bring one or wear longer clothing.
Tip: If you are on a tight budget, definitely do the Pidurangala Hike as you will still get to enjoy Sigiriya Rock but $30 is a lot for a backpacker on a budget.
The hike doesn’t ease you in. After only a few minutes we were at the base of a huge row of stairs. Not what you want at five in the morning but they didn’t last long.
The hike only took us 20 minutes and was relatively easy despite the incline and some parts of the path being a little bit ‘off-road’.
Halfway through the hike, you will reach the Pidurangala Temple, which takes you back in time although not quite rivaling the history of Sigiriya Rock.
The Royal Cave Temple is survived only by a few remains. A rock wall still stands to show the foundation of what was once a rock temple. We missed it on the way up in the dark but stopped to check it out on the way down. A huge reclining Buddha, lays inside the temple and we also didn’t stop to take it in on the hike up but it was unmissable on the way down. It has been reconstructed with bricks but much of the original structure remains intact.
Pidurangala Hike (cont.)
After you reach the temple there are only 5-10 minutes of trekking remaining. However, this part of the trail involves some bouldering. While it may seem easy to many it might be a bit challenging for some. There are no dangerous sections just a few boulders, which require a big step up.
Sunrise view from Pidurangala Rock
Once you reach the top you will have the best seat in the house (the whole of Sigiriya) for not only the sunrise but also of Sigiriya Rock. The sun doesn’t rise directly over the Sigiriya Rock but it was still a beautiful way to start the morning watching the sun light up the valley.
We arrived an hour before sunrise. Typical photographers running by the motto, ‘It’s better to be early than late.’ However, it was nice to just sit and chill, enjoying the isolation and peace up top. Only a couple of other tourists joined us closer to the sunrise time. If you want to time it perfectly I would arrive about 45 minutes before the official sunrise time for that day, although this depends on how long the hike will take you.
It’s definitely worth the early wake-up and was one of my cherished moments from my time in Sri Lanka. Sunset at Pidurangala Rock would also be spectacular as it was over at Sigiriya Rock!
WHERE TO STAY NEAR PIDURANGALA ROCK AND SIGIRIYA ROCK
We stayed at Hotel Sigiriya, which is the most popular hotel in the region and is incredibly luxurious. This is how youdo Sigiriya in style! It has a pool with a view of Sigiriya Rock, in case you didn’t get a good enough view at Pidurangala.
Click Here if you want to check the rates and availability of Hotel Sigiriya.
WHERE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is a huge region so it depends on where you are and what attraction you are visiting as to which accommodation will be best. For example, when you are visiting Sigiriya Rock, Hotel Sigiriya is clearly the best choice! Below I have recommended my favorite accommodation in each region.
- Top pick – a stunning estate in the Tea Country: Thotalagala
- Best overall experience (with Sigiriya Rock): Hotel Sigiriya
- Best for heritage in Galle: Galle Fort Hotel
- Best for elephant safaris: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana
- Best for beachfront bliss in Tangalle: Buckingham Place
- Best for exploring Colombo: The Kingsbury or the Movenpick
- Best for home-cooked food in Kandy: Green View Boutique
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Getting a tattoo in Sri Lanka: MY EXPERIENCE GETTING A TATTOO IN SRI LANKA
Portrait photography in Sri Lanka: PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN SRI LANKA: MARKETS & MOUNTAINS
Sri Lanka Packing List: THE ULTIMATE SRI LANKA PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY