Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya – What I wish I knew before I went

Sunset up at Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is one of the most visited towns in Sri Lanka so it was a no brainer that we decided to visit on our recent trip.

However, wanting more from the city we decided to spend much of our time exploring the less touristic things to do in Sigiriya.

That led us to places such as Ritigala and of course Pidurangala Rock.

Although not off the tourist trail, it’s certainly not as popular as Sigiriya Rock (aka Lion Rock.)

After seeing many amazing ruins around Sigiriya including the ancient monastery of Ritigala, we were craving a viewpoint that we didn’t need to explore.

One to relax at and watch the sunset.

Pidurangala rock was perfect for this, and to us, it’s a must do! In fact, it was one of the best things we did in Sri Lanka and made our trip to Sigiriya one to remember!

Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

A magical sunset up at Pindurangala Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
A magical sunset to ourselves (not really we just cropped everyone out!)

Summary

Just in case you’re in a hurry here’s a few things to know about hiking up Pidurangala Rock!

  • About a 30 to 40-minute hike
  • 500 rupees entrance fee
  • You MUST cover up shoulders, knees and remove shoes at the temple at the start of the trail
  • Cover-ups are sometimes available but bring your own for busy periods – find out below what happened to us!!!
  • Best for sunrise and sunset
  • Pidurangala Rock opens at 5 am and close at 6 pm ( this is the ticket office, you can stay up at the rock until dark)
  • Snakes are in the area so be careful
  • Medium difficulty hike
  • No plastic allowed (not strictly enforced)
  • No toilets at Pidrangala Rock or on the trail

What is Pidurangala Rock?

Enjoying the view from Pidurangala rock after hiking to the top
Jumping for joy on Pindurangala Rock

Pidurangala is an almost 200m high rock that sits to the north of the much more popular Lion Rock (which is only 1 meter taller.)

Pidurangala Rock which translates to “offered piles of Gold” is an important place for Buddhists and was first used as a Buddhist monastery. It is believed to date back to the reign of King Kasyapa before the first and second centuries. That’s pretty old!

These days, the cave temple / Buddhist temple near the top of the hike is still visited by locals and tourist alike but most visitors come for the spectacular views of the surrounding area and Lion Rock!

Getting to the top of the rock is done by hiking along a manmade staircase and path.

In my opinion, it’s a must-do especially since it’s much cheaper than other attractions like Lion Rock.

The path to the top of Pidurangala Rock!
The path to the top of Pidurangala Rock!

How to get to Pidurangala Rock?

From Sigiriya

Pidurangala is located in the small town of Sigiriya only a short 200 rupee tuk-tuk ride from the town center. If your visiting from Sigiriya then a tuk-tuk is the best way as its a little far to walk from town and there are no buses.

From Dambulla

Dambulla is the other town popular for visiting Pidurangala rock from. There are a lot of awesome things to do in Dambulla including the famous Cave Temple or Rose Quartz mountains.

From Dambulla, we recommend getting the bus from Dambulla to Sigiriya and then getting a tuk-tuk. This is the most budget-friendly option as a tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Sigiriya will cost around 1000 rupees each way. The bus, on the other hand, will only cost around 50 rupees each way and then the 200 rupees tuk-tuk to the rock.

If you can’t be bothered saving the little bit of cash then you can organize a tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Pidurangala rock return for around 2,000 Rupees and they’ll even wait for you at the bottom. They will usually wait for 2 hours so if you want more time to negotiate it beforehand!

Rather take a tour? Browse lots of different Pidurangala Rock and Sigiriya tours here.

Sunset photo of Pidurangala Rock
The view is beautiful so you’ll want to spend a bit of time up at Pidurangala Rock

From Colombo

It is common for people to travel to Sigiriya on a short trip to from Colombo. If you plan on doing this then the best way is to get a private driver.

Other methods such as the bus are slow and if your time is in Sri Lanka is short then this is your best option. Colombo to Sigiria takes around 3 hours by car and its pretty much the same from Negombo.

Check out information about a day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo!

Hiking Pidurangala rock

Signs along the path to the top of Pidurangala Rock
How many steps??!

The hike to the top of Pidurangala takes around 30 minutes to complete. If you don’t consider yourself fit then allow 45 minutes to an hour.

The path to the top is well maintained up until you reach the Pidurangala Cave Temple. After the cave temple, the “hike” becomes more of a scramble and you must find your own path to the top over some large rocks and boulders.

To help, there are some spray painted signs to direct you to the safest way.

The hard section of hiking on Pidurangala rock
Climbing over boulders on the last section of the hike to the top!

For me, the climb was no problem, however, if you are injured or not as young as you used to be (we all get there) it may be a challenge. So please take your time – the view isn’t worth hurting yourself for!

Be careful on the climb and watch your footing. Many of the rocks are loose and we saw a snake on our way up while we still had our shoes off!

What I wish I knew before hiking Pidurangala Rock

Showing the dress requirements at Pidurangala temple
After waiting we finally got to borrow a scarf to cover Bailey’s shoulders and legs!

At the beginning of the trail, you will need to pass through a Buddhist Temple. This means you MUST cover your shoulders, knees and remove your shoes.

This is strictly enforced!

I wasn’t aware of this and Bailey wasn’t allowed to start the hike! We had to wait for someone else to come down with a covering until we could start the hike!

If you don’t have your own covering there are some on loan but during busy times you need to bring your own so you don’t have to wait for one to be returned. They literally won’t let you start the hike unless you’re covered!

The temple is only in the first 100m of the hike and you will be able to put your shoes back on and uncover yourself once you leave the temple.

The start of the Pidurangala Hike and temple
The start of the hike and the temple!

Pidurangala Cave Temple

The cave temple is another temple only a few minutes from the top. Here you don’t’ have to cover up or take off your shoes.

Although much of the Pidurangala temple buildings have been destroyed, the remains of this ancient monastery are still very cool to see.

At the cave temple, there is a reclining Buddha that must be some 30 feet long. This Buddha statue is actually very well preserved compared with the other ruins.

You can’t miss the temple on the way up unless it’s dark so be sure to look out for it on the way down or up if your hiking for sunrise or sunset.

The lying Buddha statue!
The lying Buddha statue!

What does it cost and other important info

There is a 500 rupees entrance fee (around $3 USD) to climb Pidurangala Rock. This is paid at the entrance gate after you have entered the temple.

What time does Pidurangala Rock open?

The entrance gate opens at 5 am and closes at 6 pm. However, you can be up at the rock after that time but not before.

Best time to hike – Pidurangala Rock Sunset or sunrise

The best time to hike Pidurangala Rock is at sunrise or sunset. Many people say sunrise is better however looking at the position of the sun it doesn’t really matter. We visited for sunset and loved it.

If you want to hike for sunrise or sunset then be sure to check the sunrise time and take a flashlight. After or before you will be hiking in the dark and the path isn’t the greatest – not to mention the snakes!

Looking over at Lion Rock/ Sigiriya Rock!
Looking over at Lion Rock/ Sigiriya Rock!

What to bring?

Water – You will need water for the hike. Unfortunately, there is a rule that doesn’t allow plastic bottles on the hike. This is because people leave them behind. If you’re not one of those people (I really hope you’re not) then bring yours in a backpack or get a reusable bottle.

Shoes – You will need them when it comes to the last bit of climbing. Thongs (flip flops) won’t be ideal.

Cash – There is no payment method other than cash at the entrance

Torch/Flashlight – if you’re hiking at sunrise or sunset

Where to Stay in Sigiriya

Sigiriya Lion Lodge – This was one of the best places we stayed in Sri Lanka. For $15 we got a private double room with aircon and the owners were so lovely. The rooms are basic but the service is outstanding.

Sigiriya Rock Hide Home Stay – We actually tried to book here but they were fully booked. This hotel has such amazing reviews especially considering there are over 1,000 on booking.com alone! It’s a budget place and rooms are $30 a night with breakfast.

Hotel Sigiriya – This is a very famous hotel in Sigiriya with a beautiful pool that has views of Sigiriya. It’s perfectly located and a great option if you have the budget!

Where to stay in Dambulla

New Peacock Resort – A budget hotel that is walking distance to town. The reviews are really good especially for the price of $11 a night without breakfast.

Sayare Inn – This is where we stayed. Although a little out of town there are some restaurants nearby. The owner is also a tuk-tuk driver so he’ll do you cheap deals getting around town or find a friend who will.

Jetwing Lake – This place is gorgeous and although a little out of town, we recommend it if you have the budget for the $80 a night!

Sigiriya Rock vs. Pidurangala Rock

Sunset up at Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

In all honesty, after visiting Pidurangala Rock I decided not to visit Sigiriya. We visited lots of ruins in Sri Lanka and visited more for the views than anything! We were also turned off by the $30 USD price to hike Sigiriya Rock.

If you also are turned off by the price then read our things to do in Sigiriya post and check out the ancient monastery of Ritigala we visited. It only cost $2 to visit and was a great example of Sri Lanka’s ancient ruins. In fact, it was really impressive and the stonework was similar to that of Machu Picchu.

Below are some comparisons of Pidurangala and Lion Rocks:

The Views – The views are the same as both rocks are almost the same height. However, from Pidurangala you get the view of Sigiriya Rock!

Cost – Pidurangala costs $3 and Sigiriya costs $30

Hike – Sigiriya takes a little longer to hike up than Pidurangala

Quality of ruins – Pidurangala has one small section of ruins at the Buddha statue and that’s it. They aren’t that impressive. Sigiriya is home to the remains of the ancient palace. So for sure Sigiriya is better for that.


Climbing Pidurangala Rock was an awesome experience and the views from the top are stunning. Both Bailey and I thought that for the price, views, and the entire experience is one of the best things to do in Sigiriya by far. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

-Daniel

Keep Reading

Things to do in Ella – Ella is without a doubt one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka. Find out all the awesome things to do here!

Things to do in Trincomalee – in this blog we not only tell you the things to do in Trincomalee but the things others suggest to avoid!

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