Pidurangala Rock Hike – Best Sunrise in Sri Lanka

by Toti

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Pidurangala Rock Hike is becoming really popular tourist sightseeing of Sri Lanka, letting the local Authorities to rule the hike and point it on the tourist maps. Out of our plan to visit Sigiriya, we decided to wake up early in the morning and discover some hidden spots of Sri Lanka. While Sigiriya is the most famous rock in Sri Lanka, in the list of the Unesco World Heritage and a holy place for Buddhists, on the other side there is an easy climb, Pidurangula Rock.

Actually, we made up both hikes and really enjoyed it. We can’t tell you about which is the best to visit if you have the time try to hike up both. Absolutely you will find Sigiriya a bit expensive and crowded, with locals and tourists trying to reach the top, sweating for the hot weather conditions. Pidurangala on the other side is really amazing to hike in the early morning and face the forest and the awesome landscape at the sunrise.

This list will give you some suggestion on how to hike Pidurangala, which is the best time to get up the rock. Also, we will cover what to wear to hike Pidurangala Rock, rules to observe and insider tips.

Pidurangala best instagrammable spot in Sri Lanka

What is Pidurangala Hike, and why it is becoming so popular?

It is a high rock that overlooks the ancient Unesco site of Sigiriya. Pidurangala is becoming so popular nowadays because of the advantage position in front of the Lion’s Rock of Sigiriya, an ancient Fortress that is overlooking the Valley. The landscape on the summit of Pidurangala is amazing as well, crossing all sides of the valley. A 360 landscape view on Sri Lanka Triangle, a breathtaking adventure that we suggest to do. We have hiked up this rock early in the morning, to be sure to catch the first lights of the sunrise. The way to the top is not really hard but you have to be prepared. Our journey started at 4 am, waking up and prepared.

A single road is going in and out from the entrance to the monastery and the hiking up. You should pre-book a guided tour, or at least a tuk-tuk or car with driver, in order to don’t get lost.

But, really the view from the top get over any expectation. This place is becoming so popular, even more of the ancient rock of Sigiriya. Many people head there just for the view and catch the best shot. Check our last photos from Pidurangala on Instagram. The site, on top of a Buddhist Temple, is now on the top of the Instagrammable places in Sri Lanka.

You will love Sri Lanka and for sure, you want to spend more time around the island. See the two weeks itinerary which will help you to organize your trip.

Pidurangala Rock Hike

Pidurangala view over the jungle
The view over the central and the west Regions of Sri Lanka – Lakes, river and the wild forest

This is an easy hike, a little climb that people make also in flip flops. We will suggest you don’t do that. Try to avoid to be silly and take this hike seriously, the narrow path can be dangerous. Even if it is easy, especially if you are trying to reach the top for the sunrise and the passage is not lighted.

For many years the only way to enjoy the Sri Lankan panorama has been the top rock of Sigiriya. The fortress or Lion Rock as many calls it is an archaeological site in the centre of Sri Lanka. As Sigiriya, Pidurangala as well is visible from kilometres, thanks to the high over 200 metres that overhang on the valley.

Visiting the Region, pointing to a unique visit to Sigiriya skipping Pidurangala is the worse thing you can do. The sacred Pidurangala view is absolutely stunning and worth to be hiked. If you are looking for an adventurous path in Sri Lanka, hiking up Pidurangala Rock you will be satisfied.

Pidurangala Temple

Entrance to the Buddhist temple of Pidurangala
The Entrance to the Buddhist temple of Pidurangala – Here will start your hike. The ticket office is inside.

Many things are not known yet about Pidurangala. The first is that is cheaper than hike Sigiriya, but about that, we will talk in the next paragraph more in deep. The second is that before starting your hike you have to pass by an amazing temple.

Before becoming the top viewpoint over Sigiriya, the Pidurangala Rock has been an active training temple. The Buddhist monks were hiking up the rock (And some still do that), for meditation. All the rudimental passages of Pidurangala, made by woods, stones or even completely natural, have been forged by centuries by the monks of the temple.

While it is a holy place, you have to follow some simple rules before starting your way to the top. The basic is to follow the rules and traditions of the country that you are visiting.

Buddhist Temple Rules

Before start your hiking and climbing you have to pass by a Buddhist temple. Like every sacred area, temple, holy arch and stupa, you have to be covered well. For woman, you should cover your shoulders as well and the skirt should be below the knee. For man, the dress code is to cover the legs until at least the knee. Also, remove hats and don’t chew gum. But, don’t worry, once you pay the entrance fee, they will provide you with a traditional scarf that will cover your undressed parts. You should cover yourself just inside the monastery area, after, while it is too hot, you can take off the extra clothes. Please, be aware that you have to return the scarfs on your way back, or making a donation if you want to take it with you.

Respect the Buddha Statues, don’t take a selfie or point at it. Those are simple rules to be observed in any Buddhist Temple or Sacred Area.

Buddhist is by far the main religion in Sri Lanka, followed by Indu. You can understand how many sacred places devotees of buddhas. The name “Pidurangala” was derived from the Sinhalese word “pidu + ran + goda”. Translating it in English, it is meaning “offered piles of gold”. The temple of Pidurangala Vihara, as it is called, goes back to the first and second century BC. Became a leading place during the reign of King Kashyapa, who built up the fortress and the surrounding city of Sigiriya, from 473 to 495 AC.

Pidurangala entrance fee – Pidurangala Rock Hike

One of the highlights of Sri Lanka is admiring Lion’s rock of Sigiriya. This uniquely shaped rock is found in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, of which Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla are also part. You can climb Lion’s rock, where you will be mixed in tourists and locals funnel under the hotwives. The nearby Pidurangala rock is, however, a better option in our opinion. The entrance fee of Sigiriya is 4500 LKR per person, equivalent to 30 USD or £28 GBP

The Pidurangala entrance fee is way cheaper than Sigiriya, costing to you just 500 LKR, $2.8 USD or £2.20 GBP.

But it is better you know that you need transport to reach Pidurangala, the road at the night is hard to drive, no lightening on the street a high presence of wild animals that can break into your driving. So better to go for a guided hike of Pidurangala or check some of our suggestions.

Pidurangala Map

This is where Pidurangala is located, and the position compared to Sigiriya Rock. As we have said before Pidurangala is in the centre of Sri Lanka, and it is part of the Cultural Triangle of the Island, there are some cool Tours that you can be interested in.

The Sri Lankan night is really dark and we made our way from the hotel directly to the monastery.

Tips for your next Pidurangala Hike

I want to be back on the top of Pidurangala one day, and now I have learned some lessons that I will share with you. I have climbed up the rock of Pidurangala in the early morning. Our arranged transport from our hotel in Habarana was at 4.30 am. We reached the base of Pidurangala Hike 45 minutes later, that is the time frame that an expert local drive needs to reach the Temple, at the foot of the Rock. So allow you plenty of time in advance to reach before the sunrise.

Remember to bring a torch with you, the path is not lit and you may need it in some rough passages.

Hire a driver or arrange a TukTuk transport for early morning. Many tourists were arriving with tuk-tuk arranged the day before, this is a way cheaper than others, but if you are with a group is better to hire a van, is safe as well, and doesn’t cost a lot.

Carry with you a Tripod, I have collected some of my best photos in the early morning on the top of that rock thanks to my tripod. You can clearly snap Sigiriya on the other side, or the awesome valley below you with the best lights.

Pidurangala hike time

This guide is mainly focused on the sunrise hike of Pidurangala because that is what I did. But Pidurangala is worth to be visited also for the sunset. Thanks to the 360 views over the Jungle, the forest and the rock of Sigiriya you have just to find the perfect spot, sit and wait for the sun to go down. 

The list of tips will be the same, like to wear comfortable shoes, carry an extra scarf for your shoulders and a torch for lighting up your way. I will bet, that the Sunset is awesome like the sunrise is. 

If you want to know more about Sri Lanka see our detailed itinerary on how to spend 10 days in Sri Lanka.

Pidurangala Hike the two stages

For me, the Pidurangala hike could be divided into two stages, the hiking and the climbing. Both are not very difficult with more than 200 steps in different heights. The Pidurangala hike is easy, just steps carved in the rock that will take you up to the first stage of the journey. You will pass by amazing scenarios and meditation sacred spots. In the middle of your way up you will be amazed by a Buddha statue placed in a carved rock. In this iconic piece, the Buddha is in the sleepy position, around 15 metres long for 2 mt high. The material used for this representation of buddha is unusual, not like the others I saw in the Stupa or temples around. This makes your hiking even more interesting than ever.

The second stage on the way up is the Pidurangala climb. This step is not that hard, you have just to be careful to the path because of the cliffs and narrow passages. Bear in mind to carry with you a torch. The path is unlighted, despite some part of it are. I had my phone, and this was useful because many people lacked it. Arrived at the rock stage before the top, there was a small queue. Many people, around 50 people, waiting their turn to climb the rock and reach the summit. Isn’t like me and carry a lot of stuff. I was there with the precise intention to get the best sharp shot over Sigiriya and catch the sunrise over the SriLankan forest.

Pidurangala more than hike is a small climb

Pidurangala Rock Hike - Buddhist Temple

As you can understand Pidurangala is not hard. What is making a bit harder is the complete lack of lights and the rough passages. The hike is ending with a small climb to reach the top. The climb is easy and you will be supported by many other tourists.

You will also see many people, actually running up to the rock. I took it easy, helping the others to hike up, enjoying the landscape that is unique. The way down is easy but stressful. The slope is a lot and you have to make strength on your joints in order to don’t fall down.

Two photo spots looking at Sigiriya

Pidurangala instagram worthy spot in Sri Lanka

Pidurangala could be never explored if on the opposite side wasn’t Sigiriya. This awesome hike is becoming so popular because of the prospective over the famous Unesco site. Many people hike up this rock, just to grab the best shot. I did it as well, looking for the best photo location where get a shot that could fit with our Instagram feed.

But not just about that, Hike up Pidurangala, can give you a fresh touch in the early morning. I am the kind of person that wakes up early, enjoying the sunrise and the first lights of a new day. Did it quite a lot, since this blog is alive because the famous places becoming crowded from 8 am in the morning. It seems to make the places only for you, like a private event. It was the same for the Pidurangala Hike, even if it was busy to hike up in the early morning.

The top of the rock is the most crowded but is where you can place your steady tripod and snap the beautiful view. The second place is just after the climb, around 4 metres below the top of the rock, and the view is stunning as well, as you can see by the photo above.

Pidurangala Rock view over the Jungle in the middle of SriLanka - View of the Talkote Wewa
Pidurangala Rock Hike – View of the Talkote Wewa

But, there is a third amazing spot. At the end of the rock, the view is stunning too, but also underrated. All over below your feet, there are kilometres of the valley, forest, jungle, river and lakes like the Thalkote Wewa.

Check also Sri Lanka 4-weeks itinerary with many guides on how to make the best of the Island.

Pidurangala or Sigiriya

This is the most common request we have had after our visit to Sri Lanka. Many people were reaching us to understand many things about State Island below India. If the country is safe, was obviously the most questioned, but also which hike between Pidurangala and Sigiriya.

Even if is a common question, there is not an obvious answer. Sigiriya is an ancient Unesco Site, where you are going for two main factors. The Ancient Ruins of an old Fortress and the view on top of the valley. There is also a third factor, that you can find in our post about Sigiriya. Pidurangala is an awesome spot where enjoy the sunrise, or the sunset as you want, and it is one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka.

So to a common question Pidurangala or Sigiriya, we will answer, both. Plan your trip with a visit in the early morning to Pidurangala enjoying the sunrise, the hike is just 30-45 minutes. Afterwards, head back to your hotel and enjoy a good breakfast, take a nap and be ready for the next hike. You can visit Sigiriya later on, the attraction opens at 10 am. This is what we did, it was hard to do both in a day, but if you feel to do it, you don’t regret the view and the amazing experiences.

If you are looking for a more in deep local guided tour of the popular Unesco Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, we will suggest you check this.

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