Pidurangala Rock Hike | Best Sunrise in Sri Lanka

Pidurangala Rock Hike is becoming really popular among tourists visiting Sri Lanka. 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.

Sigirya, is among the 7 Wanderers of the World, often associated with the eight. Locals refer to Sigirya as the Lion Rock, check our post dedicated to understand why. This significant place for the history of Sri Lanka is crowded with tourists and locals.

Fortunately on the other part of Sigirya there is Pidurangala. Another monolith almost the same size of Sigirya, is facing the ancient ruins. This place provide a scenic view over the jungle. Hike up Pidurangala Rock is becoming popular among backpackers visiting Sri Lanka.

The low fee at the entrance, the endurance going up and the taste of a less popular spot (not anymore), is making this place a kind of must see in Sri Lanka.

Hiking Pidurangala Rock for sunrise is so something you should put in your list of things to do in Sri Lanka on your next trip. The view in distance of Sigiryia is insane.

Watch as the sun lights up the amazing landscape of Sri Lanka, the green leaves of trees of the jungle, the lakes full of wildlife, that will leave you awe.

PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE

Actually, we made up both hikes in the same day. Pidurangala for the sunrise and Sigiryia in the late morning, it was so hot.

Despite it was hard to wake up early and climb difficult stairacase and rocks, we made it. And we have really enjoyed, make it thinking that sometimes you don’t have to stick with your plan, but get lost.

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 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 in order to don’t get lost. For a better way to reach the Pidurangala Rock Hike, you can hire a car driver.

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.

GUIDE TO 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 ROCK HISTORY

Both Sigiryia and Pidurangala Rock seems like a giant monolith place in the middle of nowhere by a giant. Many thinks that it is like that.

There his a huge mythology behind both rocks, that makes this hike even more interesting. In fact, both rocks are in the middle of a flat valley with just lakes, jungle and little hills here and there.

But let’s go to the amazing history. The books want that one of the most powerful kings of Sri Lanka, Kashyapa arrived back from India in the 5th century when Sigiriya the rock in front was a monastery.

Buddhist is by far the main religion in Sri Lanka, followed by Indu. You can understand how many sacred places devotees of buddhas. 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.

He was amazed by Sigiriya and wanted to build a fortress for himself, offering to relocate the monastery to the rock in front. The name “Pidurangala” was derived from the Sinhalese word “pidu + ran + goda”. Translating it in English, it is meaning “offered piles of gold”. This was what the King of Sri Lanka offered to the monks to go and live in Pidurangala.

The monks were so obliged to move to the golden monastery offered by King Kashyapa. It was carved in the rocks of Pidurangala.

Today you can still admire what is remaining of the old temple of Pidurangala, passing by ruins and a perfectly preserved reclined Buddha.

You will pass this part of Pidurangala Rock hike while going up. When was hiking, I saw that with low-light without taking much attention. On the way down, I was so amazed by this spot.

Monks are using this rock as a place were meditate and have less contact with others. Many people are giving to this place mystic powers, and some say that it can be still possible to see monks in meditation while hiking.


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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START CLIMB PIDURANGALA ROCK

We have tried to summarise the basic instruction to make your hike to Pidurangala Rock easier. This guide will take you to discover, where is Pidurangala located, how to access the Pidurangala hike, how to reach it and some other important information.

We will also prepare you to enter the local temple which gives you access to the path to the top. The Buddhist Temple Rules, Entrance fee and more.

WHEN TO VISIT PIDURANGALA ROCK?

Sri Lanka can be extremely hot, and more than just in the main city Colombo, you will experience that in the middle of the country. The best time of year to visit and hike Pidurangala is during the dry season. This particular part of the year is going from late December until early April.

This timeframe is not just highly advised for better condition of hiking, it is also the best to see Sigiriya and the Jungle around.


PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE ENTRANCE

Entrance fee | 500RS per person – 3$ USD (Updated 2020)

Opening Hours | 5am to 6pm – Ticket Office open at 5am.

Tips | Remove your shoes while entering in the Temple Area


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.

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.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO HIKE UP PIDURANGALA?

30 – 45 Minutes

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 ROCK HIKE IN 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.


PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE | STAGE 1

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.

Be prepared to switch path many times, it is not easy to direct yourself while hiking, and the network is not great to have GPS active. Stay in a group and watch each other, it is easy to get lost.

The first stage of your way up is the hike up to the carved stairs. The main path to the top is of around 200 steps. After this is starting the stage 2, the climb of Pidurangala Rock

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.

STAGE TWO | PIDURANGALA ROCK CLIMB

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 photography gear. I was there with the precise intention to get the best sharp shot of 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.


THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT OF PIDURANGALA

The view from the top of Pidurangala is one of the best I have seen in Sri Lanka. From the summit of Pidurangala you captivated by the amazing surrounding. There is no better view in the whole country. We have enjoyed our sunrise on top of Pidurangala Rock, and it will be etched in the mind forever.

This is a curved rock that will give you a 360° views from the summit. Here you will be able to see to the south the ancient fortress of Sigiriya. This is the best way to see the palace in the clouds. On the other sides of the Rock, you will have the best view over Minneraya and Kaudulla National Parks.

PIDURANGALA IS AN AMAZING PHOTO SPOT

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.


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HOW TO GET TO PIDURANGALA

While visiting Pidurangala Rock and Sigiriya, we suggest you stay at Dambulla or like we did, closer to the hikes in a middle way from the Minneriya National Park Entrance. It is at a good distance from the ancient rock fortress and home of another amazing landmark in Sri Lanka, the Dambulla Rock Temples.

From Dambulla is easy to reach Pidurangala Rock by bus or tuk-tuk.

BUS | From the main station of Dambulla, you can take the local bus service to Sigiriya. The bus runs every 30 minutes with the first route at 6.45 am. It will leave you 5-10 minutes walk away from the entrance and depart from the opposite side as well. The ticket will cost you 50 LKR.

TUK TUK | This is the best alternative to arrive at Pidurangala to catch the sunrise. Taking a tuk-tuk will cost you more than the bus, but is highly suggested. Grab a deal between 500 and 1000 LKR. The Journey by tuk tuk from Dambulla to Pidurangala will take around 30 minutes. Be ready to spot night wild-life while reaching Pidurangala.

PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE OR CLIMB SIGIRIYA LION ROCK?

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.



WHERE TO STAY AT PIDURANGALA OR SIGIRIYA

RESORT & SPA

We have stayed in a resort close to Minneriya National Park. It was amazing staying surrounded by nature and also comfortable. After the two hikes in a day, a dive in the amazing pool was so refreshing. Check the Resorts in Habarana from 18$ per night.

STAY IN A TREE HOUSE

While this is the most adventurous things to do in Sri Lanka. Staying in a Three house a few minutes walking from Pidurangala Hike will be our priority for the next trip to Sri Lanka. Check the Back of Beyond Pidurangala

HOSTEL DORMS

If you are on a budget you will be glad that has got many options. Staying in a hostel will give you the chance to meet other travellers, maybe do the hike together while being in cheap accommodation. Check the Hostels in Dambulla from 8$ per night.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SRI LANKA? CHECK OUR GUIDES

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CEYLON TEA | A trip through the best tea plantations of Sri Lanka.
SIGIRIYA HIKE | All the things you should know about Sigiriya Rock hike.
PIDURANGALA VS SIGIRIYA | How to choose which is the best hike for you.
SRI LANKA BUCKET LIST |All the experiences to do while in this beautiful country.
VISIT COLOMBO | The ultimate guide on how to spend 2 days in Colombo.
YOUR HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION | Understand your need and find the right accommodation for your next trip.
OUR STORIES | It’s your first time here, and you want more tips from us? Check our latest adventures.
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR | We love photography and you can understand that. Do you want to know more about what we carry on our trips? Our photography gear.

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2 thoughts on “Pidurangala Rock Hike | Best Sunrise in Sri Lanka

  1. Mani says:

    The most beautiful view I’ve seen in Sri Lanka, you can walk on a huge rock and see the landscape on every side. Amazing feeling. Also you can see “twin” Lion’s Rock on the top

    • Toti says:

      It is true Mani, the view from the top of Pidurangala is insane. We have hiked the rock early in the morning to be on time for the sunrise over the jungle. It was something that we will keep in our memories forever. Love Sri Lanka so much, we will be back soon this year maybe in our Asia Tour 2020.

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