Sri Lanka is a top tourist destination in the world because of its unbeatable natural beauty, unique cultural heritage, and its majestic history. When considering the historical sites in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is probably the most popular and it is also famous as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. As you might already know, Pidurangala Rock is a mountain peak in the neighborhood of the UNESCO world heritage site, Sigiriya. This is a great hiking spot with an amazing view overlooking Sigiriya and not to forget its archaeological and cultural value.
Pidurangala recently gained fame as the breathtaking photographs of the panoramic views from the mountain top started surfacing on different social media platforms. The views from the Pidurangala are must-sees if you are a tourist visiting Sri Lanka. Hence, we thought of focusing this read on this wonderful attraction. Continue reading for a full overview!
History Related to Pidurangala Rock
King Kasyapa, who reigned Sri Lanka during the 5th century AD, built the world-famous rock fortress, Sigiriya. Sigiriya was a safe hideout for King Kasyapa as he assassinated his father, King Datusena to acquire the throne. He was hiding from his brother Mugalan who was the rightful heir to the throne and he was planning revenge. King Kasyapa found that there were Buddhist monks meditating at the site of Sigiriya. Hence, he made a request for them to move to the Pidurangala rock. The king reconstructed the monastery in the nearby Pidurangala rock and relocated the Buddhist Bhikkus there as his compensation. The new monastery in Pidurangala was famous as ‘Uppalawanna Kashyapa Girri Viharaya’. Maybe the royal Buddhist temple of the fortress during King Kasyapa’s monarchy established this.
However, although we often discuss the history of Pidurangala rock along the lines of the much famous Sigiriya, its history goes way back in time. According to the beliefs, the site provided shelter for Buddhist monks who meditated in seclusion since the 1st and 2nd century BC. These were times way before the rule of King Kasyapa. However, the monastery gained much importance and recognition under the patronage of King Kasyapa. So, all in all, what we can mention is that Pidurangala rock holds a rich history and a cultural heritage that is second to none!
Why Should You Hike Pidurangala Rock?
With its recently gained fame, Pidurangala is attracting many local and foreign tourists. First of all, the 360° view of the area including the elevated view of Sigiriya is the main reason why Pidurangala is getting more popular day by day.
Pidurangala provides a great hiking experience with epic views on the top. From the top of Pidurangala rock, you can see for a great distance over the lush greenery with Sigiriya. The sceneries during the sunrise and the sunset are just breathtaking. Hence, there are wonderful photo opportunities in the viewpoint and you’ll be able to take iconic photos symbolizing your trip to Sri Lanka.
Pidurangala rock has been inhabited by Buddhist monks for thousands of years. The path of the hike lays through an ancient Buddhist temple called ‘Pidurangala Sigiri Raja Maha Viharaya’ and a reclining Buddha statue.
Apart from the ruins of this Buddhist site, there aren’t many significant ruins of ancient buildings on the premises. So, if you enjoy exploring nature, Pidurangala could be an even better choice. The hike is also intriguing as sometimes the path is off-road. The hike is totally worth it considering the spectacular views on the top.
In comparing the entry fees also, Pidurangala is a very cheap option, unlike Sigiriya. Pidurangala is ideal for a budget trip but the extraordinary experience is invaluable. So, owing to all these reasons, we suggest that you should hike this amazing Pidurangala rock!
Pidurangala Cave Temple
The religious attraction, Pidurangala cave temple is the ancient Buddhist temple located in the Pidurangala rock. This area belongs to the Matale district.
The name ‘Pidurangala’ in English means ‘offered piles of gold’. The temple has been there in Pidurangala since the first century BC. It was reconstructed under the reign of King Kasyapa. The temple is built in a cave of the main rock formation. Pidurangala cave temple is known to be a ‘panchavasa’ as it contains five ritual buildings. They are Ancient Stupa, Chapter House, Image House, Bodhigara, and Sangharama. The highlight of the complex is the reclining Buddha statue made out of Brick.
Pidurangala royal cave temple is also identified as an archaeological site. The temple is situated in the midst of a thick forest. The temple site is not crowded with tourists and you can see how Buddhist pilgrims engage in religious rituals especially on poya days. It gives out the peaceful vibes of a rural Buddhist temple.
You can take 15-20 minutes to explore the premises on your way to the mountain peak. It will be an interesting visit as you can get an idea about how Buddhism has influenced the culture and the Buddhists of the country. However, it is necessary to take a separate ticket to enter the temple. However, the Pidurangala cave temple is a prominent part of the Pidurangala rock that you shouldn’t miss!
Things to Know Before Hiking Pidurangala Rock!
Pidurangala Rock rests in a unique location and it should be a top choice in your Sri Lankan tour. However, there are a few things that you should know before planning this Pidurangala trip. The below FAQs contain everything that you need to know with regard!
What to Wear when Hiking Pidurangala?
Pidurangala cave temple is situated at the entrance to the Pidurangala rock. When going through the Buddhist temple, it is important to wear suitable attire for a place of worship. So you have to cover your body from your shoulders to knees. You also have to remove your footwear and hats. The temple offers shawls and sarongs at the entrance for those who need them, but make sure to return them on the way back. But on a busy day, you may have to wait at the entrance to borrow such clothes. Therefore, it is better if you can take your own shawl or any such clothing to avoid waiting in queues. You can remove the shawl and change it back to your usual as soon as you leave the temple premises. These requirements are only for the very beginning of the hike.
Then, make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothing suitable for a hike such as a t-shirt and shorts. The area is also quite hot so remember to take a hat. You have to go through the forest and in some places, there are rocky areas to climb too. So it will be easy if you are wearing hiking shoes.
What to Take when Hiking Pidurangala?
Keeping yourself hydrated is very important in a hike. As you already know, the climate out there around Pidurangala is quite hot. Hence, take a refillable water bottle as plastic is not allowed on the premises.
The mountain peak is sunny so pack your sunscreen too as you may need to reapply. Then, if you are traveling in the early morning or late evening, take a torch or a headlamp since you have to travel across a thick forest.
There aren’t any shops on the way so pack yourself a little snack like an energy bar. Also, don’t forget your hiking boots or shoes too.
Last but not least, take your camera and ensure that it has enough space because what’s the point of going to this spectacular spot and not capturing the iconic view?
How Hard is it to Climb Pidurangala?
The hike is quite hard but of course, it is manageable. If you are physically fit, then there’s nothing to worry about. At the beginning of the hike, there’s a set of stairs that pave the way to the Pidurangala cave temple. The road is in good condition, but a little rough too.
Then after the temple, the hike gets a little difficult as there are large boulders and cliffs on the way. This part is adventurous and adds so much fun to the whole experience. The last part needs some effort but it is only for a short distance. You have to find your way through the hike. Still, the boards with the arrows that direct you through the footpath are sure to help you.
After a spellbinding journey through the woods, you’ll end up looking at the jaw-dropping views on the top. As a whole, we can introduce this hike as a medium-difficulty hike.
How Long Does it Take to Climb Pidurangala Rock?
Generally, the hike takes about 30 to 40 minutes. But the time totally depends on your fitness levels. If you are not physically fit enough or else traveling with kids, the hike could take more than an hour. However, there’s no need to rush yourself through the hike as it can be hard traveling on bumpy roads. Take rests if necessary and there are plenty of places to stop on the way and admire the surroundings. Your safety must always be your top priority.
When is Pidurangala Rock Open for Visits?
The ticket counter opens at 5 am and closes at 6 pm. There is no strict time limit to visit it, but it is better to travel only during this time period as traveling at night across a dense forest where wild elephants roam around is very dangerous. However, you can stay as much as you want on the top of Pidurangala from 5 pm to 6 pm.
Is there any Entrance Fee to Visit Pidurangala?
Yes, it is 500 LKR which is around 3 USD per person. This is a mandatory fee and the authorities consider this fee as a donation for the Pidurangala cave temple. This entry fee includes head and shoulder covers to enter the temple premises.
How to Get to Pidurangala Rock?
Pidurangala is approximately 181 kilometers away from Colombo. You can use public transportation methods such as taking the bus to Dambulla or taking the train to Habarana and hiring a tuk-tuk or a taxi for the remaining distance to Pidurangala.
However, using public transportation is quite time-consuming and tiring. If you hire a taxi from Colombo, it is just a 3 hours ride. If you are traveling from Kandy to Pidurangala, you can take the bus to Dambulla and the bus ride will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can also book a taxi from Kandy to Pidurangala. Using public transportation is obviously budget-friendly but on the contrary, using private transportation is comfortable.
Dambulla is the nearest main city to Pidurangala. From Dambulla, you can take the bus to Pidurangala for around 50 LKR or get a tuk-tuk for around 1000 LKR. There’s a very short distance from Sigiriya to Pidurangala. You can get a tuk-tuk for about 200 LKR as it is not a walking distance.
However, plan your transportation methods considering your accommodation plans and the time that you plan to hike Pidurangala. It is better if you have a good rest before starting the hike.
What is the Best Time to Visit Pidurangala?
The best time to visit Pidurangala is the dry season which is during the time period between December to April. This is the best time to catch the mesmerizing views without any barriers of cloud covers.
How are Accommodation Facilities around Pidurangala?
There are many hotels, bungalows, villas, and home-stays in the area and there’s no trouble in finding accommodation. Also, most of these places are amidst scenic natural settings enhancing the delight of your stay.
The Bottom Line
Sigiriya is probably already on your to-do list in Sri Lanka. If so, consider paying a visit to Pidurangala also as some even claim that the views from Pidurangala rock are even better than Sigiriya!
It is genuinely a rewarding experience to hike through the incredible environment and see the panoramic views at the top of this less known but absolute gem. Your eyes will be blessed with one of the best views of Sri Lanka.
Also, the whole area of Piduranagal is a wonder of nature. So, make sure to not leave any polythene or plastic behind as it is our responsibility to protect these beautiful places for the sake of our future generations.
Above all, we hope this article gives you enough reasons to visit Pidurangala. You are going to fall in love instantly with the breathtaking views from the top of Pidurangala rock. So, never miss the chance of exploring this wonderful attraction. Happy and Safe Travelling!