Sri Lanka: Pidurangala – an alternative to climbing Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Just across from Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a Pidurangala Rock, as challenging a climb but more affordable.
Having climbed to the top of Sigiriya Rock Fortress the day before we were looking forward to climbing its closeby partner, Pidurangala. At 200m it is only a tidge shorter than the Lion Rock Sigiriya. 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.
This place is less touristy and to honest, there is not much to see. Access to the rock officially opens at 5 am and closes at 6 pm – and many people chose to climb early or late to see the sunrise or sunset. It should be noted that the stairs and rocks can be quite slippery in the early morning because of dew – so be careful. We decided, on our guides advice to go a bit later in the day when things had warmed (and dried up a bit)
Parking is a little tricky so be patient and getting here is more challenging. If you don’t have a driver then the easiest way to get here is by tuk-tuk from the local town of Sigiriya. The journey costs about 200 rupees.
There is a minimal entrance fee of 500 rupees (a fraction of getting into Sigiriya’s Lion Rock). At the entrance to the trail leading to the top there is a small temple, so ou MUST cover up shoulders, knees and remove shoes at the temple at the start of the trail. There might be some cover-ups available – but this is not guaranteed so take something with you!
A couple of things to beware of: no plastic is allowed on trail (reuseable water bottles are okay) and there are no toilets after you set out upwards!
The trail leading up is mostly a man-made staircase, but the steps are uneven and higgledy-piggledy so you need to watch your step. The climb is steady but not too bad.
At around 30 to 40 minutes you will reach a cave temple, complete with a reclined statue of Buddha. There are also some pretty good views from here.
To get to the top means moving beyond the cave temple. Here the path disappears and you begin clambering over rocks, which are slippery with dust – even with good walking shoes on. We pressed on. Just before the summit, the trail narrows even more and becomes a bit of a bottle-neck. It reminded me of the pictures I had seen of queues of climbers waiting to reach the summit of Mount Everest. There was an interesting mix of people trying to get to the top, some tourists and quite a number of locals – who were making the climb is sandals or bare feet. At this point, there is a narrow space you have to scramble through to get to the plateau atop of the rock. Concerned about my camera and my size being able to get through the gap I decided to hold up but Karen, ever determined went on. With the aid of some friendly tourists and Sri Lanka soldiers who just happened to be climbing the rock she made it through.
The pictures that Karen took from the top show why people make the effort. There are spectacular views across the jungle towards the Lion Rock of Sigiriya Fortress and Palace.
I am very sad I did not make the effort to squeeze through to have seen this for myself!
Of course, as always, the journey down was a welcome relief – and we were just in time to avoid the main heat of the day.
In our opinion, it’s a must-do especially since it’s much cheaper than other local attractions like Lion Rock. The climb is moderate for the most part but getting to the very top requires some clambering over rocks which for some folks (like myself) could be challenging – but don’t let that put you off trying.