Before visiting Sri Lanka, there’s a good chance you will have read about Lion Rock. Lion Rock is a standalone outcrop which is home to an ancient temple in the small town of Sigiriya in the north of Sri Lanka, around 175 kilometres from Colombo. It’s an UNESCO World Heritage site and a major attraction, drawing tourists in their thousands to the small town. The result: it’s very busy. Also, it’s quite expensive by Sri Lankan standards. The entrance fee is $30 (4,500rs) which could feed you for almost a week. The view from the top of Lion Rock is spectacular and it’s an interesting place to visit.
However, the smaller rock which occupies the skyline next to Lion Rock has much more to offer in our opinion.
Pidurangala rock is a few kilometres away from Lion Rock and for only 500rs you can climb to the top via a well-marked path and enjoy unspoilt views of the surrounding landscape and Lion Rock. Making the trip for sunrise is popular as the low hanging cloud surrounds Lion Rock and covers the forest canopy, creating an atmospheric vista.
We visited Pidurangala twice during our stay in Sigiriya – once for sunset, and once for sunrise. Both visits were amazing but the blue morning light is well worth getting up at 4.30am for.
From the top, you can enjoy unspoilt views of the surrounding jungle and distant Knuckles mountain range. On a clear day, you can apparently see the coast to the west. We weren’t so lucky to see the coast or a clear sunrise for that matter but the low hanging cloud and ethereal mist which rose from the jungle created an incredible atmosphere.
How to get to Pidurangala Rock
From your hotel or homestay in Sigiriya, you can arrange a tuk-tuk or taxi to take you to the trailhead which is also the entrance to the temple located on the rock. A tuk-tuk from Sigrid will cost approx 1000rs. In the dark, the path can be a little confusing but there will be friendly Sri Lankans at the bottom offering to guide you for a small fee if you think you need one. We didn’t use a guide and easily found our way to the top. The top of the trail requires some hands-on scrambling so be careful in the dark.
Climbing Piduranngala rock takes little more than 20 minutes via a well-marked path. Even so, you should make sure you’ve got water and sun cream if climbing during the heat of the day, and a torch if you plan to climb in the dark.
Travel to Sigriya
Getting to Sigriya is easy. Catch the train to Kandy and then a bus to Dambulla where you can get a tuk-tuk for the final 5km. Alternatively, you could get a taxi from Kandy which will cost around 7k rs.
Although we only spend one day and one night in Sigriya, we think it’s worth making the trip depending on how long you have to spend in the country. You can easily head north on the Cultural Triangle from here also.