Sigiriya and Pidurangala

Sigiriya and Pidurangala are two rocks in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, and I had it very clear that I wanted to take on the challenge of conquering both on the same day…

Most people that visit Sri Lanka have heard of Sigiriya: The Lion’s Rock. There is a magnificent walk up many steps to the top of Sigiriya Rock where visitors can then explore the ancient settlement at the summit.

sigiriya and pidurangala

Sigiriya Rock

In Sri Lanka’s stifling heat this is a strenuous excursion as it is, though well worth it for the amazing views and experience.

Pidurangala Rock is Sigiriya’s poor relation; though an important religious and cultural site in its own right, is not nearly as popular or famous as Sigiriya.

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

View of Sigiriya Rock from the summit of Pidurangala

Sigiriya and Pidurangala in one day

Pidurangala Rock is a stone’s through away from Sigiriya and so to me, it was the obvious choice to climb both in one day.

I’m not going to lie: it was bloody hard and it was bloody hot. Toni and I consider ourselves reasonably fit and with the heat, it was exhausting for us.

If I was to visit Sigiriya and Pidurangala again, I still think I would opt to do both on the same day (assuming, as usual that I wanted to fit as much into my trip as possible).

Here’s how it went:

Sigiriya Rock

We decided to visit Sigiriya Rock first because all the guide books and blogs say to go early before it gets hot.

Note: If you want more information about the history and cultural importance of Sigiriya Rock visit the Sigiriya Tourism website where they tell it a million times better than I could.

During the time that Toni and I were in Sri Lanka, there was no “before it gets hot”. It was constantly hot.
We left our guest house at 8am and it was already sweltering. Actually, the afternoons when the clouds would come across were quite a bit cooler than the mornings.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Best foot forward

We did think though that we might avoid a few coach-loads of tourists on day trips if we went earlier. And we were right: as we were coming down from Sigiriya Rock there were many more people going up it than when we’d set off to go up.

We were picked up at 8am by Indika in his tuk tuk and it was a pleasant ride down country roads from Habarana to Sigiriya being almost pushed off the road by a rumbling bus only once.

It took about half an hour to reach the Sigiriya entrance and Indika led us to the ticket office and then we were off.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Be honest: first thought when you saw this pic – write it in the comments now.

We went through the official business of purchasing our tickets (thirty goddamned dollars each) and then having said tickets checked and examined several times.

Once we were in the Sigiriya Rock complex we were free to follow the paths and examine the ruins as we pleased and I have to say it was very enjoyable. The grounds were much more vast than I was expecting.

Traipsing up the hundreds of steps was hard going. The heat was relentless. Still, it would be good practice for Adam’s Peak which we planned to attempt a few days later.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Up the steps

There’s a lot to see on the way up Sigiriya including the royal gardens, the cobra-hood cave and the sacred rock paintings. To get to these paintings we had to climb up an open-air spiral staircase from where the views of the surrounding landscape were spectacular, though the climb itself was a little surreal and anyone wary of heights won’t like it. (Of course, if you are afraid of heights you probably don’t want to be climbing a rock at all!).

Once almost at the top of Sigiriya is the official entrance up the stairs through the massive stone carved lion’s paws. It’s quite a stunning moment when you reach this point and quite unlike any other monument.

Sigiriya Lion's Rock

And more steps

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The lion’s claw

The final set of stairs to walk up is a bit hairy. Don’t look down and you’ll be fine. It’s also fun walking up stairs that are just about attached to the rock face. As I said, don’t look down.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Don’t look down and you’ll be fine!

Once at the top we just enjoyed the amazing views and wandered around the ruins. The ruins are just that: ruins. It’s not easy to understand what they represent unless you are an archeologist. But the ruins are vast, and even someone as clueless as me can marvel at how there must have been a whole village up there. It’s mind-boggling really.

From the top you can see Pidurangala Rock. And that’s where we were heading next…

Pidurangala Rock

We headed back down Sigiriya, taking our time, and worked our way back to the ticket entrance. At the ticket entrance you can go straight on to the main car park where you came in or you can go to the left. This path leads you to Pidurangala.

It took us about half an hour to walk from that ticket office at Sigiriya to the entrance at Pidurangala in the stifling dusty heat. It was a pleasant enough walk and there’s really no need to take a tuk tuk between the two as all the drivers that stop to chat to you would have you believe.

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Ready to begin the second climb of the day

The ticket office for Pidurangala is right at the foot of the hill and the entrance here costs just 500rs per person.

The walk was really enjoyable and easy to follow, plus it went through the trees so there was a bit of much needed shade. There were different things to see on the way such as an amazing reclining Buddha almost at the top and the interesting cave temples along the way.

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Impressive cave temple on the way up

At the top the going is a bit tough and you really have to climb over the rocks. I was a bit scared at some points but I just took my time and I was fine. Note, on the way back down this hard part turn around and go backwards and you’ll find it much easier to reach with your foot the rock you are looking for.

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Reclining Buddha almost at the top

At the top the view was absolutely stunning. Even better than the view from Sigiriya.

This is because here we had the view of Sigiriya. It had been well worth adding another strenuous climb to the day’s already tiring itinerary.

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

Second rock of the day conquered!

My verdict about Sigiriya and Pidurangala

I definitely made the right decision to visit both Sigiriya and Pidurangala on the same day. It was hard and hot but it was worth every drop of sweat.

Some people miss out Pidurangala because of time limitations or because it doesn’t seem that important but I insist you add it to your itinerary; you won’t be disappointed.

Due to the huge price difference between Sigiriya and Pidurangala (4,200rs vs 500rs) some travellers decide to visit only Pidurangala and miss out Sigiriya altogether. Personally I think that if you haven’t been to Sigiriya then you definitely have to go once. Though due to the crazy inflated entrance price, once is enough.

Where to eat in Sigiriya

After our exhausting morning we were ready for a bite to eat, a top up of water and a shower. The shower would have to wait.

We had used up all our water and there had been nowhere to buy more so we walked all the way back to Sigiriya Village in search of a place to rest our weary feet and devour a kottu roti.

We found just that at Ahinsa Restaurant, a place I’d read recommended in a blog. It wasn’t the best place and the service was poor but the chicken kottu was good and cheap and the ginger beer was ice cold. We drank about a litre each! You can read my Trip Advisor review about Ahinsa Restaurant here.

Then we called Indika and he came to pick us up and take us back to Habarana for that much needed shower.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

And I have plenty more photos from this day. Click here for my photos of Sigiriya and here for my photos of Pidurangala.

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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