Pidurangala is the smaller, less well known neighbour of the tourist draw that is Sigiriya. Its steep slopes, chaotic boulders and verdant jungle make it much more of an interesting challenge than the structured fortress beside it. However, it is also the home of an ancient rock temple, nearer to the top is a site of a larger reclining Buddha statue, old walls and an ancient inscription. So your cultural needs are satisfied.
What's more interesting about it is the meandering adventure of the way up, yes there is the formation of a clear path upwards and old stone steps, but they are broken down and blended with the natural structures around them. there are many nooks and boulders to explore, you’re tempted to intrepidly forge your own way to the top. The last stretch to the top becomes more of a literal rock climb where some nimbleness and agility are required - just enough to make it really fun without being overly challenging.
There’s something unexpected about this rock, you can’t really imagine its summit until you are faced with that final moment of hauling yourself up and being blown away by the unpredictably fantastic sights before you. The top surface of Pidurangala is large rolling field of stone, beyond which the fields and mountains spread out in a crazy perfect circle. It’s huge and undulating, different smooth levels, a rolling landscape to be blown about and from every side thudded with stunning scenery.
We reached the top in the sunset hour. When you’re at that elevation, the land and the sky in equal measure before you, the sunset ceases to be simply a confined moment of our star sinking below the horizon. Instead it becomes an evolving pulsating spectacle. That first, very present rose-gold bathing of light, the changing pink and purple clouds, the sinkdown of the rapidly defined red orb.
It was so funny how as soon as the sun sank below the horizon, every person on that rock in herd-like fashion got up and made their way down. We stayed up and enjoyed a way more intense play of colours, but had to suffer, the loners that we are, on the way down in total darkness, nearly getting lost amongst the jungle.
It used to be a uniform Rs. 300 for everyone who visited, but Sri Lanka fights tooth and nail to milk the tourist industry and now it’s free for locals (yay) and a generous donation of Rs. 500 for foreigners.
I don’t really know why it’s still quite unknown, probably simply forgotten, but strangely its not the kind of place I want to preserve in obscurity (hence this article). Despite the number of people that were there it didn’t seem like you were being invaded by humans, it was just really clear that everyone there was enjoying and experiencing the rock and the views in their own individual way, regardless of who else was there. Pidurangala gives you the space to do that.
A massive rock formation almost directly opposite Sigiriya, Pidurangala has an equally majestic view as the former of rolling lake-and-land vistas.
A rock climb for the everyday traveller.