A massive rock formation almost directly opposite Sigiriya, Pidurangala has an equally majestic view as the former of rolling lake-and-land vistas. Short of viewing it through drone footage, the summit of Pidurangala is also the best possible place to get an eyeful the rock fortress itself. It's not merely all about stunning views though: Pidu isn't just another nameless rock, it has its own little history and backstories.
Other than just being a climbable rock which is nearly the same height as Sigiriya, Pidurangala was also a meditative retreat for monks. The hill is peppered with caves and little cells which were allegedly used by them. It's said that when King Kasyapa built the Sigiriya rock fortress, he relocated the monks there to Pidurangala, and then refurbished and expanded the monastery under his patronage.
I haven't climbed Sigiriya yet, but have been told that this is tougher than that: where Sigiriya is all stairs, Pidurangala has what you could call two levels; stone steps at the first, and then boulders and more boulders to climb over after that, constituting the second.
We were a group of Sri Lankans so got to walk in free, but I think entrance costs about Rs. 500 for non-local tourists. Mind you, they tried to rip us off as well, but stand your ground and point out how Sri Lankan you are and they let you pass.
As mentioned, the first part of the climb is really easy. Just a series of steps, so take deep breaths and scoot up. Then prep yourself for the hard bits where you'll need to exercise acrobatic agility to manouver between boulders and wriggle between rock faces.
First things first though: once you're done with the stairs, you'll come upon a ledge in which you'll notice the ruins of some brickwork (on your right). On your left is a massive drop overlooking the countryside. The brickwork is actually the cells divvying up rooms/ meditational spaces for the monks, if I recall correctly. At the end of the cells is a giant reclining Buddha — which was apparently the largest brick statue of a reclining Buddha at one point of its existence.
There's also a pond (which I found a bit strange because where did the water come from?) which is home to a variety of water critters and flora, including snakes. There's also some ancient script carved into the rock floor. This is protected by a light metal railing.
Keep an eye out for brilliantly coloured lizards and camoflaged water snakes.
The last bit of the climb is a literal vertical ascension. Wedge yourself between the rock and do a bit of tummy wriggling, and you'll find yourself on a flat, slightly slanted ledge which will give you your first view of the rock fortress in the distance. It's stunning to say the least, but that's not the end of it. If you want a 360 degree view of the countryside around you, climb the rock behind you for (dare I say?) the best view in the area. Best, because it also has Sigiriya in it.
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.