Sunset at Pidurangala Rock is incredible. If you are travelling Sri Lanka, then the area of Dambulla is usually on peoples itineraries. This location is steeped in history and there are quite a few things to do within and nearby the town. One of these is Sigiriya. A massive ancient rock temple that is the main draw for tourists. However, the fees to enter and climb up to the rock temple are close to $30. So is there an alternative? That’s where Pidurangala rock comes in and what I’ll talk about in this article.
Why Pidurangala Rock?
Pidurangala Rock is located adjacent to Sigiriya Rock and is only slightly lower in elevation, so it is a perfect spot to view Sigiriya from slightly afar.
In fact, I would say the views are better from Pidurangala than from Sigiriya as you can actually see Sigiriya as a whole and from the top you can enjoy 360 degree views of the Sri Lankan Countryside. You miss out though on some of the cultural aspects of Sigiriya as you aren’t up close to witness them.
Also, Pidurangala is a better choice in my mind, as it’s not quite as popular or crowded yet as Sigiriya. It’s starting to gain in popularity, but not to the same extent. When you are hiking up the rock, it feels like you are more in nature and not just at another tourist destination.
How to Get to Pidurangala Rock
Getting to Pidurangala Rock is pretty simple as it’s not too far from Dambulla. In total it was about a 30 minute tuk tuk ride to get there. There is an option to get there by bus which is even cheaper, however, because I was going for sunset, I opted for a tuk tuk which would guarantee me a ride back to Dambulla.
The tuk tuk should run you anywhere from 1500 rupees to 2000 rupees, and be sure to bargain a bit, especially if you are doing the round trip.
Hike up Pidurangala
The hike up Pidurangala isn’t too difficult and the way isn’t very hard to follow. When the tuk tuk driver drops you off, you will be at a White Temple called Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya. It is here where you will pass through and pay the 500 rupees or roughly $3 entry fee.
From here the path begins and quickly you will begin climbing stairs. Even though they are steep, they aren’t super difficult. Eventually you will come upon an old cave temple. The only remains are pretty much a crumbling rock wall and a huge reclining Buddha. Once you see this, you know you are on the right way.
Continuing on from here you don’t have much to go until you reach the top of the rock. However, just before reaching the top of the rock, you will enter a semi tricky area that will require negotiating around, through and above some large boulders.
If you have a partner to help, it goes smoother, however I was on my own and still got through the area fine. It’s not exposed or super dangerous, so just take your time in this section. Once you pass the boulders you are pretty much on the top of Pidurangala Rock.
Sunset on Pidurangala Rock
The best times to hike Pidurangala Rock are at Sunrise and Sunset. For me, I had more time to do the hike at Sunset and didn’t feel like waking up early, so opted for this.
The nice thing about the top of Pidurangala is that you have amazing views all around you, so you can easily face sunrise or sunset from the top. If you are going for Sunset, I would leave Dambulla by around 3pm at the latest. Start your hike around 4pm and get to the top no later than 5pm. Then hang out up there until the sun sets.
This was what I did and thankfully was joined by just a few others. It was nice to have the company though, especially for the hike down. So most people stayed at the top for about 15 minutes after the sunset to enjoy the colors on the clouds and then headed back down.
As for Pidurangala, the rock is quite large, so I recommend you explore the whole thing. You can walk for quite a while at the top and truly enjoy the rural Sri Lankan Countryside with forests and fields.
When heading back down, I had a headlamp, which I would recommend if you are going to Pidurangala for Sunset. By the time I reached the bottom it was pretty dark and would’ve been a little difficult without the extra light.
At the bottom, I called my Tuk Tuk Driver and within 10 minutes he was there to take me back to Dambulla. I highly recommend you have a way to call or contact your tuk tuk driver as to find a free tuk tuk driver after sunset at Pidurangala could be a bit difficult.
Where to stay in Dambulla
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links through booking.com, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Dambulla and Sigiriya have lots of options on places to stay. From beautiful luxurious resorts to homestays, it has it all.
I stayed at the Evergreen Hotel and I highly recommend it. The rooms were beautiful and large and had amazing air conditioning. Also, the bathroom was quite big and had a luxurious feel to it. To top it all off, the owner was incredibly nice and helped out a lot with my travel plans and cooked delicious food each night.
If you want to see other options though for Hotels in Dambulla, then please use the form below to search on Booking.com
Tips for Pidurangala Rock
- Since this area has a Buddhist Temple, be sure to wear appropriate attire. If you need something to cover up, you can get it at the temple at the bottom of the rock before continuing on
- Since the area is quite rocky, I recommend wearing sneakers or at least closed toed shoes to protect your feet.
- If you have time and money, I’d recommend doing both Pidurangala and Sigiriya to contrast the two. Both have great views and Sigiriya has more of the cultural aspect to it.
- To avoid crowds, mornings are best before the tourist buses start to arrive. This is especially true for Sigiriya.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below!