Sigiriya’s second large rock to break through the lush jungle landscape is Pidurangula Rock. The lesser known rock is favoured by backpackers for its low 500-RS entrance fee, which is a mere bargain compared to the hefty fee that Lion Rock demands. Some may argue that the view from the top of Pidurangula is superior to Lion Rock; it definitely gives a pretty magnificent view of its cousin. Both were formed many years ago by volcanic activity and it is believed that the monks relocated here from Lion Rock when King Kasyapa built his kingdom.
I headed for Pidurangula Rock aiming to reach the top in time for splendid sunset views. I walked the long dirt road through the jungle towards the base of the rock but I was warned not to return by foot at dusk for wild elephants would be roaming and it could be unsafe. A small white temple is situated at the foot of the rock and also marks the ticket office. Passing under a small white arch I’ve now entered into Pidurangula territory; the whole rock is sacred.
Narrow steps carved into natural boulders commence the steep ascent, the view before me looks like a scene out of Tomb Raider. One set of steps lead to another and then another, heading around to the left as you are guided up around the rock. By now I can feel the sweat running down my back. The humidity is extreme.
After a while the steps stop and a path continues, still heading up. Bearing around to the right to my surprise there is 12.5m long reclining Buddha built into a crag. It’s an ideal spot to catch your breath and admire the Buddha along with the view to your left that has appeared through a clearing in the trees. Only at this point is it really evident why the humidity has intensified, a storm is brewing and it appears to be rolling in fast. From this point on the ascent turns tricky and probably explains why it isn’t such a tourist trap for only the able would be able to tackle the unchartered territory ahead. Sensible footwear is a must! There is no defined path as you face rocks and boulders that need to be climbed and scrambled over. This last hurdle takes five to ten minutes to navigate over and upwards but once over these boulders you are on top of Pidurangula Rock and you will be rewarded with truly amazing panoramic views of the jungle and vast landscape below. And yes, the view of Lion Rock is extremely special.
The sunset sky would have been beautiful but mother natures is in a different mood and has offered up a moody vista. Looking towards Lion Rock the steely dark sky deepens and the thunder rumbles all around. From the left the rain is visible moving across speedily with a haze of grey washing through the sky blurring the view.
I steal a few moments to absorb the views slightly mesmerised by the spectacle until a sharp loud rumble breaks my vision and I know that my time is up. This most definitely is not the place to be caught out in a fierce Sri Lankan storm. Knowing how treacherous the rocky climb back down could be once wet and slippy, I turn back and carefully pick my path down the boulders to start the descent only wishing I could have had more time.