Climbing Pidurangala Rock and the Breathtaking Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka
The Sigiriya Cave temple and the Lion Rock palace entrance are located about four kilometers from Pidurangala Temple cave.
Most people do not climb both on the same day, or at the very least, they start early in the day.
Most tourists who do climb both in one day, use Tuk Tuks, their group tour cars or bicycles to get from Sigiriya to Pidurutalagala.
We decided to climb both rocks, and we also walked from Pidurangala to Sigiriya.
It wasn’t really a planned choice.
Having already climbed half of the way up Pidurangala, I realized that I had left my camera charger on the bedside table in our hotel room in Polonnaruwa.
At the first spot on the rock where I could get cell reception, I called the hotel to make sure I did leave the charger behind.
Next I called our driver, who suggested that we all drive back to get it, after we get down from Pidurangala.
I suggested that since we were only half way to the top, why doesn’t he drive back to get the charger, while Jules and I summit Pidurangala, then climb down, walk towards Sigiriya and climb to the summit, and after our descent, we can meet him at the Sigiriya parking lot.
He estimated that it would take him about three hours to drive there and back.
The Pidurangala rock rises high above the jungle.
The history of Pidurangala Vihara as a Buddhist monastery dates back to the first and second centuries BC.
But back then, it was a remote, hidden and unknown monastery perched on a massive rock.
It became more well known during the reign of king Kashyapa (473 – 495 AD.).
According to ancient chronicles, Prince Kashyapa had killed his father, King Dhatusena, and, fearing his brother’s retaliation, fled to Sigiriya to find a secure place to hide.
When King Kashyapa arrived in Sigiriya, there were mountain hermit monks called Bhikkus, who meditated in caves in the Sigiriya rocks.
He requested that they move to the nearby rock of Pidurangala.
As compensation, the King refurbished the old temple and made it larger.
Today, there is a small cave temple at the entrance to Pidurangala with a reclining Buddha, a sitting Buddha and a standing Buddha.
After removing our shoes and hats, we entered into the cave temple to pay our respects.
From there, a steep set of stone stairs climbs high into the massive rock.
The climb up the hundreds of steps was very enjoyable.
We were surrounded by a beautiful forest and many very large boulders.
We passed by a few meditation caves, and mid-mountain, we arrived at a large cave that sheltered a large reclining Buddha constructed of earthenware clay.
At one time, the statue was covered in plaster and painted, but now some of the plaster is gone and the underlying bricks are exposed.
Yet even now, it looks absolutely magnificent, laying there under the large overhang of the cave.
To reach the summit, we had to do a bit of rock climbing, which was very enjoyable.
The many stone stairs disappeared, and we had to climb up and down various size boulders.
We held on to tree roots and hanging vines and lifted ourselves up onto the boulders.
It was really awesome.
At the summit of the rock, we joined dozens of people who had summited the rock earlier and were enjoying the panoramic view of the jungle, the forest, the villages and the lakes below.
The breathtaking Sigiriya rock was clearly visible from the summit.
The walk down was just as enjoyable.
I love being in the mountains and walking through forests and boulders.
The walk to Sigiriya was down a gravel road with a few tiny guest houses.
We crossed paths with many monkeys and many stray dogs, sleeping in the midday heat.
The Sigiriya Rock and temple caves is a very popular tourist destination.
There are manicured palace grounds, with two moats full of water encircling the palace grounds.
There are pools and ponds and ancient trees, a herbal garden and perhaps most amazing of all, the painted cave perched impossibly high in the middle of the rock.
The cave is painted with heavenly maidens, half naked beauties with soft and loving facial expressions.
In their hands, they hold offerings of fruit and flowers.
The King built his palace on the very top of this rock.
As we got to the top, Jules told me that the palace ruins reminded him of Machu Picchu.
To get to the top, we first had to climb a very steep circular staircase up to the cave with the decorative colorful frescoes of the beautiful maidens.
From there, we climbed many more stairs and walked along the “Mirror Wall,” to get to a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock.
That was the ancient gateway to the king’s hidden Palace.
It used to be in the shape of an enormous lion. Now, only the two front paws of the lion remain.
In fact, the name, Sigiriya, is derived from this lion structure meaning Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock.
The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king’s death.
It was then used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
I loved being here in this amazing place.
I felt so fortunate to be seeing these ancient temples, and climbing The Lion Rock.
On our way down to the parking lot to meet our smiling driver, we passed more meditation caves, and more parts of the ancient capital.
We passed by many monkeys, cobra snake charmers and many vendors selling souvenirs.
By the end of the day I could feel the day’s heat, and my legs were shaking from the thousands of steps we had climbed.
On the way to our hotel, we stopped to admire some wood carvings in a large shop.
I fell in love with two large sculptures of a farmer and. a village woman, but they were too heavy to take with us, and required shipping and customs clearing, so I had to leave them behind with a heavy heart.
When we arrived at our hotel, the Sigiriya Jungles, I was delighted to see their big empty swimming pool.
We swam and refreshed ourselves with a lovely dinner of Sri Lankan veg food, feeling like the luckiest people under the sun…
With a heart filled with gratitude, I wish you a million blessings,