‘Shall I visit Sigiriya or Pidurangala? Which one is better? Sigiriya is so expensive, is it enough to just see the other rock next to it instead?’ I usually answer that question at least once a day. And while most Sri Lankans make it themselves easy and claim (in their limited English here in Dambulla, so they are unable to provide an extensive answer) both rocks are the same and offer the same view, only the price is different (Rs. 4500 versus Rs. 500), I am sorry to tell you, but that’s simple wrong!
Before I went up on Pidurangala for the first time myself I asked feedback from guests who had visited both rocks. And all of them told me that they are totally different. You cannot compare them. t’s as if it happens to be two sights and one site, but that they not at all substitute each other. Climbing Pidurangala myself for the first time about a year ago and afterwards again Sigiriya and again Pidurangala, I am well able to tell you a lot about the differences now.
So what I usually recommend is not to see either Sigiriya or Pidurangala. It’s best to see both rocks. The visit of Sigiriya – climbing up this “box”, seeing the ruins of the king’s palace on top and wondering how on earth they carried all those tens of thousands of bricks up there all these years ago – is a unique experience in this world. It shouldn’t be missed.
And then seeing Sigiriya from Pidurangala completes the picture of Sigiriya. Enjoying the panoramic view on top of Pidurangala you’ll see hills and mountains everywhere in the distance and it’s super beautiful. But then you see the Sigiriya Rock and you will be amazed by seeing this boxy shaped rock, that’s unlike any other rock in Sri Lanka. Out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere! A truely amazing sight! Right there and then you’ll understand why king Kasyapa decided to built his palace on Sigiriya. He needed a safe place and you can’t get any remoter and more inaccessible than this.
If you think the visit of Sigiriya is expensive, have a look in my other post, where I explain its pricing.
Sigiriya or Pidurangala: Main differences
Sigiriya and Pidurangala don’t actually have much in common other than their location and height. Indeed they are quite different from each other. But here are the main differences.
When you are on Pidurangala the view is stunning, because you have the amazing view of Sigiriya! But then you look at Sigiriya’s highest point, which means you can’t see anything on top of Sigiriya. Now you might be thinking that the view from Sigiriya will be about the same, only without Sigiriya in it. The ladder is true, but the view does not at all feel the same, for a simple reason: From one side of Sigiriya you see Pidurangala – and hardly notice this inconspicuous rock. But one the other end of Sigiriya you are awaited with a most scenic view of a lake in front of mountains. Every tourist lingers there for ages to enjoy this view and takes hundreds of photos. And from Pidurangala you can’t see that, because of Sigiriya Rock being in the way.
The other big main difference is the climb itself. Pidurangala is a rock like so many others here in Sri Lanka. I like to compare it to the Dambulla Rock. You walk up rocky stairs along a shady path in the jungle and once on the top you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful open panoramic view. It reminds of hiking.
In Sigiriya on the other hand the climb is part of the actual sight. You’ll walk up some rocky stairs, a spiral staircase, pass some kind of open cave with frescoes in the middle of the rock, stroll along the “mirror wall”, walk through the Lion’s Paws and up the zigzagged final staircase to the top – all the time wondering how on earth the people back in Kasyapa’s days were able to carry all those needed tens of thousands of bricks up there. Occasionally you’ll spot some kind of stairs the size of a footprint hewn into the edge of the rock and you will contemplate how many people might have lost their balance and hence their life trying to reach the top of Sigiriya… A truly different experience to the climb of Pidurangala – but well worth the effort!
So you still have to make your own decision whether to see Sigiriya or Pidurangala or just both. But as Pidurangala only adds another Rs. 500 and 2 hours time to the bill, definitely consider it!
For more information on Pidurangala have a look here or on http://seelanka.net/sigiriya/pidurangala.html. More information about Sigiriya are provided in my other posts here.