Pidurangala Monastery is said to be the temple of the great rock fortress of Sigiriya. The Sigiriya rock was occupied by Buddhist monks who were meditating during the time period of King Kashyapa I (473-475 CE). When he has decided to built a fortress in the great rock, those meditating monks had to move to a new location. It is said that King Kashyapa I has built Pigurangala monastery to accommodate monks displaced by creating his fortress on Sigiriya rock.
Pidurangala, not known to many thousands of visitors going to Sigiriya, is situated very close proximity to the great Sigiriya Fortress. There are two routes to get to the temple, one staring from the Sigiriya itself and the other from Sigiriya - Illukwewa road about 2.7 Kms from Sigiriya turn.
Road map - Pidurangala is just above Sigiriya
When reaching the temple, one can see the ruins on both sides of the road. On the side of the rock there is a newly built Thorana Entrance to enter in to the current temple premises. There is a Boo tree and other buildings in this area. One has to climb little bit further to get to the Image House which has built in a cave on the rock. This image house has two chambers, one outer and one inner chamber. Inner chamber is the more older one which hosts all the Buddha statues.
Pidurangala new temple entrance Pidurangala archaeological site
Image house seems to be built recently Inside of the image house (old image house)
By the side of the Image House, there is a narrow staircase to climb the rock. One has to climb about 20 minutes through the forest to reach a set of caves once used by Buddhist monks for meditation. the basement and few walls of this cave has been recovered by the archaeological department. Just after passing these caves, one can reach somewhat flat area on the side of the rock. Here inside a huge rock cave, there is a reclining Buddha statue created using bricks and mortar.
Stairs by the image house Stairs continue through forest Meditation caves Cave and the Pudurangala stone inscription
Upper part of the statue has been destroyed by treasure hunters and restored by archaeological department. But the plaster is not restored. It is said that this reclining Buddha statue is the largest of its kind (made by brick and mortar) found and it is around 48 feats long. It is also said that this statue was built by King Kashyapa the first to worship from Sigiriya, his rock fortress. The statue is inline with lion entrance, and folklore says King Kashyapa has worshiped Pidurangala temple and the Buddha statue from lion entrance everyday. It is said that the name “Pidurangala” is created as a combination of Pidu + Ran + Gala, which means “worshiped golden rock”. It has also been noted the flowers carried by the maidens depicted in the Sigiriya frescoes face the Buddha image at Pidurangala, giving the impression that they were making their way to Pidurangala.
There is no clear path beyond this statue, but through rocks you can climb up to the summit of the rock. Path is difficult but manageable (Not recommended for elder people or children). At the summit you can see beautiful Sigiriya Fortress in a view just like an aerial view. There is also remains of a pagoda on the summit but only as a soiled mountain and few bricks here and there. At the summit, one can have a clear view of the area including many lakes, Sigiriya and Ritigala range.
Sigiriya from top of Pidurangala
With this spectacular view, one would certainly forget who difficult it was to get to the summit and would never leave Pidurangala without getting to the summit. A visit to Pidurangala would take only about 2-3 hrs with reaching to the summit of the rock, so next time when you plan a trip to Sigiriya, don't forget to visit this beautiful historical rock monastery. Your Sigiriya visit would not be complete without a visit to Pidurangala.