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Pettigala Kandy: Hike & Visit to Bambaragala Temple

Pettigala Kandy: Hike & Visit to Bambaragala Temple

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Pettigala Kandy is a hiking area located in the Pethiyagala Teldeniya District near Kandy, Sir Lanka.

After cruising down the idyllic surf coast of Sri Lanka’s West Coast, it was time to head up into the highlands. As soon as we arrived in Kandy, we set out in search of any hiking opportunities.

The Pettigala hike near Kandy for me was a much-needed, refreshment that offered views that well and truly exceeded my expectations! Below I’ll help you plan your hike from the Pettigala trailhead, as well as a bit of information on and photos of the Bambaragala Buddhist Temple at the start of the hike.

How to Get to Pettigala From Kandy

The Pettigala hike is located approximately 20 kilometers from Kandy in the Pethiyagala Teldeniya District. However, since most people tend to stay in Kandy, I'll provide directions from here.

  • By far, the best and most convenient option to get to the Pettigala hike from Kandy is to take the public bus.
  • I suggest walking to the central Kandy Market Bus Stop, where there are dozens of buses departing on different routes. Ask for a bus to "Digana." There should be a bus departing every 30 minutes or so.
  • This bus route travels east along the Mahaweli Ganga and stops at several small villages en route to Wegala. Overall, expect a 45-minute bus ride from Kandy to Digana.

Once you arrive, you can pay a rickshaw driver to take you the remaining 5 kilometers to the Bambaragala Purana Rajamaha Viharaya Buddhist Temple (the start of the Pettigala hike).

However, instead of getting a rickshaw, we decided to walk from Digana, which only took us about 45 minutes. We followed the length of Victoria Gold Club Road before arriving at the stone steps of the Buddhist Temple.

Finding a motorbike was difficult in Kandy. In fact, to our surprise, it seemed to be the most challenging in Sri Lanka! Since we had just returned our Tuk Tuk, we walked around for hours, asking for rentals to no avail. Nevertheless, taking the bus proved to be really easy and convenient.

Buddhist statue at bambaragala temple near kandy, sri lanka

Starting the Hike: Visit the Bambaragala Buddhist Temple

The trail up to Pettigala Rock begins with a stroll through the Bambaragala Buddhist Temple. While I came for the hike and views, I left with a new-found astonishment and appreciation of the beauty and history of the Bambaragala temple.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by resident monks who told us of its long history, stretching back over 2,000 years! We spent some time exploring the cobbled courtyards and appreciating the incredible cave statues and ancient paintings before continuing up the hill to Pettigala Kandy.

Tip: Bring a long-sleeve shirt or shoulder covering, as well as long pants to show respect when passing through the monastery.

Update: Bingo has let me know in the comments that there are now some dogs that are known to follow climbers to the top of the rock. He made a great suggestion to take some food and water for them as a reward.

Pettigala Hike: Independent Hiking Guide

  • Hike Duration: ~ 1 hour
  • Elevation: 760 m AMSL (200 m+ elevation gain)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Pettigala hike begins from the top of the stone steps of the Bambaragala monastery. Although not immediately obvious, there is a well-worn trail that continues into the forest just past the top level of the steps. If you have trouble finding the trail, you can ask the monks to direct you.

The hike to the top of the Pettigala viewpoint is a little tricky to navigate at times, especially since sections can get a little overgrown. However, if you follow the generally worn trail wrapping up to a thick forest hillside, you shouldn't have a problem.

The track consists of rooty undergrowth and is fairly steep in sections. After climbing about 200 metres, you will come to a grassy clearing, where you will see several large boulders. These make for great viewpoints over the surrounding highlands and Victoria Lake.

However, the best view from Pettigala Kandy is from a flat rocky outcrop just a few hundred meters to the right of the first clearing. You can navigate to this viewpoint quite easily by following the worn sections in the grass, aiming for these GPS coordinates: 7°17'10.2"N 80°45'36.0"E.

View from Pettigala Kandy

The view from Pettigala Kandy stretches out over the Sri Lankan central highlands. From this viewpoint, hikers are rewarded with panoramas over the Victoria Dam catchment and surrounding mountains. If you have the opportunity, I'd highly recommend making the trip up to Pettigala for sunrise, as I'm sure the views would be even more spectacular!

Pettigala kandy viewpoint
Pettigala kandy viewpoint hike, victoria dam

After enjoying the view and climbing back down from Pettigala Rock, we decided to test our luck of hitching a ride back to Kandy. This was a bit of an experiment for us because we'd never hitchhiked in Sri Lanka. However, to our surprise, we were kindly offered a lift by the first truck to come past us on the Gold Club Road!

Hitch hiking to pettigala rock sri lanka
Hitch hiking in kandy sri lanka

Kandy Accommodation Guide

Below are my top picks for the best places to stay in Kandy.

Views from the bedroom suite at the aarunya nature resort and spa

1. Aarunya Nature Resort and Spa Luxury

The Aarunya Nature Resort offers the best bang for buck in Kandy. Visitors get free bikes, and access to a swimming pool, fitness center, and a private villa!

The golden crown bathroom with large room

2. The Golden Crown Mid-Range

Infinity pool looking over the beautiful highland forest? If I were on a higher budget, this would be the go-to. The Golden Crown is one of the highest-ranked hotels in Kandy. But, don't take my word for it— check the reviews.

Dorm room at 2in1 kandy hostel

3. 2in1 Kandy Budget

While this one isn't that close to the Market Station, I still have no problem recommending it. It offers one of the best vibes for backpackers in Kandy and offers incredible mountain views.

Did you enjoy the quick guide to the Pettigala hike near Kandy in Sri Lanka? If you're looking for more adventures and travel inspiration for Sri Lanka, don't miss my other guides and blogs below!

Also, If you have any updates or questions, please help other travelers out by leaving a comment below!

Pettigala kandy - hike & visit to bambaragala buddhist temple
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Bingo Little

Monday 4th of December 2023

Hi Olly, Thanks for the post. I know it's been a while. Was curious if you met the dogs at the foot of the climb. They usually accompany climbers all the way to the top and guide you if you are not sure of the trail. Worth telling people to take some food and water for them as a reward.

Olly Gaspar

Tuesday 5th of December 2023

That's a great idea Bingo, thanks for the update. I've inserted it into the blog post.

SL Traveler

Saturday 26th of June 2021

Hello Olly...! Thank you very much for visiting Sri Lanka. We also recently visited this place. This is nice blog post and this information were helped us to know more about Pettigala. Hope you will visit Sri Lanka again after the pandemic period.

Thank you.

Olly Gaspar

Saturday 26th of June 2021

Hi guys,

Awesome, what a great spot hey? I'll definitely be back, I miss Sri Lanka a lot.