Mulgirigala Rock Monastery

Mulgirigala Rock Monastery

Mulgirigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery in Ruhuna almost isolated like Sigiriya.
There is a dagaba on the rock. This cave temple has a great historical significance dating back to 2nd century B.C. There are seven Viharas in Mulgirigala. There are seven Buddha image sculptures in these viharas. Mulgirigala was built by King Saddatissa in Third Century B.C.
Mulgirigala contain many beautiful wall paintings based on Jataka stories of "Wessanthara" and "Telapaththa" These wall paintings are different from Kandian era paintings.
The paintings that show women playing music instruments are specific to Mulgirigala and they are not found anywhere. The archaeologists say that this painting style is unique to Mulgirigala and differ from the kandian style. They also contain images that are more real than kandian paintings and contain more colours.
533 steps to the summit
We will be climbing 533 steps to the summit. The steps, although uneven in certain places, are well maintained & the tricky flight to the top can be tough but enjoyable. We commence the ascent to the summit of the sacred rock at the dwellings of the bhikkus (Buddhist priests) at the base. A stone path soon gives way to a flight of steps leading to the flank of the rock.

The first terrace
These steps end at the first terrace, where there is a Bo tree & twin cave temples known as the Paduma Rahat Viharaya with two 14 m Buddha statues in the state of Parinirvana (final extinction-eternal release from the suffering of the cycle of life death & rebirth) & images of Hindu deities God Kataragama, God Vishnu & local deity God Vibishana among others. The interior walls & ceiling of the Paduma Rahat Viharaya are covered with fine murals-some very old, some not so old, but all of them are equally intriguing.
The second terrace
Then we climb once again till the second terrace called Madamaluwa (middle courtyard) on which is situated the Madamaluwa Viharaya. Mulgirigala is another excellent example of an ancient living temple, as it is an important destination for devotees, & this terrace with its shrines is an ideal place to witness their devotions. These shrines are popular with devotees since it is believed that favours asked here are invariably granted. Plenty of vendors to offer you hot Belimal tea (herbal flowers boiled in water) drunk with solid coconut honey called jaggery. There are fresh divul (woodapple) fruit-drink.
The third terrace
Once again we climb along, but now a steep ascent till we turn into a flight of steps hewn from the solid rock, to reach the third & largest terrace, the location of four cave temples. The main temple, the Raja Maha Viharaya, is an ancient temple with a recumbent Buddha statue 15m in length. It is believed to be one of the 64 temples erected by King Kavantissa, father of the hero of the nation, King Dutugemunu (161-136 BC) of Ruhuna.
Sri Lanka's Rosetta stone
The Raja Maha Viharaya serves as both an image room & as the potgula (library). On a visit to Mulgirigala in 1826, colonial civil servant George Turnour found in this library Sri Lanka's Rosetta stone, ola leaf (palm leaf manuscripts) containing the key to translate the Mahawamsa (the Great Chronilcle); Tika (commentary) made it possible for the Mahawamsa to be translated into Sinhala. The translation enabled scholars to study the glorious unbroken history of the island of Lanka since 543 BC to comparatively modern times & correlate with the numerous & varied evidence in the form of inscriptions, great living monuments such as rainwater reservoirs, stupas & temples & archeological ruins.
Three more temples
The other three temples are Aluth Viharaya, Naga Viharaya & the Pirinivan Viharaya. The pond right in front of Naga Viharaya is believed to cure female infertility. The pond also bears a 12th century inscription in Sinhala giving the ancient name of Mulgirigala as Muhundgiri.
The fourth terrace & the legend of the great snake
The ascent to next terrace, the penultimate one, being so steep, we will be climbing with an aid of an iron chain. Now the terrace. It is possible to look down a fissure extending almost all the way down to the ground level, a phenomenon attributed by legend to a great snake that sprang from a tree up at the rock, splitting it asunder. If a couple of coincidences could have caused it, then the snake causing such an impact on a rock ought to have been as large as an Anaconda. South American name Anaconda is said to have been derived from Sinhalese name, Henakadaya. Among many other dictionaries, The American Dictionary of the English Language indicates that the name could be an alteration of Sinhalese Henakandaya. Then again it must have fallen exactly on a fault line of the rock. Then again, that would call for you to stretch your credulity a bridge too far. So we refrain from insisting on the legend. But then again the legends too, like everything else have some origins.
The final climb & the panoramic view
The final climb is a steeper one. We pass a Bodhi tree believed to be one of the saplings of the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, before reaching the summit with a renovated stupa, image house & a temple. A tricky bend takes you to the summit. We have a panoramic view stretching to the southern coast. Mulgirigala contain many beautiful wall paintings based on Jataka (550 previous births of Buddha) stories. These wall paintings are different from Kandyan era paintings. The paintings that show women playing musical instruments are unique to Mulgirigala. The archaeologists say that the painting style is unique to Mulgirigala and differ from the Kandyan style. They also contain images that are more real than Kandyan paintings and contain more colours.

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 3 h

Tourist reviews about Mulgirigala Rock Monastery

Nice monastery with sleeping budha
Paulo P [TA], ,

Lot of buddhist and hindu pictures and statues.Entrance is paid 500lkr per person.You can have guide which will charge you 1000lkr or more.Lot of interesting things to see and learn in monastery and beautiful view on the top of it.Monastery is actually built in rock which is very interesting.Only minus is really LOT of stairs to the top of it.

Beautiful, but challanging walk
Klara2536 [TA], , Budapest, Hungary

Really nice sight, do take the effort to walk up.
Suggest not to make use of the local guides, as not very good English speakers and hardly any info shared ( 100 lkr) . You are better off if you read about the sight before/after .

Flowers can be bought close to the entrance outside (for 50-100 rupies) , suggest to take them and offer to Buddha.

Stair really steep, not impossible though.

You can get a blessing for a donation on two levels even, on the way down fresh coconut milk (for 100 lkr.)

The whole sight and scenary is very nice, pity so little information available on the premises.

Very interesting, great views
Mantamike [TA], ,

We enjoyed this for the $50 total cost including driver, entrance fee and guide. We drove from Tangalle first thing which is a great idea as it is a bit of a work out and the cooler temps were a help. The caves are interesting, but the rock and view is the best. Make sure you go outside the wall at the top and walk to the east out onto the rock outcrop. Pretty scary as it drops straight down but view is amazing. Unless your "guide" speaks your language, and appears to have some knowledge, save the 1000rupee fee. Ours was mildly annoying but he did show us the secret trail at the top, so worth it in the end.

Worth the trek
Nick B [TA], , Yokohama, Japan

Especially, if you don't have the time to visit Sigiriya, this rock temple is worth a look. Go early morning or late afternoon as it can be a tough climb in the midday sun - superb views across southern Sri Lanka. Could do better with toilets, rubbish & tourist information in English

wisboroug... [TA], , west sussex

Mulkirigala is a fantastic place. Having visited Sigaria and Dambulla , I would place it only just behind these world class attractions. The climb is steep but interesting with 4 separate cave temples at different levels and the rock painting is wonderful.
If you are staying on the south coast and want a break from the beach hire a tuk tuk and make this trip, a great morning out and some good exercise

Nice Buddhist temple
OliG83 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

If you're in the area, definitely worth the trip. We went by bus from Tangalle (one quick change, 30 mn overall one way for Rs. 35) and then paid the Rs. 500 entrance fee each ("donation"!!!).

It's a very nice temple in the jungle, carved in the rock. Be ready for some steep climbing, a lot of steps, but the caves are rewarding with old paintings, giant Buddhas and several rooms to explore.

Only slightly annoying things are the constant donation boxes (20 scattered throughout the site, would Buddha approve when you've already paid the hefty fee?!) and the very disappointing view at the top (the bushes hide any potential view!).

But overall it's a very nice way to spend a morning. I say morning as the afternoon sun combined with the steep steps would make you lose your body weight in sweat. Go early. Or at sunset.

A well worthwhile trip into rural Sri Lanka
alexandra... [TA], , Durban, South Africa

I loved the bus ride to get to Mulkirigala as you get a real taste of rural Sri Lanka. The short walk to the cave temples from where you get off the bus is lovely and very peaceful. The temples at the various levels of terraces are very interesting and some of the paintings on the ceilings are gorgeous. Would highly recommend doing this trip. The monkeys are great too as you can watch them for ages while they feed :-)

Spectacular view from the top
RobRoy88 [TA], , Edinburgh, Scotland

There are around 500 steps going up to the top, so it's best to visit in the evening around 4pm if you don't want to expire! Interesting terraces with Buddhist cave paintings and some Hindu additions, as well as reclining buddha statues. This site is not in the best condition, but it is a working temple with resident monks, and still visited for full moon festivals by many local people. It's definitely worth a visit, and even though we had a guide, you don't really need one if you have a reasonable guide book.

Climb down on the rock!
Sidsel196... [TA], , Frederiksberg, Danmark

Not a hard climb to the top. If you can make a coin rest on the shelf of the pagoda, you may make a wish! Walk on the outside of the fence down to the big rock - great view but take care!

Monkeys galore!!!
Wen-Ren [TA], , Oxford, United Kingdom

Having visited many a temple one would think we would give another a miss. This one is worth it for the hill walk and the naugthy monkeys!!!

Stunning Rock Temple
Amanda B [TA], , Truro, United Kingdom

Mulkirigala is a must see in a tropical forrest setting within high rocks which offer an incredible view of the area down to the sea. The enormous reclining buddhist sculptures set into decorative caves with hindhu adornments too are so atmospheric and we recommend you take the services of a local guide. Ours was fabulous and we also had a blessing at the last cave where we were given white wrist bands. We will never forget our visit there.

Worth visiting
KatyStepa... [TA], , Prague, Czech Republic

A great piece of hinduistic history. The whole place is fully worth visiting. In addition, there are tens of monkeys on the temple, which is a great bonuss to take some pictures with them.
There are a lot of hard stairs, but when You got to the top, You see that the hard work (going the stairs) is worth it.

Mulkirigala Rock Monastery
Ed S [TA], ,

The Rock structure of this temple is impressive and so are some of the paintings, however it is poorly maintained by the monks and there is little information for tourists.

Touch the Divinity of nature and Buddha
Anya19490... [TA], , Kiev, Ukraine

Buddha monastery and temple build in the high rock - with around 500 steps, picturesque view and plenty of monkeys in the trees. You can have a blessing and hear to the service.

Quiet and beautiful temple
InkaLysen... [TA], , Minsk, Belarus

Quiet, calm and not crowded give a special atmosphere to this temple. Stunning views from the top. At this point, you're faced with spirituality and peace, no fuss. Painted walls of the temple and sculptures of Buddha is amazing.
We were after sunset and got to the evening service, very impressive.

The entrance ticket cost 300 rupees.

Great Budist monestry
Andy M [TA], , Londonderry, Vermont

This is a very old Buddhist monetary, You can see and study about the real Buddhism culture in Sri Lanka at this temple. There is a huge rock and at the top of the rock you can see the see 20-30 kms away. Fantastic location and good exersice

Nice rock temple
Ruwan_Rat... [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mulkirigala is a lovely rock temple situated in south of Sri Lanka. Very nice rock temple with some ancient ruins. Lovely place with so much to see. I like this place a lot.

Visitng After A Long Period
Kerala201... [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Just for personal reasons. I have gone there as a child & thought i would do it again. It is always interesting for me to explore

cant even believe
Navod S [TA], , Melbourne, Australia

This is a Buddhist monastery 10 - 15 Km away from the Tangalle and don't forget to see this 250 years aged place

Nice walk, beautiful view
pbconspir... [TA], , Baltimore, Maryland

The temples carved into the rock aren't especially unique, but the old paintings are beautiful. The climb to the very top, however, is well worth it, with the crazy steps carved into the rock. At the top, the monk will give you a blessing for having reached the top, and take you around a path where you can see for miles and miles all around. Amazing view.

Money for everything...
Shaary [TA], , Prague, Czech Republic

The place is nice, the rock monastery is interesting, but be prepared to pay for everything... For entry, for every floor (everywhere stands some money collector), for parking,...

A great experience
janetango [TA], , Timaru newzealand

Really enjoyed our trip to the temple.Beautiful Buddhas and stunning painted ceilings.
Nice to be away from crowds and feel the history.I regret not having purchased some small purchase from the old people selling books etc under the trees near the entrance as it didn't seem so many tourists came here.We had a great tuktuk driver ..a great day out.

Definitely worth a visit
Isabelle... [TA], , Bouffémont, Île-de-France, France

Really beautiful temple. Take a local guide at the entrance, it makes the experience so much more enriching and it is very cheap!

Lovely artwork, beautiful scenery
FreeSpiri... [TA], , Melbourne, Australia

I visited by tuk tuk and the scenery along the way was just beautiful. It was nice to get away from the beach for a bit and look at what else Tangalle has to offer. There's a bit of a climb to the top but it's worth it. Go either in the early morning or late afternoon to beat the heat.

Great trip out from Tangalle
LairyJ9 [TA], , Canberra, Australia

Enjoyed the climb, and the triple blessings my son received. An enjoyable ready for a steep climb and take water.

More empressive then Dambulla caves
Sergius70 [TA], , Volzhsky, Russia

Mulkirigala is more impressive and rich sightseeing then Dambulla. It's still not so commercially over rounded. Tickets for 600 LKR are a pleasant surprise too. The views from the top of the rock are just incredible. Paintings, sculptures and other religious objects even more rich, then in Dambulla. I'd advice to everybody who takes a stay in southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Interesting, well worth a visit and stunning view
Tordan58 [TA], , Malmö, Sweden

The temple is very interesting, the paintings and statues are beautiful but as is often the case a bit poorly presented with ugly lamp bulbs and behind dirty glass. The climb to the top is a must do. Visit in late afternoon to avoid heat.

Down trodden and full of scams artists
l1ttlem1s... [TA], , London

We went to Mulkirigala one afternoon from our hotel in Tangalle. I don't know what I was expecting, a mini Sigiriya perhaps, but I was disappointed. The rock itself and the monkeys that loiter upon it are definitely the highlights. The temples themselves look worse for wear and time has definitely taken its toll. The highest temple on the rock is no more than a shack with a rather odd looking ornament in it. Not worth the hike at all. The toilets at the siteare also revolting and there is nowhere to buy water or drinks, so make sure you stock up before you arrive.
The other thing to watch out for is the people trying to scam you all over the place. We were charged a last minute parking fee for the tuc tuc that our driver seemed amused by, we had about 10 men follow us up the steps offering to be our guide, we paid the "foreigners" price to enter and were expected to donate to every temple on the rock.
If you like monkeys, then this is worth to trip for that alone. But if you are looking to see a monastery in full swing or to see a beautiful temple that has been cared for over many years then go elsewhere!

Good way of spending your afternoon
Maryna N [TA], , Munich, Germany

Beautiful and very authentic buddhist temple easily reached from Tangalle. Without hoards of tourist around, it leaves you feeling calm and in peace. Definitely a nice way of spending some free afternoon time

Hidden temple
Katchik20... [TA], , Prague, Czech Republic

After some days on beach in Tangalle, we decided to visit this rock temple. We have not been in Dambulla, therefore we can't compare.

We go there inthe afternoon by bus. The way took as about 1,5 hour. The bus is stopping everywhere. From the bus stop is easy walk for 15 minutes.
We arrive to temple around 17, we bought tickets for 300 rp, each and enter.

In the first level, there was puja.

In the other floors, we were with 10 tourists. The stairs are realy high. But from the top, it is nice view. The best view is from rock behind the temple. At the top, in the right side, you will see the path way.

A must see temple
Sscorpion... [TA], , Malmesbury, United Kingdom

Huge granite rock which rises out of the surrounding forest. When you arrive its worth hiring a guide to explain the finer points but make sure he speaks good English (or whatever your language is). Take plenty of small change as you are expected to buy lotus flowers as an offering and make donations all the way up to the very top. Its a steep climb so would not suit the unfit.

Ashley B [TA], , Dubai, United Arab Emirates

We were staying at Amanwella and the recommended to visit Mulkirigala. Their description did not compare to actually seeing it! Our tour guide, Ihsan, was knowledgeable about the monastery itself and its history. They warned us there were a lot of steps to climb - take this seriously! There are several levels as you climb up the mountain, each with a manmade cave full with beautiful paintings (the colors are still so vivid) and massive Buddha statues. There is even a chest where an important scroll was discovered that enabled them to decipher some ancient books about the history of Sri Lanka. Once we reached the very top the view was breathtaking! It's impossible to capture on camera. My recommendation is to wear sneakers or sturdy walking shoes and loose flowing clothing as there are hundreds of steps. And worth every one.

0ver 700 steps, but so great that I didn't notice the pain!
smallspen... [TA], , Weston-super-Mare

I found full details of this amazing place in Rough Guide, and it sounded like a cross between Sigiriya and Dambulla. I was a bit sceptical about that, but it actually lived up to the hype! You approach it through a forested area, so it's quite a shock to suddenly see a huge grey rock looming high up way above the trees. It was Sunday, so the first thing I saw was several groups of children dressed in white, at Sunday School classes. This was a beautiful sight, and the children and teachers were happy to be photographed. Then we (myself and friendly tuktuk driver/guide), started up to the first level, and first rock temple. Very impressive, with Buddha images and wonderfully-painted walls and ceilings. More steps, and another level with even more to see, and after that, a third level! Finally to reach the very top, we climbed some incredibly steep tiny steps, more like a stone ladder. Actually we could have gone up by an easier staircase if we'd looked around, but the steep one was quite a thrill! On the very top of the rock there was just a ruined chamber and an enclosed bo tree, but the main interest was the amazing view in all directions. Well worth the climb, even for people not interested in temples! On the way down we were lucky enough to see some grey langurs, and then a very cheeky toque macaque who seemed to be striking a pose for my photos!

A must see
Jennifer3... [TA], , Singapore, Singapore

Our hotel, Buckingham Place (GO THERE), recommended a day trip here and it was just great - very few tourists, seven caves, lots of steps and amazing artwork. Our guide, Vijay, was just amazing - he was a wealth of information and seemed to really want to educate us on his country. He had previously worked in the office rat race like most of us, and quit his job to live a more peaceful life...the rest of us have gained something from his decision! We climbed, we learned and we paid a small fee to all get a Buddhist blessing. I'll take all the help I can get :-)

It was a great choice and I highly suggest it!

Little Sigirya
Lynne C [TA], , Adelaide, Australia

We decided at the last minute to go to Mulkirigala Rock. It was a delightful afternoon attraction. Having seen Sigirya and Dambulla, it was like a mini me conversion of both. Hiking up the steps, not so many and nice views, and rock paintings.

Buddha lives here !
James W [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Very similar to Dumbulla rock Temple if not better. A mezzanine setting with 360' views of the jungle on top

Beautiful ancient temple
NadjaFabi... [TA], , Stuttgart, Germany

we really liked the temple because it is really authentic and not touristic. Plus you have great view.

just as incredible as Dambulla
edwuppy [TA], , Wuppertal, Germany

What an incredible place this is. And it is situated in such a lovely location. I spent over 3 hours here. And great views to go with it. Go early and have the place all to yourself!!!!!! I rented a moped and drove out there.

Giona83 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Second time visiting and it is always a great place to see. The paintings and the walk around the different rooms are fantastic. The view from the top is breathtaking. Be prepared for a bit of a steep walk up the rock but you will be highly rewarded.

An interesting spiritual side trip from Tangalle
Bruce T [TA], , Bangalore, India

The temple is a climb up some great stairways and the views are good from some vantage points.
Worth a day trip to break up lounging on nearby beaches and eating great food. It is only about a 20 minute ride from Tangalle, but isnt the best example of a temple in Sri Lanka.

Un des plus beau temple du sri lanka
YOhan F [TA], , Geneva, Switzerland

MAGNIFIQUE. je suis sri lankais et ais visité à de nombreuses reprises les temples et site les plus connus du pays. Mais ce temple est une vrai découverte. Il est magnifiquement bien préservé et riche en peintures et bouddha. Le site qui se trouve dans la forêt tropicale est aussi un site super beau. La route entre Mulkirigala et Tangalle vaut aussi le détour. PLusieurs lacs méritent qu'on s'arrêtent.

Beautiful view from the top! The caves with sculptures of Buddha.
Barbara_S... [TA], , Moscow, Pennsylvania

Beautiful view from the top! The caves with sculptures of Buddha. The road from the hotel "Good Karma" is only 20 minutes by tuk-tuk. Very few tourists, but very steep steps in the rock :)

jofierce [TA], , Almeria, Spain

Lots of steps, monkeys, no hassle, take your time, not surrounded by tourists so you don´t need to rush !

RaeleneSh... [TA], , Tangalle, Sri Lanka

This temple is high on a rock which give a stunning view of the Tangalle coast line. Inside it is beautifully fesco painted depicting traditional Buddhist teachings. It truly should not be missed when you are in Tangalle.

Worthwhile side trip from Tangalle
MossyPoin... [TA], , Mossy Point, Australia

We took a tuk tuk through the countryside and villages to the monastery. you can pay for a guide but we just wandered about with our driver. Another guide let us tag along with his group then gave us a quick explanation for a small fee. Lots of steep steps but awesome views.

Great Paintings
maya s [TA], , London, United Kingdom

This is amazing place to visit 8 km away from Tangalle city , all together nearly 400 steps with 3 levels , wWe had a great time !

Well worth a look
sdjohns84 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

One of the highlights of our Sri Lankan trip. Amazing cave temples and the view from the top is well worth the hot walk to the top. Temples are full of beautiful amazing Buddhist hand painted artwork

An interesting outing
DohaWolf [TA], , Doha

A cool monastery built into the hillsides. A unique find on the South Coast. It's work walking up the stairs, but certainly worth the effort.

Peace and Joy!
Mel W [TA], , Peterborough, United Kingdom

Although this would benefit from a tour guide for non-buddhists, the temple is wonderful to visit (400 Rupees each). We arrived to watch the villagers bringing food for the Buddhas and monks and the start of the celebrations of the old year in prep for the new year celebrations on 14th April.

Steep steps make this a difficult visit for those with limited mobility, but otherwise a completely wonderful temple with splendid views.

Sanne H [TA], , Copenhagen, Denmark

This is a very old temple in Tangalle. We went there with the nicest Sri Lankan guide, Saman. Saman told us, that although some tourists comes to see the temple lots of them pass the place. We're glad we stopped. Breathtaking - lots of history - which is painted on the walls, very well peserved paintings dating hundereds of years back. Go to the very top to have a birdseye view of the ricefields below you. If you're looking for a great guide whom is interested in taking you round Sri Lanka and who is keen to tell you about his culture, then contact Saman. E-mail: Next time we're in Sri Lanka we'll be sure to contact him again.

Well worth the visit
SRSingapo... [TA], , Tokyo, Japan

The place is a bit out of the way but was well worth the visit. It took about an hour and a half to climb up and down. It is on 4 levels with large reclining buddha statues centuries old. Great views from the top. Walking shoes recommended!

Off the beaten track and well worth the trip
cloggy_ph... [TA], , East Grinstead, United Kingdom

Took a tuk tuk here. An hour from Tangalle. Fantastic monastry on top of a hill. Very quiet and few tourists. Albino monk took our money and gave us a speach aout the place. Straight out of a movie. Spectacular views from the top, and excellent place for taking photos.

A not to miss gem!
Sami-hank... [TA], , Paris, France

Excellent guide to a truly interesting history - breathtaking views and mischevious monkeys - enjoy!

Nice temple and not overcrowded
miephansn... [TA], , netherlands

The temple is very intresting and there are not to many tourists so you can do it slowly and take your time for the climbing

A gem!
pejayHolm... [TA], , Holmfirth UK

The Rock Monastery has many of the features of Dambulla and Sigyria but there's hardly anyone there. It has different levels and wonderful views from the top. Each of the temples has its own unique qualities and the ancient paintings and statues are wonderful. There are guides available but you don't really need them. If you do decide to use a guide agree a price first (they seem to expect about 5,000 Ruoees which is a bit steep considering the entrance fee is around 200!)

Fabulous rock paintings and views
Borrett [TA], , Ilkley, United Kingdom

Don't miss when you are in the area, It is a smaller version of Sigiria. The caves are amazing and so are the views when you get to the top......make sure you go around the edge to get to the view point which is not marked.

Ok visit when you need a break from the beach
JJC_NL [TA], , Utrecht, Netherlands

Close to Tangalle this makes this worth a visit when you like a break from the beach. Only the second and third level are nice, the fourth level is nothing remarkable.

Makes a nice day trip away from the beach
fifimay [TA], , Brighton, UK

We took a tuk tuk here for 2,000 rupees. It's about 30 minutes from Tangalle through beautiful countryside with paddy fields, water buffalo & their egrets. The museum just before the entrance has some interesting artefacts and we were given a white Buddha protection thread around our right wrists and prayed over for 300 rupees. The entrance fee up to the Rock Monastery is 200 per person & the steps are really not as steep as our reviewers have made out. If you wear sensible shoes (be prepared to take them off at each cave) you will have no problems. The artwork is beautiful & if you are a fan of reclining Buddha's you will enjoy this. If you like monkeys, look out for them hanging around the steps just before the last section.

AngelaCB9... [TA], , Elgin, United Kingdom

Approximately 550 steps which we managed well,however some flights of steps were very steep and may be difficult for others. The views from the top of the rock were stunning but the little Buddhist shrines here were only mediocre. The shrines within the caves with reclining Buddhas were well worth a visit

not for the vertiginous.
neesi [TA], , london

The Temple on the Rock is a 30 min tuck tuck ride from Tangalle. It's awesome in the true sense of the world but very very steep and very very high. If you've been slopping around in flip flops, take your trainers.

levely temples, very quiet
Charlie19... [TA], , Bruges, Belgium

lovely new pathway leading to the entrance, lovely paintings and reclining Buddhas, stunning setting on a huge rock. Very relaxed and hassle free, even on a sunday.

Wonderful - Tea time best time to go
DeeS13_13 [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Didn't expect such a beautiful place. We went at the end of the day just as they were closing. We were fortunate to meet a great guide who took us to parts of the monastery we would not have seen and managed to keep rooms open for us. It felt like a private view. Around the back at the top of the rock is the most spectacular view and we happened to be there just as the sun was setting - truly wonderful experience.

Dambulla without the crowds
cammerayg... [TA], , Cammeray, NSW, Australia

I rate this rock temple more interesting than Dambulla - partly because it isn't crowded out with tourists. There seems to be a lot of money being spent on infrastructure near to the temple, so it is disappointing that many of the temples have been left in need of basic maintenance to stop water damage.

The caves contain a mixture of 17th, 18th, and 19th century artwork styles. It is interesting to compare and contrast them.

The climb to the final level is a challenge... try going up one way and back the other! When I got to the top there was not much of a view because of the height of the trees and the haze. This is another view point where it would have been better to get there in the early morning.

Note that as long as you take off your shoes before entering each temple you do not have to leave them by the ticket counter. Climbing up the final wet steps without shoes could be quite dangerous.

Mulkirigala Rock Monastery
Tyrone907 [TA], , Bendigo, Australia

We had a great guide who was very informative, really beautiful, very colourful, amazing and great views over Tangalle area from the top.

ennio36 [TA], , Rome, Italy

It is really worth climbing up 700 steps to see all the temples,they are simply stunning and quite well preserved, the frescos are very interesting and the huge statues of Buddha so impressive..In the third temple you can see the old chest where Mahavamsa was discovered.Go up to the fourth terrace as well, the view is magnificient

Luwis M [TA], , Western Ireland, Ireland

A great, fantastic rock temple. Peaceful and no more tourists. Excellent views so take your camera. Well worth a visit with a good English speaking guide.

Most interesting
EdwardLow... [TA], , Lingfield, United Kingdom

A lot of steps, and not much at the top when you get there, but well worth doing. Take the time to go into the various rooms half way up. Marvellous statuary

Amazing Rock temples
Kathryn U [TA], , Swansea, United Kingdom

Incredibly well preserved rock temples - a bit of a climb but worth it. Also worth paying for a guide - check language good enough first!

Quiet temple, lots of Buddhas
Puzzpoudi... [TA], , Montreal

A great temple to visit while you are in Tangalle, peaceful and interesting, not many tourists.

A rock monastry
ChamindaS [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Don't advice to visit on public holidays. Now they have started improving facilities there.

Amanda K [TA], , Durham, United Kingdom

Brilliant and if you make it all the way up, climb over the wall onto the rocks and the views are fantastic so take a camera.

WoW ! Excellent
maria k [TA], , Berlin, Germany

Actually i like this old temple . because it is hermitage . around the temple have a village . more green trees .. nice windy . you can meet vilagian people .

best view temple
rohitha r [TA], , tangalle

very nice way to go there.some time monkeys arround,very peacefull place.

Five Senses
BobB3 [TA], , Rome, Italy

I think the significance of this place could easily be overlooked. Fortunately, I didn't send the young man away who suddenly appeared and offered to guide me through the site. I would have enjoyed looking at the paintings on the walls and ceilings, the magnificent views out over the palm forrests and the climb to the top, but this very well-informed guy walked me through the history of the place and pointed out so many interesting stories depicted in the wall paintings. In one series, the five senses (sight, sound, etc.) was beautifully depicted in a style unique in all of Sri Lanka.
One of the things I liked most about this beautiful place was the sense of solitude. I was the only visitor to the place at the time, and when my guide friend and I reached the top of the rock, it was so special to be able to have the stunning view all to myself.
Although I had visited both Sigirya and Dambulla, and it is true that Mulkirigala is something of a mix between those two much better known sites, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this historically significant and very beautiful place.

Lots of steps
WalthamWa... [TA], , Grimsby, United Kingdom

A good walk to the monastery from the car park and a lot of steps to climb, but worth the effort.

Nice views
IdiotsAbr... [TA], , Calgary, Canada

My husband and I rented a motorbike to drive to the rock temple. We honestly enjoyed the drive through the country side better than the rock temple itself. We already went to Dambulla so we found it was pretty similar but not as nice. Would recommend if you are not planning on going to Dambulla. Also your knees and shoulders need to be covered or you will have rent 2 sarongs for about 100 rupees each.

A quiet and nice place
smilygirl... [TA], , Versailles, France

A nice place : the temple is on 3 floors, a lot of steps but it worths it and you can take your time.
The 3 rooms of the temples are beautiful, the view is awesome, and when you arrive on the top, you are proud to discover a quiet place.
This temple also permits to see monkeys on the last floor.
Before finishing the visit of the temple, you can meet monks near from the exit because there is a Bouddhist school, very interesting, they are very nice.

The price is nothing, 200 rupees, and nice staff with a lot of advices.
You can ask a guide if you want.
It closed at nearly 6pm.
Go there with a car or a tuc-tuc, closed from Tangalle (15 min).

Enchanting and almost tourist-free
Simon W [TA], , Guildford, United Kingdom

We had an excellent guide - very informative and knowledgeable but the temples carved into the rock were just mind blowing and the views over the countryside after 533 steps up were beautiful. Very inexpensive and a real insight into centuries-old culture and religion.

SIN T [TA], , Singapore

Good sunset. Stunning. Learnt about the hindu and buddhist religion.

Beautiful, Spiritful, and a sense of civilisation
worldwolf [TA], , London, United Kingdom

We started our journey to Mulkirigala in the late afternoon, leaving bustling Tangalla behind we headed inland across some questionable roads, although to be fair there is huge road improvement in this area so it's just going to get better. The sights of rice fields with endless amounts of storks and buffalo, you get a great sense of real Sri lankan life. As we arrived a flurry of woman surrounded out Tuk-Tuk selling us beautiful flower arrangements as offerings for Lord Buddah. There were snacks and fresh hot tea on offer. The sun beginning to set so we hurried up the many steps to the three levels. Due to the time of day we could only visit the first level and the top level. Both of which offer various statues, paintings and incredible views of the area. Its a bit of a climb so to avoid a rush arrive by 3pm to really do it gracefully. I have to say we may have missed the second level caves but we saw a sunset at the top I will never forget. Its incredible. Have a hot cup of ginger tea once your back down and prepare yourself for a nail biting tuk-tuk ride as dusk turns to dark and the Sri Lankan bus service scares all.

Great place to visit, and get Vijay to guide you!
Claire B [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Really recommend going to visit this temple... it's steep but you can rest between levels! We had Vijay guide us and he was great - a real character, and he was invaluable in explaining to us what we were seeing.

Amazing little visited temple near Tangalla
Frenchfro... [TA], , Vevey, Switzerland

We visited this temple en route from Tangalla to Mirissa and this was the best temple experience of our Sri Lankan adventure. Temple is carved into the rock mountain on 6 or 7 different levels, it takes 500+ steps to go to the final level. The paintings and the 5 different lying buddhas are marvelous. For once was used a local guide, Vijay, he made our experience very enriching. There are very few travelers or tourists visiting this place, so make it a top priority when you are in Tangalla, you will love it!

Stunning location
wildswimm... [TA], , London

Worth a visit, but if you take a guide fix the price first!

interesting and no tourist!
bracbull [TA], , milano

the place is interesting, no touristic at all. The best temple is the one with the buddha dying, with all the statues, ask to open the windows that protect the statues. They are very nice and they will.
The way to the top is long made of something like 700 steps, so keep your shoes with you, you do not need to leave them at the first temple.
And remember to have a sarong with you in case you wear shorts. Big family of monkeys. A nice monastery at the bottom with child monks, curious and very nice.
altogether a very pleasant place

beautiful scenery
lailagr [TA], , athens

a little Sigirya here, worth visiting on an afternoon, great tuktuk ride...

go go there
anne g [TA], , Sicily, Italy

i went there by bus . very nice temple .. i like tell to you go go go there

good to see
aduska_12... [TA], , Liberec, Czech Republic

make sure you don´t take your shoes off right at the car park .. like all the others, you can comfortably wear your shoes all around, only if you enter any of the temples, you must take them off

Wildlifew... [TA], , Hampshire

Gosh, this was impressive. The guide spoke excellent English and gave us just the right amount of detail. He was prepared to answer questions if we wanted more information.

The paintings were lovely. I liked the ones that had not been restored 300 years ago most, but they were all excellent. The reclining Buda’s are impressively.

Perhaps the most surprising thing, is that when we arrived at 4pm we were the first tourists visiting that day. It is very atmospheric and being there on your own with the guide adds to that. It is hard to imagine that such an ancient monument is so far off the tourist trail. If you only visit one Buddhist site in Sri Lanka, I would recommend it is this one.

Peaceful rock monastery
phiroc [TA], , Belgium

Rock monastery close to Tangalle. A bit similar to Dambulla's caves, although on a smaller scale, but without the tourists and the kitsch temple. Nice view on the nearby fields and palm forest.

Beautiful sleeping Buddha's & Paintings
worldtour... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Breath taking views, worth the walk to the top, lots of old wall paintings

Sheila L [TA], , Frome, United Kingdom

Beautiful paintings in the cave. Quite a steep climb up so you need to be prepared for this - great views from the top. You can get there by two buses plus a short walk (or a tuk tuk or taxi!)

550 steps not as bad as you might think
sparkythi... [TA], , London, United Kingdom

The monastery is hidden well away from the main tourist track but definitely worth a detour inland to visit it. We arrived and a guide joined us for the walk to the top. The guide was worth it to get a bit more the visit.
It has 4 levels and the 550 steps were split up into manageable sections. The final section of steps are steep and the parallel steps cut into the rock are actually an easier route. The views from top are as far as Yala.
It was good to learn a bit of history from this area and we were glad we made the trip.

Nice not touristy place.
irinaia [TA], , Ukraine

Mulgirigala is a rock monastery dated back to 2nd century B.C. There are few levels, to get to the highest one you will have to climbe 533 steps up the hill. The place is like a little prototype of Sigiriya, but with no tourists!!! The entrance fee is 200 Rupees per person. There are lots of monkeys on the first terrace. All in all a good place to visit if you are staying in Tangalle or in hambantota district.

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