If you are visiting Sri Lanka (which I recommend you do!) and enjoy hiking, climbing untouched peaks and having your breath taken away, you’re in luck. Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful, unexplored summits that can be conquered and a must see summit is the flat, book shaped Bible Rock (Bathalegala). Bible Rock, which is 670m (2200 feet) in height, is clearly visible on the Colombo-Kandy Road and Train line near the Kadugannawa viewing point. Due to its prominent flat top surface, it resembles the more famous Sigiriya citadel located more north of it (At one point even I used to believe it was Sigiriya!)
How to get there:
Colombo- Bible Rock: Take the Colombo-Kandy Bus (No.01) from the Fort bus stand. Get down at Mawanella. From Mawanella, take the bus to Aranayaka and get down at Gewilipitiya town, and take a three wheeler to Hathgampala. There will be a road saying 2.5Km to the rock, and you can travel in the three wheeler for up to 1.7 Km which should cost you LKR 300. From here on it is a steep 800m climb, so make sure you have a your water bottles filled. The total journey up to the summit should take 5-6 hours.
Travel destinations Pro tip: Leave Colombo in the early hours of the morning (5.30am-6.00am would be ideal) which would make it easier to climb the rock before the sun has come out. You could also, take the Colombo-Kandy train and get down at Rambukkana or Polgahawela stations, and take a bus from there to Mawanella.
Climbing the rock:
Bathalegala is quite an easy climb, even for a beginner hiker. All you need is determination, dedication, good shoes and bottles of water and you should be all set! The hike begins by walking through a forested, dense area which is sheltered by trees which have steps. After the steps finished, you have to trek up the rock, with steps carved into the rock. To aid you, there is a small railing but it is flimsy and could break anytime so you need to be very careful. The last bit of the footpath was not so tough, and you’ve made it to the top! The 360 degree view is spectacular, and you can see paddy fields, the town of the Gampola and Kadugannawa, as well as the Ura Kanda Mountain and the Ahu Pini Ella Waterfall. Also, be ready for strong winds, which are powerful enough to blow you away (literally!). The view is simply breath taking and it makes you feel like you are on top of the world. There is, also, a small Stupa (Temple) and caves on the top.
Travel Destination Caution Tip: Try to avoid Batalegala Rock during the rainy season, even if there is slight rain as lightning strikes Batalegala very frequently. Statistics state that at one point, lightning has stricken the rock 16 times in a day and the North side of the rock has been damaged due to lightning. So during rain, DO NOT CLIMB!
To conclude, climbing Bathalegala is a great experience. It is scenic, breezy, gorgeous and worth all the sweat, mud and torn jeans. Always remember, however, is if you take any snacks and drinks to the summit, don’t leave the packets and cartons lying around. Save the environment and protect Bathalegala for the future generations.