Kudimbigala is a rocky outcrop that emerges from the jungle. From certain vantage points (it helps to have a guide for this), the rock looks like a reclining Buddha.
Around the rock is a forest hermitage, with around 200 shrines, hermits lodgings and caves, where a small group of Buddhist monks still reside. It has a magical atmosphere.
But, as with any pilgrimage, the journey to Kudimbigala is as important as the destination. The rock is about 30 km (one hour) south of Arugam Bay; roughly one third is on a covered road, while the last two thirds are on a potholed track. Elephants roam wild and free here, so you might have to duck into the jungle cover en route. It’s therefore advisable to travel with a knowledgeable rickshaw driver with good tales to tell and expert elephant navigation systems; Hideaway in Arugam Bay can offer advice and recommendations.
After the rickshaw journey, a short but steep jungle ramble will bring you to the top of Kudimbigala, where you may be rewarded with a glimpse of a Buddhist monk meditating. Making a pre-dawn pilgrimage and reaching the summit for a multi-coloured sunrise above the forest canopy is one of the highlights of the area. On the way down you can explore parts of the hermitage and then stop off at Okanda Sri Murigan Kotvil for breakfast and a swim, if the crashing waves permit.