Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya is one of our favourite places to visit in Sri Lanka, with it being our second visit, and we are sure to visit again in the near future.
Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress, built by King Kasyapa. Part way up the rock are the lions paws, and the mirror wall with frescos. When the king died the palace was abandoned, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the top of the rock, is the upper palace with cisterns built into the rock and the main palace. At midlevel on the rock are the lions paws and the mirror wall which was once polished enough that the king could see his reflection. The lower palace is behind the lower gardens. The site was both a palace and a fortress.
Cost: Rs 3500
The start of Sigiriya climb is the walk through the flat green palace gardens, before reaching the first set of steps. Steps are common throughout the climb to the summit, and climbing the many steps can be tiresome. What we love about the climb, is that we could take it at our own pace, but also there are platforms to stop and take in the lovely views as you climb higher and higher. Our favourite parts of Sigiriya has to be the frescos on the wall, the lion paws and then the ruins left at the top of the rock. The frescos on the wall are so bright in the red and orange colour, and are amazing to witness. We couldn’t see our reflection in the mirror wall, which the king is reported to have shined up so much that he could see his reflection. The Lion paws are on a second highest platform and look so realistic and splendid, take the time for a rest, and take in the views before the last hike to the top. The last little section always seems the hardest but well worth the climb, the ruins at the top gives the idea of how lavish the palace must have been thousands of years ago, but those views across the plains of Sri Lanka are breath-taking. Words cannot describe how amazing a feeling and an achievement it has been to climb such a rock and one we will do again and again.
Some of these tips below may seem obvious but many people will neglect to bring most of these when climbing Sigiriya, and some tips here you may not have thought of, so here are some of our tips to bear in mind:
The coolest time to climb the rock is early morning or late afternoon, and will be the best time to climb. The temperatures in Sigiriya can get over 30 degrees Celsius most days, and it isn’t practical to be climbing in the rock in sweltering heat.
The most obvious one here is drinking plenty of water, dehydration can be serious and there isn’t much around the Sigiriya area so falling sick at the top of the rock is not ideal and can be life threatening. We have purchased a camelback with a water pouch of 2 litres, this should be plenty of water for the climb, but if you don’t have one of these, then a bag which holds a couple of bottles of water will be sufficient. We purchased our camelback from Amazon for a reasonable amount and rely heavily on this, for more information on purchasing a camelback, then check out the following link.
To protect your face and head from the sun, wear a hat, this can prevent sun burn, taking the sun from the face and sun stroke. As the sun rays are very strong in Sri Lanka, even when cloudy always apply sun screen to prevent burning.
The first thing that is noticeable when climbing the rock is the monkeys that hang around near the lion’s paw. They are known for stealing property that are left unattended or can take things from your person such as sun glasses if rested on the top of your head. It is always a good idea never to leave your belongs unattended anyway. They are not pets, and can bite so it isn’t a good idea to try and pet one. We have seen many tourists approaching them and feeding them or petting them, this just encourages them more. Monkeys are also known to carry rabies, so if bitten by one, then seek medical attention immediately especially if you haven’t had the rabies jab.
There are signs to advise of wasps on Sigiriya, so keep an eye out for them and do not make them angry as they will sting.
Take time with climbing the rock, there isn’t any rush. When we climbed the rock the first time, it was quite tiring, second time was much easier, but we have seen people of all ages climbing. On our second visit, we were about to head down from the top, when an elderly man was climbing to the top, he stumbled and a couple of people had to help him to the top.
The steps from the Lion paws up to the top are the most uneven, as the steps are built into the uneven rock. There are railings to hold onto and would suggest watching were you are placing your feet as you climb. This part of the climb can also be the most scariest for people who are scared of heights.
Public transport is limited to Sigiriya, as it is located in an isolated location. We hired a van to take us to Sigiriya from our hotel, but here are some other means of transport.
There are public buses that run to Dambulla, and you will need to either take a tuk tuk, or taxi to Sigiriya. This is a cheap mode of transport, but a tuk tuk can be more of an expense on top.
Hiring a car and driving to Sigiriya is a great option as there is a car park at Sigiriya Rock, alternatively if you don’t like the idea of driving then hiring a van or car and driver to take you is another option. This isn’t the cheapest method of transport but is the most advisable option. We hired a van to take five of us to Sigiriya.
Places to stay
There are a number of budget friendly or expensive places to stay in Sigiriya. We stayed in Hotel Sigiriya which is expensive but very close to the rock, and with great views of Sigiriya from the pool. The room was of good size, clean and tidy and would recommend staying here when visiting Sigiriya.
Places to eat
There are a few local cafes and restaurants in Sigiriya village, but there are no cafes or restaurants at the rock. At your accommodation is the best place to get any food and drinks.
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