Sigiriya- Rock Fortress- Sri Lanka

Why is it important to visit?

First of all, let’s discuss why it is important to visit this place, Sigiriya. I mean there are so many other places on the planet of earth. Why Sigiriya?

I’m glad you asked. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress. To cut you to the chase Sigiriya at present is a World Heritage Site as listed by UN, in 1982. It is one of the 8th wonders of the world. Sigiriya is one of the best sites in the world that represents ancient urban planning.

Lion's Paws and Entrence Stairs in Sigiriya
Lion’s Paws and Entrance Stairs in Sigiriya

Frescoes

Perhaps the most important feature of Sigiriya is Frescoes. Sigiriya has a wall to the west which said to might have covered with frescoes done during the time of King Kasyapa. But today only 8 frescoes have survived. There are so many interpretations as to what these paintings mean. Some say these pictures of nude women are a representation of wives of the king Kasyapa who ruled at the time. Some hold a different interpretation saying these are priestess performing some kind of a religious or cultural ritual. Either way, these women have a huge impact on Sri Lanka’s culture based art forms such as songs. Sigiri frescoes are considered as icons of female beauty within Sri Lankan culture.

Sigiriya Frescoes are exquisite 1600 year old paintings of the beautiful women
Sigiriya Frescoes are exquisite 1600-year-old paintings of the beautiful women

The Mirror Wall

Another most significant features of Sigiriya-Sri Lanka is its Mirror Wall. It is said that the King had the wall polished very toughly so that he could see his own reflection in it. Later it was opened for visitors to express their feelings and creativity. There are poems and inscriptions on the wall written by these anonymous visitors. The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century. Although keep in mind, that today painting or writing on the mirror wall is strictly prohibited. 😉

Translated inscriptions on the wall are proof that Sigiriya was a tourists’ destination since long time ago.

The Gardens

Sigiriya is also famous for its water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens which are located in the west part of the rock. The building and gardens of Sigiriya show the amazing technology and the knowledge of the ancient architectures and engineers who lived at the time. The most intriguing thing about these gardens is its complex hydraulic system which has amazed engineers and laymen throughout the world. The hydraulic system consists of canals, locks, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, as well as surface and underground water pumps.

The best explanation for the function of the system now is that, in the rainy season, all channels are filled with water. Then water is being circulated throughout the gardens of Sigiriya. Also fountains of Sigiriya built in the fifth century, perhaps, are the oldest in the world.

Location

The northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. Sigiriya plateau is 370 meters above the sea level.

Fun Facts

-Sigiriya rock plateau is formed from the magma of an extinct volcano.

-Sigiriya is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles.

-The surrounding territories of Sigiriya were inhabited for several thousand years.

-fountains of Sigiriya built in the V century, perhaps, are the oldest in the world.

-The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

Lion's Paws and Entrence Stairs in Sigiriya
Lion’s Paws and Entrance Stairs in Sigiriya

Prices

Prices could vary from the time this article is written. But shouldn’t be a drastic change. I’m just going to include prices for other close areas to Sigiriya which are worth paying a visit. Also, remember that these are approximate prices.

Dambulla – USD 10

Sigiriya – USD 30

You’d probably have Sri Lankan Rupees with you. Which I recommend too. Prices are approximate,

Dambulla Cave Temple – LKR 1,500

Sigiriya – LKR 3,900

Polonnaruwa – LKR 2,875

Opening Hours

Monday           7AM–6PM

Tuesday           7AM–6PM

Wednesday     7AM–6PM

Thursday         7AM–6PM

Friday                7AM–6PM

Saturday          7AM–6PM

Sunday          7AM–6PM

Although these are not very strict I would recommend start climbing the rock before 9.00 am as it can get really hot during the day. Need I remember you are climbing a rock. So this should make sense right?

Alternation would be to start climbing Sigiriya after 3.00pm (15:00h) for the same reason mentioned earlier. Most people aim to start their climb around 8.00 a.m. Better if you can even earlier. Early bird benefits. 😉 Also let me remind you again that it is highly likely that the temperature and the intensity of sun will be high either way depending on the weather of the day. So I would recommend carrying enough water and also go light as possible.

Most people tend to spend around 1.5 hours at the top of the rock sigh seeing. So altogether I would say generally it would take around 2 to 3.5 hours to climb up and down Sigiriya Rock Fortress depending on your fitness levels and other criteria.

SO if you start your climb at 7.00 am in the morning you can be back at the bottom by 10.00 am. If you prefer the evening slot and start climbing around 3.0 pm in the evening you could climb down by 6.00 pm. These two times are recommended for you own wellbeing. :D. Remember the top of Sigiriya rock is opened to direct sun light and has almost no shade at the top. You wouldn’t want to get sun burned. Would you?

Hotels and resorts

Most tourist prefer to explore Sigiriya with an overnight stay in the area. This is hardly a problem as the area is famous for tourism. For this reason there are no shortage of hotels and hostels for all price ranges. You can also enjoy the wild life of the area while at your stay. Elephant ride are one of the famous and a fun way to spend some extra time at hand. And it could be once in a life time experience without a doubt. Sigiriya and Habarana are famous for Elephant rides. Hotel pools could help you out with the heat effect as well.

You can check out these hotels and spas in the area. But remember that I’m just mentioning the information impartially here. This no way an advertisement nor a recommendation. Just trying to give you lead. 😀

Where to next?

Most people who visit Sri Lanka do Sigiriya and Dambulla together. You can easily cover Dambulla Cave Temple in 1.5 to 2 hours.  So I would recommend doing that before you head back to hotel room.

Okay. So hopefully this will help you all, I mean that was the whole point. And don’t forget to leave a comment. 🙂

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