Sri Lanka’s most dramatic landscape, visitors are awestruck by the imposing presence of Sigiriya’s Lion Mountain rising from the central plains. This enigmatic formation, thought to be the impregnable palace and fortress of King Kasyapa (448 AD), raises vertically from the ground and culminates in a flat top that contains the ruins of his ancient civilisation. Sigiriya was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, and many believe it should be considered among the Wonders of the World.
Sigiriya is not a sacred site, but an archaeological site. The rock itself can be reached through a series of steep staircases which can prove a bit of challenge, but totally worth it once you reach the summit and get to explore the ruins and take in the amazing views. Visitors set on reaching the summit of the rock tend to do so in the morning to avoid the unrelenting heat.
The good news for those not quite enticed by the prospects of intense exercise is that the gardens at the base of the rock, and the views from a distance, are just as appealing as the climb itself.
The magnificent Royal Gardens at the base of Sigiriya rock are simply stunning, and will give you a chance to walk along the water features and boulders that were once Buddhist shrines.
On the way up to the rock’s summit, a series of frescoes painted on the rock will surely capture your attention. The wasp-waisted women in particular is popularly associated either with a deity, or King Kasyapa’s concubines. Although other interpretations link the enigmatic figures with figures in Tantric Buddhism.
Beyond the painting, you’ll find the famed wall covered in graffiti dating back to the 6th century. Visitors between the 6th and 14th century were invited to stamp their impression on the frescoes. The practice stopped there, so modern visitors are not allowed to add their own accounts. The graffiti not only ads appeal and interest to Sigiriya rock, but it is also of great importance to modern linguists and academics as it shows the evolution of the Sinhala language.
Then you’ll come across the renowned lion paws unearthed by British archaeologist HCP Bell during his excavations in 1898. These are the enormous fragments of the 5th century Lion statue that gives Sigiriya its name (Sigiriya means Lion Rock).
The summit of Sigiriya rock is were King Kasyapa’s fortification was built, although only the foundations survived the test of time. Even so, the views from the top of the rock are nothing short of stunning.
Travelisto’s Discover Sri Lanka Tour takes you on day one from Colombo to Sigiriya. If you’d like to learn more about this amazing place, plan ahead of your trip, book the Discover Sri Lanka Tour, or start planning your own tailor-made experience with the help of our travel experts, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help you craft the perfect holiday in Sri Lanka based on your personal likes and dislikes, time, and budget.
We know Sri Lanka from personal experience and have done ourselves most of the activities we recommend here. If you’d like more information, tips and advice, and help planning and booking your holiday in Sri Lanka, feel free to get in touch by chat, phone, videoconference, or email. We are always here to help.
Travel Designer and Founder at Travelisto
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