The Sigiriya rock, perhaps, is the mascot of Sri Lanka. It is a UNESCO heritage site, and certainly, one of the most visited in Sri Lanka. You see its photographs everywhere in the country, starting from the immigration section of the airport.
We had scheduled our Sigiriya tour for the afternoon. After an enriching tour of the Polonnaruwa Ruins (Read: Polonnaruwa Ruins Tour) in the morning, and after lunch at one of the many restaurants on the way, we headed for the ancient Sigiriya city. Driving past extremely dense woods and on and off rains, we reached Sigiriya by 3 in the afternoon. That’s good timing, said our guide, Shushanta.
The ancient citadel of Sigiriya is located atop a massive rock some 200 meters high. The ground below starts with a moat built for the protection of the royal citadel, and opens into a sprawling, layered garden where we found a deer grazing in the woods at the far end. Green, and line with stairs at every interval, the walk up to the foot of the rock from the main gate can take a good 30 min depending upon your speed and your desire to stop by at everything beautiful you see around you…
Well, the most beautiful is actually in front of you – the overwhelming rock itself. A flight of stairs, numbering about 1200, take you all the way to the top. Somewhere halfway, you stop by a wall with beautiful hand-painted frescos that are very similar to the ones we have in the Ajanta Caves in India. And then there is the Mirror Wall too, an extremely polished wall with religious verses inscribed in it.
You climb yet more stairs to reach a little clearing that is famous for the gate that has the lion’s feet on either side. Try to beat the crowd at the stairs to take a good photo of the place…we managed to, some bit. By now, you are on the final leg of the stair climbing…a few more, and you reach the top of the rock. The view below is striking. On a clear day, you can see the faraway hills. We got strong winds and fog…that was beautiful too in its own way.
Coming down doesn’t take time…but mind your knees as you hurry down…
Tips for the Sigiriya Tour:
- Tickets are sold at a counter right at the entrance..
- Unlike Anuradhapura (Read: Anuradhapura Tour) and Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya is not a religious site. This means, no dress code.
- Wear good walking shoes. Told you about the 1200 stairs you will need to conquer to reach the top!
- The ruins are rich in history. Hence, strongly recommend you to avail the services of a guide.
- Carry snacks and enough water. The day we went to Sigiriya, it was drizzling off and on. And so, were saved by the wrath of the sun. Needless to mention, on sunny days, it will be very hot. Hence, wear enough sunscreen….and carry umbrellas, be it for the sun or the rains…
- Double-check with your little one if he/she can make it to the top. Ours was super excited, took the umbrella as her walking stick and led us up!
P.S: For a complete Sri Lanka itinerary and tour details, read — Best Itinerary & Blogs for Sri Lanka Road Trip