Sigiriya lion rock so-called as lion’s rock probably be the most visited tourist place in Sri Lanka. Located in the heart of the island between the town of Dambulla and Habarana . The vertical walls soar to a flat topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilization, the only mountain with a flat top summit in sigiriya surrounded by whole jungles.
At the height of 350 meter above the ground level, Flat summit will show us the archeological history of this palace. The rock is actually a hardened magma plug from of an extinct volcano. Declared as world heritage site in 1981 by UNESCO
Since the 3rd Century this rocky plateau served as a monastery. Between 5th and 6th century king kassapa who was ruling Anuradhapura before, relocated the royal seat to sigiriya, because the king was afraid of losing his throne, so he decided to build a royal palace at the top of this rock, where he actually felt safe to rule at the top of 35m above. The Sigiriya lion rock was designed in the form of huge lion Stone, whose only feet (lions paws) have survived upto today, but the upper part of the body were destroyed, because of this palace structure this place was named as sigiriya. The name sigiriya originate from the word ‘’SINHAGIRI‘’ which mean lion’s rock.
After the Death of the king, sigiriya rock again becomes as monastery until 14th century
Climbing on the rock isn’t difficult as looks like 1200 steps one way which start from the royal garden Up to summit at top which hardly took 45 minute one way to reach on top. Climbing this rock can be divided in 2 parts, First From the royal garden to Lion paws. on the mid way you will cover the frescos (Ancient paintings on the walls) and mirror wall which shown us the rich history of this site, visitors from hundreds of years ago wrote their experience on it, although you are not allowed to touch this wall. Once you passed from the mirror wall, you will see two big lion paws . Second half of climb starts from Lion paws to the summit, You need to be careful while heading on the summit as stairs are very narrow, while climbing you will see the surrounded beautiful jungles & pidurangala rock. You Completely need 3 to 4 hours to visit this heritage site, best time to visit on this rock is in the morning or in the evening ,Try to avoid visiting the rock in afternoon as the temperature goes very high.
While climbing the Rock, Keep the water Bottle with you.
Everything You Need to Know about this world Heritage site
- ENTRANCE FEES
Entrance ticket for this world heritage site is much more than it’s worth. Foreign nation people have to pay USD 30 per person (Approx. LKR 5300) & USD 15 for the Children, Ticket price reduce to half if you are from SAARC Nation. As an Indian national I only ask to pay half the amount which is USD 15 (LKR 2655), which is obviously gave me good reason to visit that place.
Maybe this is the reason mostly backpackers avoid climbing this site. Instead they visit the Pidurangala rock where visitors only need to pay LKR 500 (USD 3) per person. Sigiriya Rock is definitely a highly recommended site to visit but paying 30 Dollars for this rock is more than its worth.
The Garden of the sigiriya Lion rock is a beautiful landscape with the water fountains & Royal garden, audience hall, which was once home of many Buddhist monks, its a beautiful place to explore before climbing on the rock.
- ROYAL GARDEN
Once you enter in premises from the western gate, the straight symmetrical way will lead you to sigiriya rock. you will passes from the water garden, which used to be fountains which installed by the king to make this area more beautiful, A series of steps continues up through royal garden which used to be very beautiful during the king kassapa term. but now it’s all dry, only the basic structure are left, this place is amazing to see how people from 5th century are so creative to design all these without any technology.
Frescos are sort of ancient paintings which were designed hundreds of years ago, as per local people there were used to be thousands but only around 20’s left now, you can see some of really big frescos inside the museum, rest are place on the rock as usual, which you can see climbing almost half way up, But make sure don’t take the photos of the frescos which is prohibited
- MIRROR WALL
Once you passed from the fresco, you will notice Dark, dirty mirror wall on your left side which used to write about the rock by the people who visit, people from all over the world visited this rock, Their views / Feedback are written on this wall, these all are in different languages so you have no idea what is written there, although you are not allowed to touch this wall.
- LION PAWS
Almost halfway towards the top, you will see the two big lion paws, stairs going upto the summit from the middle of this two paws. As per locals & officials, there were used to be lion face above the paws, but the upper portion of the lion were destroyed. Because of this lions structure, this palace was named as sigiriya. The name sigiriya originate form the sighala word “SINHAGIRI” which means lion rock.
Above the 350 meters from the royal garden, the king decided to rule from the top of the rock, which is so called known as Summit. This spectacular summit of the rock cover almost 1.6 hectares, there were used to be the king throne, palace complex, But today only the foundation of these structures exist and the remains are usually unimpressive .
A small stone slab known as king throne, possibly a meditation spot, just few steps along the summit on the east sides, there are some water tanks , which used as water conservation.
- SIGIRIYA MUSUEM
To understand more about this site, sigiriya museum is must visited place. Even I recommend you to visit the museum even before climbing rock. its located on the 1st & 2nd floor of the ticket counter, visiting the museum first will make you better understand more about this heritage site.
All the rock statues taken out by the archaeologist are well placed inside here. jewelries, weapons made of stones, mud made utensils of ancients civilization are here, Although you are not allowed to take photos inside mostly parts of the museum.
ADVISE FOR VISITORS BEFORE CLIMBING THIS ROCK.
- Visitors are allowed to visit the sigiriya Heritage site only from 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM
- After 07:00 PM visitors are prohibited from remaining within the area.
- Please do not use plastic/ Polythene in sigiriya,which is both an archaeological reserve and an environmental sanctuary, Please put all waste items /Garbage into the bins provided.
- Harming, Removing, carrying away, Despoiling and writing on monuments or archaeological sites are strictly prohibited.
- Do not walk on the brick wall, monuments etc.
- Do not feed food to animals (Specially Monkeys)
- Keep good amount of water with you, you can Buy from the sigiriya canteen just opposite of the western entrance gate.
HOW TO REACH
Sigiriya Lion rock is located in the middle of Dambulla town and Habarana
Dambulla is the major bus stop for reaching sigiriya & widely connected with the bus throughout the country
From Colombo fort bus station buses going towards Polonnaruwa, Kurunagela, Dambulla and Habarana leaves in Every 30 minutes.
once you reach Dambulla Bus stand, you will find the shuttle bus service run in every 30 Minutes from Dambulla to Sigiriya Bus stand.
WHERE TO STAY
Sigiriya is a small village as all the hostels are mostly Family Run guesthouse, I Stayed in One more night Hostel which has got the best review in the village for 7 USD per night Included Breakfast & my experience was equally amazing as the Host ‘ DIL ’ is equally an amazing person. He himself serves local Lanka’s Delicious breakfast, Rest you can check on Booking.com for the best hostel options.
WHAT OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SIGIRIYA VILLAGE
Another popular option in sigiriya is to trek on Pidurangala Rock which is equivalent amazing and show you the best view of Lion rock from the Pidurangala Summit.
click here to see more about Pidurangala Rock