THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO SIGIRIYA ROCK, SRI LANKA

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Pidurangala rock timmy handa
Lion Rock View from the Top of Pidurangala Rock

Sigiriya rock so-called 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 meters above the ground level, the Flat summit will show us the archeological history of this palace. The rock is actually a hardened magma plug from an extinct volcano. Declared as a world heritage site in 1981 by UNESCO

Since the 3rd Century, this rocky plateau served as a monastery. Between the 5th and 6th centuries 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 a huge lion Stone, whose only feet (lion’s paws) have survived up to today, but the upper part of the body was destroyed, because of this palace structure, this place was named as Sigiriya. The name Sigiriya originates from the word ‘’SINHAGIRI‘’ which means lion’s rock.

HISTORY

After the Death of the king, Sigiriya rock again becomes a a monastery until the 14th century

Lion rock
View of Sigiriya Rock from the western Entrance gate

OVERVIEW

Climbing on the rock isn’t difficult as looks like 1200 steps one way which starts from the royal garden Up to the summit at the top which hardly took 45 minutes one way to reach on top. Climbing this rock can be divided into 2 parts, First From the royal garden to Lion paws. In the midway 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. The second half of the climb starts from Lion paws to the summit, You need to be careful while heading on the summit as the 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, the best time to visit this rock is in the morning or in the evening, Try to avoid visiting the rock in the afternoon as the temperature goes very high. While climbing the Rock, Keep the water bottle with you.

Entrance lion rock
Stairs for the Lion Paws
Outer moat entrance lion rock
Sigiriya Rock: Western Entrance Gate

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SIGIRIYA ROCK


ENTRANCE FEES

The 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 reduces 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 a good reason to visit that place.

Maybe this is the reason most 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 water fountains & a Royal garden, audience hall, which was once home to many Buddhist monks, is a beautiful place to explore before climbing on the rock.

ROYAL GARDEN OF SIGIRIYA ROCK

Once you enter in premises from the western gate, the straight symmetrical way will lead you to Sigiriya rock. you will pass from the water garden, which used to be fountains installed by the king to make this area more beautiful, A series of steps continues up through the royal garden which used to be very beautiful during the king Kassapa term. but now it’s all dry, only the basic structure is left, this place is amazing to see how people from the 5th century are so creative to design all these without any technology.

Fresco sigiriya museum
Fresco: View of Fresco’s from The Sigiriya Museum

FRESCO

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 the really big frescos inside the museum, rest are placed on the rock as usual, which you can see climbing almost halfway 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 a 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 timmy handa
Lion Paws

LION PAWS

Almost halfway towards the top, you will see the two big lion paws, stairs going up to the summit from the middle of these two paws. As per locals & officials, there were used to be lion’s face above the paws, but the upper portion of the lion was destroyed. Because of this lion’s structure, this palace was named Sigiriya. The name Sigiriya originates from the Sinhala word “SINHAGIRI” which means lion rock.

SUMMIT OF SIGIRIYA 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’s throne, palace complex, But today only the foundation of these structures exist and the remains are usually unimpressive.

A small stone slab is known as king throne, possibly a meditation spot, just a few steps along the summit on the east sides, there are some water tanks, which are used for water conservation.

Sigiriya museum
Sigiriya Museum

SIGIRIYA ROCK MUSUEM

To understand more about this site, Sigiriya museum is must visit the 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.  jewelry, weapons made of stones, mud-made utensils of ancient civilization are here, Although you are not allowed to take photos inside most parts of the museum.

Top on lion rock
Narrow Stairs for the Summit from Lion Paws

ADVISE FOR VISITORS BEFORE CLIMBING THIS ROCK.

  1. Visitors are allowed to visit the sigiriya Heritage site only from 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM
  2. After 07:00 PM visitors are prohibited from remaining within the area.
  3. 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.
  4. Harming, Removing, carrying away, Despoiling and writing on monuments or archaeological sites are strictly prohibited.
  5. Do not walk on the brick wall, monuments etc.
  6. Do not feed food to animals (Specially Monkeys)
  7. 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, Kurunegala, Dambulla, and Habarana leave Every 30 minutes.

once you reach the Dambulla Bus stand, you will find the shuttle bus service run in every 30 Minutes from Dambulla to the Sigiriya Bus stand.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR SIGIRIYA ROCK

Sigiriya is a small village as all the hostels are mostly Family Run guesthouses, 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 to amazing and show you the best view of Lion rock from the Pidurangala Summit.
Click here to see more about Pidurangala Rock


Thanks for reading the article, please feel free to read my other blogs on Sri Lanka. Feel free to share your experience with me about your journey.

Thanks for Reading

Timmy walker