Extensively known as the Lions Rock, Sigiriya is definitely worth visiting. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982 for its evident ancient urban planning, irrigation and arts. Sigiriya is Asia’s best preserved city and is considered to be one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world. The rock plateau which is said to have formed by magma from an extinct volcano, is placed about 200 meters above the jungle terrain; consisting of moats, walls and a number of water gardens -all of what remains from the ancient city that once flourished.
The Rock Fortress of Sri Lanka is situated in the district of Matale, close to Dambulla. In order to reach this magnificent site, one can easily use the Colombo-Habarana highway, proceeding 10 km east from Inamaluwa. The best time to climb this rock would be early morning, so keep in mind that you can purchase your tickets at 7.00 am and make your way to the top before the crowd and the heat sets in.
Make sure you pack necessities -water for example- because it’s a mildly challenging climb. The tickets are priced at $30 a person and it requires some level of fitness since the stairs are very narrow and steep, but the beautiful panoramic view and the palace complex is definitely worth every bit of it.
If you are a history buff, architecture or nature lover, exploring the Lion Rock is a must! The story behind this great ‘palace in the sky’ is one of murder, a struggle of power between two brothers and vengeance. Shifting the capital to Sigiriya, King Kasyapa ordered the construction of the city around the rock, placing his palace on top, hoping to build a fortress that would protect him from his brother if he were to return from exile.
The gardens include a number of pools, channels and fountains that still function after 1,500 years. The summit consists of an incredible view of the surrounding panorama and foundations of the palace complex; if you’re lucky, you might see a monkey or two!
One of the most iconic structures is the path with the two lion paws on the northern side of the rock. It is thought that the name Sigiriya is derived from the fact that there may have been a complete statue of a lion so that the shape of the rock would take its body. However only the two paws remain today as they act as the entrance to the stairway that leads to the rock summit.
The Sigiriya rock has plenty more to offer! From functioning water pools, to the mirror wall, to the beautiful murals of damsels, be prepared to stay an entire day if you really want to learn about the rock and its inception. Truly marvelous indeed, Sigiriya stands out as a fine example of complex ancient construction, urbanization and art.