Lion Rock - Sri Lanka's Jungle Paradise
Sigiriya, perched on a cliff that juts sharply over the central Sri Lankan woods, is as formidable today as it must have been when it was initially erected by a ruthless ruler in the fifth century A.D.
Sigiriya (named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982) is reached by corridors carved into the rock face between a pair of massive lion paws.
The fortification was eventually overtaken by the forest, and only local peasants knew about it.
Outsiders searched for the old place using historical information recorded in Buddhist writings. In the 19th century, British scholars rediscovered its amazing architecture and frescoes. Here is everything you need to know about the Lion Rock Sri Lanka.
We need to go a bit further into Sri Lanka's rich history to understand more about the famous fort of Sigiriya Lion Rock.
Many people would agree that it was linked to the southern Indian kingdoms and had strong relations with them.
The Sinhalese Empire is Sri Lanka's most well-known empire, which has endured in legends and left a lasting imprint on the island.
Sigiriya's first building goes back to Ravana's father's kingdom. If you've heard of Ravana, the Sri Lankan monarch who kidnapped Sita (the Indian king Rama's wife) and then battled Rama to his death, you've heard of him.
However, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's historic capital, dominated the country for the most part.
The story of Sigiriya continues till the foundation of the new Sinhala kingdom. Dhatusena, the first King of the Moriyan Empire, led it.
His infamous son Kasyapa I, a son of a non-royal spouse, is claimed to have aspired to be king.
After murdering the king and walling him up alive, he took the throne. Moggallana, the true successor, escaped to south India to gather an army against Kasyapa, with the intention of defeating him later.
Kasyapa erected a fortification on top of a monolithic rock in anticipation of Moggallana's return.
He further embellished it with gardens, fountains, and a massive lion guarding the entrance.
It was home to him and his 500 concubines. During this period, I'm sure he lived life to the fullest.
Moggallana arrived with a complete force and destroyed Kasyapa's army, just as he had foretold.
Kasyapa chose death than being imprisoned and humiliated, therefore he took his own life. For a long time, Moggallana transformed this location into a Buddhist shrine.
However, there are several versions of the story available, none of which have good record of the sequence of events that really transpired.
Sigiriya is situated in the heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the central province's lush highlands. Anuradhapura is a 2-hour drive north of Kandy and a 3-hour drive north of Kandy.
The region near Sigiriya is largely flat, although dense jungles cover it. Once you reach the summit, you can see kilometers of trees, generally flat with a few small hills strewn over the landscape.
Because there is no big town or hamlet nearby with a train station, the only way to get to Sigiriya is by car.
The nearest train station is Habrana, which is 15 kilometers distant, and you will need to hire a private car to go to Sigiriya from there.
A private automobile may be hired from Kandy or Colombo for 12,500LKR from Colombo and roughly 8000LKR from Kandy. If you're traveling with a group or family, this is a fantastic alternative.
If you're traveling alone or in a group, you may take a local bus from Kandy to Dambulla and then another bus to Sigiriya. However, I believe the buses are infrequent and may take a long time.
A more convenient option is to join a group tour departing from Colombo or Kandy that will transport you to Dambulla and Sigirya for the day and return you afterwards. It could even be less expensive if you don't go all the way to Anuradhapura.
The optimum time to visit Sigiriya Lion Rock is either early in the morning or before sunset in the evening.
If you're coming from one of the surrounding cities, getting a dawn view may be tough unless you start in the middle of the night, which I don't suggest. Then, even if it becomes a bit busy, go for the sunset.
Middays may be really hot, particularly if you're traveling during the summer. In general, October through February is a nice time to visit Sri Lanka. Sigiriya Hours of operation: 7 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (last entry at 4 pm)
Many individuals dislike hiring guides since they may rapidly add up in cost. I would stress, though, that without a guide, any historical site is meaningless.
If you have to, haggle hard, but without a guide, the site is merely a place to take pictures.
People also believe that they can acquire excellent information via the internet or books, but this does not compare to the wealth of information that local guides have or the secret details they can tell you about the area.
We bought one for 2000LKR and it was well worth the money. Check whether a tour bus is already available if you are taking one.
The admission costs 65 LKR for residents and 3750 LKR (about $30) for international visitors.
Yes, you read it correctly: it costs more than 56 times as much as it does for residents. The price has increased as a result of its designation as a UNESCO world historic site, and you can't escape it.
Don't hesitate to purchase the ticket as you've already paid a lot of money to go to Sri Lanka and Sigiriya. It might seem exorbitant and unjust, but so be it!
The extensive gardens in front of the monolithic rock of Sigiriya are a sight to see in and of themselves.
At first glance, they may seem mundane or even dull. All of them, however, are linked beneath by a system of pipes that also supply the fountains.
All of this was built over a thousand years ago. You'll come across deep ditches filled with water and crocodiles as you go.
This is a classic fortification structure used to defend the main fort. In the garden area, there are a number of hidden outposts that your guide will be able to show you.
To get to the summit of Sigiriya, you'll have to climb a little more than 1200 stone and steel stairs (a recent addition after preservation).
Take your time with this; if you don't undertake comparable tasks every day, it will get tiresome. You'll come across amazing tales on your route to the top.
I assure you, king Kasyapa was a big thing. At addition to 500 concubines, he created some beautiful artwork in Sigiriya.
Near the midway point, you'll come to a cave with murals of his concubines painted in natural colors by prominent artists of the period. You are not permitted to take photographs here; instead, you must observe and enjoy.
Another part has an entire wall that has been sanded and beeswaxed to the point where it can precisely reflect and recreate the paintings on the opposite wall with sunlight. A natural marvel and a work of art!
You'll see why it's dubbed the lion rock as you approach a large landing. The ruins of the main fort include the remains of a gigantic lion's paws situated at the main entrance.
The remaining components of the Lion Rock entrance have died. From there, a steel staircase leads to the highest level, where you may enjoy a spectacular view.
While there was a fort at the summit that housed a large number of people, you won't be able to tell anything about it anymore.
According to folklore, the monarch had at least a three-story structure with outside spaces where he could enjoy nighttime festivities.
The monarch was transported by a palanquin up and down the whole rock by a throng of people.
The most stunning discovery is a large bath, like a swimming pool, someplace up there. They found up a means to pump water from a local pond or stream all the way up there without having to rely on real people bringing it.
It's wonderful that they were able to manage such technical skill at the time. Take in the vista from the summit and regain your breath before beginning your descent.
Because there is no place to purchase anything along the route, you should buy a couple of water bottles before rising to the summit.
Also, since the whole procedure will take around 2-3 hours, bring some food with you if you are hungry. But, out of respect, make sure you don't clutter the area.
Wear sunblock, a helmet or hat, or a scarf if you're climbing in the heat of the day. Wear loose, comfortable clothing in Sri Lanka since the climb may be hot, damp, and sweaty.
After you've seen Sigiriya, don't forget to go to Dambulla and spend some time there. If you've traveled this far, you may as well go to another well-known tourist destination.
Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, including several extravagantly large cave temples.
These are a group of Buddhist temples where a large number of Buddha statues were carved out of stone in a record-breaking 167 days.
According to legend, these temples were built by King Valagamba of Anuradhapura in the first century BCE.
For 14 years, King Valagamba was banished from his reigning realms. The Buddhist monks in these caverns protected him from his attackers and gave him with sanctuary.
When he reclaimed his kingdom, he ordered that these temples be built in honor of the monks who had rescued him.
There are around 80 cave temples in the vicinity, but just 5 of them are prominent tourist attractions, with 153 Gautam Buddha sculptures of different sizes and shapes.
Aside from this, there is a large, beautiful Buddhist temple that was built in contemporary times. If you wish to pay your respects to a shrine, come here.
The gigantic lion that welcomed visitors halfway up the igneous rock on a little plateau gave the igneous rock its name.
A lion carved out of rock acted as both a greeting and a warning to travelers to the Sigiriya.
In the 19th century, British scholars rediscovered its amazing architecture and frescoes. The fifth-century monarch Kashyapa I, who headed the local Sinhalese dynasty, the Moriya, erected Sigiriya.
Until Kashyapa's fall in 495 A.D., the towering castle served as the Sinhalese kingdom's capital.
The Lion Rock at Sigiriya is one of the most renowned tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. The natural phenomena is a massive (200m) square-shaped rock that was formerly King Kassapa's stronghold.
How difficult is it to climb the rock of Sigiriya? Climbing Sigiriya Rock is not difficult. It is also doable for someone with a modest degree of fitness, such as myself.
There are various pauses in between, making the overall climb less difficult than it seems.
Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka's most important historical sites. Locals refer to this historic palace and castle complex as the "Eighth Wonder of the World," and it draws thousands of visitors each year. It is undoubtedly Sri Lanka's most popular tourist attraction.
Near Sigiriya, there are a few hotels and local lodging options. Although, if you want to undertake an early morning hike to Sigiriya, we recommend staying here. Alternatively, if you want to hike to neighboring rocky outcroppings.
Despite being one of the most famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka and a UNESCO world heritage site, Sri Lanka as a whole is less visited by visitors, which is expected to change in the near future.
Sri Lanka is remained unaffected by heavy tourist, overdevelopment, or commercialisation. If you want to see it in its natural state, go now.