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John Still in 1907 had observed that; “The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery… the largest picture in the world perhaps”.


 Explore Sigiriya Fortress in Sri Lanka

The magnificent Sigiriya fortress

The magnificent Sigiriya fortress

Also known as the Eight Wonder of the world, Sigiriya Fortress has a number of tales and facts revolving around the story of its origin. Located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka, this ancient palace complex was built on a natural flat granite rock, visible from miles around.

Sigiriya means Lion Rock, the name was acquired after King Kassapa decided to build his capital city on this 1,213-foot-high natural landmark in shape of a lion. Due to the harshness of the years only two paws remain of what can be imagined to be a majestic lion. Reports suggest that before King Kassapa’s rule, Buddhist monks used this landmark as rock shelter. After the death of King Kassapa, Sigiriya Fortress was given over to the Buddhist monks, who later abandoned it in the 14th century due to lack of funds to maintain the infrastructure.

TheLion Rock remained forgotten, until it was uncovered by the British explorer, John Still in 1907. Sigiriya is one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka and is listed as a world heritage site.

What to see in Sigiriya

Sirgiriya Fortress was designed to be not only the strongest fort but also as a monument which will leave the visitors in awe. The king ordered his palace complex to be decorated with frescoes. These frescoes known as the Sigiriya Rock Paintings or Frescoes of Sigiri Damsel are portraits of partially naked, nymph-like women. They are found on the pathway up the rock and serve as one of the major highlights. The paintings on the roof of the Cobra Hood Cave are considered to be a masterpiece of expressionist paintings.


The frescoes of Sigiriya fortress

Also famous is the mirror wall, the once well polished mirror is now covered by ancient graffiti.  The graffiti suggests that during King Kassapa’s rule the great lion’s head served as an entrance to the city. Now a series of metal staircase, emerging from between the paws escalate to the summit.

Lastly, the gardens of Sigiriya are like no other! Divided into 3 parts i.e the water garden, boulder garden and terraced garden, together they form a perfect picturesque setting for the Lion rock. The 1200 step climb to the summit may seem tenuous but the view and the city ruins will make it worthwhile. This heritage site is a perfect example of urban planning in the 5th century.


The city ruins at the top of the Sigiriya fortress

Getting to Sigiriya

Catch a flight to Colombo International Airport or China Bay Airport and then take a taxi, bus or train to Dumbulla. It is located 25kms away from Segiriya. Segiriya is connected to Dembulla by regular bus service. However, you can also hail a tuk tuk. Do not miss the last bus back to Dumbulla, which leaves at 6, if you do not have any plans to stay overnight in Segiriya.


Best Time to visit Sigiriya

The best season to visit the Lion Rock is from December to March. Climb the Lion Rock in the early hours of morning, as the heat is bearable. But the sunset offers an enchanting view. Remember that entry closes at 5. The entry tickets are expensive for a budget traveller.


Related Package

Cutural Sri Lanka; 14 Days / 13 Nights; Rs. 1,31,720 /-

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About author


Tall, lanky and slightly kookie in the head, Sarah Merchant loves travel, music, blogging, reading, talking (a lot) and history. Sarah has a flair for dramatics and dreams of clicking selfies in every part of the world. You can find her on Instagram @saarah030895

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1 Comment

  1. Ravika Vasta
    September 20, 11:40 Ravika Vasta

    I made a visit to Sri Lanka last year. It’s such a lovely country–people are friendly, streets are clean, traffic is so orderly. Wish India would learn from their little neighbour!

    reply Reply this comment

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