The Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka The Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka

The Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka: A Whole World On #1 Island!

So, you are getting married and haven’t yet picked your honeymoon destination. Oops! that’s not fair. But I got it; you are a bit choosy, right. And you should be, after all, it’s your honeymoon. Here, I’ll talk about one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations- The Sigiriya Rock Fortress. I mean you can have the best views, the best moments, and of course the best pictures of your life. Trust me. This is a darn epic place where travel lovers unite!

Engulfed by a mass expanse of thickets, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka (Lion Rock) is both a geological wonder and an astonishing feat of ancient town planning and technology. Located along the path of the Dambulla Cave Temple to Habarane, this rock is famous for its once-formidable lion figure that stood guarding the entrance. Today, only its enormous paws remain. 

Many backpackers nowadays choose to visit the Pidurangala Rock and skip Sigiriya, looking at its price tag. But after reading this article, you might find that’s completely wrong! I’ll tell you every detail about this place so that you don’t have any doubts. But, first, check the map below to get its exact location.

So, scroll down to unveil everything you must know before your sole touches Sigiriya!

In a photograph, you might not get its immense structure. But if you’re a travel addict, you might get what I am trying to say. There is so much more! Sitting 650 feet high on a vertically flat plain that is blanketed by rainforest, the Sigiriya is the pinnacle point to capture some dramatic sites in Sri Lanka. You can find it in the Central Province within the Matale District. 

Atop this steep granite mountain remains the ruins of an ancient palace complex with a Royal Gardens dating back to the reign of King Kasyapa (477AD – 495 AD). Ah yes! I’ll come to that later. And you won’t believe that according to the locals, it is considered the 8th Wonder of the World. Sounds similar to Machu Picchu in Peru, isn’t it?

The journey to the summit starts from a stone stairway from the base of the rock. However, about halfway through the stairs, you can find two eerie gigantic lion’s paws. These are an evident fact of the remains of the enormous lion’s head whose wide-open mouth served as the palace’s royal entrance!

At the summit, there is a sophisticated garden that adorns the periphery of the palace with two moats and quite several pools. Interestingly, even the water fountains there have been working since the early ages till today. Cool!

Nevertheless, just like Machu Picchu, this place has been recorded under the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its versatile value showcased through ancient architecture, historical significance, art, hydraulic technology, town planning, and cultural landscape characteristics.

I Know You Are Excited to Dive into the Sigiriya History

No wonder you might have a question now: when was Sigiriya built? And how old is Sigiriya? The building of this quaint fortress dates back to the 5th century during the reign of King Kasyapa, between 477 A.D. and 495 A.D. But the evolution of the rocks dates further backward in time, some millions of years ago. Initially, it was a volcanic landscape that had eroded, and the stone itself is evidence of a long-eroded volcano’s hardened magma plug. 

Sigiriya The Ancient Rock Fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Subsequently, archaeological evidence around the rock shows the presence of the Mesolithic humans, the first inhabitants of pre-historic Lanka. To prove it, the excavations unearthed bone tools, stone tools, and faunal and floral carcasses. Later in the 3rd century, it is said that Buddhist Monks occupied the caves in the rocks with reference to the inscriptions on the rock surfaces. 

Finally, Sigiriya became a fortified city and a golden landmark in history under the reign of King Kasyapa  (477-495 AC), a wise master builder known for ancient architecture, hydraulic engineering, paintings, and so on. According to the chronicles, the construction of Sigiriya is related to the country’s political history towards the end of the 5th century.  This is how it goes…

After the reign of King Mahanama (410- 432 AD), Prince Dhatusena reigned over Anuradhapura in 459 AD, overthrowing the Indian intruder ‘Pandu’. He had two Queens, out of whom he had two sons—Mugalan (Moggallana) from the first queen and Kassapa (Kashyapa) from the second queen. But the younger Prince, Kashyapa, surpassed his father by murdering him with the help of Migara, his father’s army general, and became the king.

Story of King Kashyapa - Sigiriya Lion Rock

This put the rightful heir Prince Mugalan into jitters, and he fled to India. However, the Buddhist Bhikkus and the people favored Mugalan’s leadership. After becoming the ruler, fear inched up into King Kashyapa, who thought that one day his half-brother might return after his exile from India to avenge him. This led him to renovate the Sigiriya rock and make it a kingdom for himself. 

After eighteen years of construction during his reign between 477 AD to 495 AD, the Sigiriya Kingdom was completed. It is widely believed that the fortress was a refuge for the King when he feared for his life. Ultimately, upon the eighteen-year expiry, Prince Mugalan returned from India with an army and overthrew King Kassapa. This is what happened…

The King killed himself during the battle, and Mugalan became the ruler. He returned to Anuradhapura to reign over his country and returned the Sigiriya to the Buddhist priests. The fortress was abandoned until 1150 AD and was nearly forgotten for consecutive seven centuries. In 1831, it was rediscovered by the British Army Major Jonathan Forbes while traversing the land on horseback. However, despite the fact King Kashyapa was not held in high respect in Sri Lanka’s history for his dubious behavior, he is credited even now for his ability to implement imagination into reality.

By designing this Sri Lankan-style spectacle of high-caliber art and engineering skills that can challenge the other world structures of his time! Even in the 21st century, the remains talk about the importance of Sigiriya Kingdom, making it to be called the Eighth Wonder of the World!

Check All the Details Below to Plan Your Sri Lanka Tour to Sigiriya

First, keep this in your mind. This is a pretty small country, and you can reach the rock in a short time. The Sigiriya Rock sits in the Sigiriya town near Dambulla (and NOT ON Dambulla, according to the blogs I came across online). And my best advice to you is to stay a day earlier near Sigiriya or Dambulla and start your day tour to the Rock early the next day. Here are a few options that are used by most travelers to get to Sigiriya;

  • By BusYou can find them across the country at cheap and affordable rates. However, they don’t meet the expected quality and are mostly jammed in traffic. It is a perfect option if you are on a strict budget thought. Check out the prices and times of buses to Sigiriya from Columbo and the rest of the areas here!
  • Via Uber or a Private DriverUber is a common app used in Columbo that directly lands you in the destination. Otherwise, you can rent a driver for over a day to drive you to the Rock. Here’s how to reach them online!
  • Drive your very own rented Tuk-Tuk– Honestly, you will love riding the Tuk-Tuk and can tour the entire continent all by yourself! Trust me, the freedom you get riding this is unparalleled by any mode of transportation you take on your tour. You can rent this in Columbo and can be the first to reach the rock early in the morning!

I’ve heard many tourists say that they rented the Tuk Tuk for four weeks and journeyed to the farthest corners of the continent! Otherwise, ask the hotel you stay to arrange a taxi to drop you there. Want more comfy options to sojourn? Check here! Or if you want an organized tour, then click here!

As mentioned earlier, if you are not a citizen, you have to pay 5000 Rupees ($30), which is a bit pricey, though. For citizens, it’s just 50 Rupees! You need to purchase the tickets before climbing the Lion Staircase at the Sigiriya Rock ticket office beside the fortress’s main entrance on the side street between 5.30 am and 8:30 pm. This is a revised time since 14 January 2023 to give a dazzling view of sunrise and sunset above the Rock.

Keep cash handy, and don’t rely on your card at the ATM beside the place! You might find Pidurangala interesting because it costs just 500 Rupees and you get a beautiful view of the Sigiriya Fortress. But trust me, it’s not worth that much as you won’t be allowed the explore the expanse of the Sigiriya. 

And this is the epic place that you MUST visit to trail back in time and enjoy moments of the 5th century. So, don’t miss out on the Sigiriya Rock! But that doesn’t mean that the Pidurangala is not worth visiting. You must note that it’s just a viewpoint, and both are worth a try for your soles to get the country’s fascinating history.

Let me warn you, this place lies in what is called the Dry Zone in the country. Due to this trait, the place remains 356 days arid and hot. So, make your trip uphill early mornings and late evenings (around 4:30 pm) the best time to visit. Also, this is the best time to avoid crowds, take stunning clicks, and avoid tiring hot hikes to the summit. Ultimately the touring commandment here is to avoid weekends and public holidays as the place tends to become busier than usual!

You’ll Get a Lot to Explore from Hikes to Gardens

If you are thinking it’s just a rock and what else to do there, you are wrong. You will be pleased to hear that this rock hike doesn’t take much of your time than how it’s shown in a photograph! At the maximum, it can take up to an hour, including all the little breaks and photo shoots you do. 

Let me warn you now if you are heading out during mid-day, you might be stuck as the crowds tend to increase. Also, you can reach the top with easy-to-follow signposts depending on your fitness level. But the real challenge arises when you take the steep metal stairway to the peak. If it’s raining, be cautious to watch your footing as the stairs might become slippery!

Don’t worry! Climbing the stairway is not the ultimate thing to do in this unique landscape. There are quite a number of places to visit and enjoy at the summit. I have just named a few and attached super awesome clicks below them. Ensure to check them out while you climb Sigiriya; 

Sigiriya- Ancient Rock Fortress 🇱🇰

Wow! So much to see on such a small continent! It is incredible to see how an untouched rock can be recreated into a full-fledged living complex incorporating impressive art forms. A visit to Sigiriya is a MUST for your Lankan itinerary. So, there we have it! 

I hope you’ve relished this handbook to seeing Sigiriya Rock, and hopefully, you’ve got all the info you require to put your best foot ahead! Happy Journeys!

Last Updated on May 5, 2024 by Pragya


  1. Sigiriya’s historical significance was well-captured in this article. The vivid descriptions transported me to ancient Sri Lanka. A must-read for history enthusiasts, researcher and other people who loves history.

  2. This article beautifully captures the essence of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The historical significance and architectural marvel of this site are truly captivating. The detailed description of the frescoes and the stunning views from the summit make me want to add Sigiriya to my travel bucket list immediately. Thanks for bringing the magic of this #1 island gem to light!

  3. The spirit of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is exquisitely captured in this piece. This location’s architectural wonder and historical importance are incredibly intriguing. I want to instantly put Sigiriya on my vacation bucket list because of the thorough explanation of the frescoes and the breathtaking views from the peak.

  4. This detailed guide on Sigiriya Rock Fortress is an absolute treasure for any travel enthusiast. The historical insights, coupled with practical tips on reaching the destination, entrance fees, and the best times to visit, make it a comprehensive resource. The vivid descriptions of Sigiriya’s history, including King Kasyapa’s reign and the subsequent events, add a captivating layer to the article. The inclusion of alternatives like Pidurangala, along with stunning visuals, enhances the reader’s experience. Overall, this article served as a virtual tour, offering a glimpse into the wonders of Sigiriya and inspiring a desire to explore this ancient marvel. Great job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *