Looking out for a fully- loaded post to put your best foot on The Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka? Then jump into this article written by travellers for travellers to keep the vacation mode: Activated…
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!
Now, why would you want to travel all the way down to Sri Lanka and MISS visiting its best attractions?
So, scrolling down to unveil everything you must know before your sole touches Sigiriya!
1. 10 Sentences About Sigiriya Lion Rock You Must Never Forget
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 a 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).
And according to the locals, it is considered the 8th Wonder of the World. Sounds similar to Machu Picchu in Peru, right?
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.
2. Gliding Backward in Time 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 backwards 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.
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…
2.1 Archives of King Kasyapa
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’s (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.
This put the rightful heir Prince Mugalan into jitters, and he fled to India. However, the Buddhist Bhikkus and the people favoured 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 years 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 behaviour, he is credited even now for his ability to implement imagination into reality.
By designing this Sri Lankan-style spectacle of high-calibre 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!
Curious to know about the flora and fauna of the place? Then check this link out!
3. How to Take a 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).
Here are a few options that are used by most travellers to get to Sigiriya;
3.1 By Bus
You 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!
3.2 Via Uber or Private Driver
Uber is a common app used in Columbo that directly lands you in the destination. It can get cheaper depending on the number of people utilising its services.
Otherwise, you can rent a driver for over a day to drive you to the Rock. Here’s how to reach them online!
If you are lucky, don’t say no to visiting Minneriya National Park after seeing the Rock Fortress. Trust me, it’s worth every second there!
3.3 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 want an organized tour, then click here!
4. Entrance Fee to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka
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 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.
5. When to Visit the Sigiriya Fortress?
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!
6. How Long and How Hard is the Rock Hike?
You will be pleased to hear that this rock hike doesn’t take much 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!
7. What to Do After the Rock Hike
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;
Here we go…
- Sigiriya Water Gardens
- Sigiriya Boulder Gardens
- Sigiriya Terraced Gardens
- The Lion Paw
- Sigiriya Mirror Wall
- Sigiriya Frescoes
- Cobra Hood Cave
- Audience Hall
- Sigiriya Sky Palace
- Sigiriya Museum
In a Nut- Shell
Wow! So much to see in 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!
For more updates to kindle your wanderlust check out our website!