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What is Sigiriya Rock?

Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attractions – and with good reason. This ruined, fifth century city has some extraordinary features, including moat and wall fortifications, elaborately landscaped gardens, and a monastery. But it is the two-hundred metre high granite rock that stands out from these ruins that is undoubtedly the star attraction, with its exquisite frescoes and the remains of a royal palace on the summit.

1o amazing things about Sigiriya Rock

Quick tips to travel Sigiriya rock

How long does it take to climb Sigiriya?

The vertical climb up to the top of Sigiriya Lion Rock is challenging, but not impossible, and will take you anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour (it usually takes me about 45 minutes with a few sweaty breaks). Getting back down is a little easier and should take approximately 20 minutes.

Sigiriya sri lanka

How long does it take to climb Sigiriya?

To begin, you’ll have to head to the ticket booth and pay the entrance fee (US$30 or 4620 LKR for tourists, or 50 LKR for Sri Lankan citizens). Hang onto the ticket as it will be checked about mid-way through the Sigiriya hike.

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When is the best time to visit Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is located in what is known as Sri Lanka’s “dry zone”, which is mostly arid and hot throughout the year. The climate in this region can be extreme from about April to August, with the temperature soaring upwards of 30 degrees Celsius.

So the climb should start early morning or late afternooon. 

The crowds also tend to be smaller in the afternoon as many tour groups visit in the morning (before moving onto the next destination), and there’s also the additional bonus of watching the sunset once you get to the top! Just make sure you purchase your ticket before the entrance closes at 5 PM, wear sunscreen and bring a (large) bottle of water.

If you are climbing the rock in the afternoon, you may need to ensure that you have access to a flashlight (you can also use your phone’s flash function) for the walk back down. There are no lamps to light your way back down, and the ground is extremely uneven, so you need to make sure you can see where you are stepping to avoid injury.

What to wear to hike up Sigiriya?

There is no strict dress code to visit Sigiriya as it is not a religious monument. That being said, you should adhere to and respect cultural norms – tank tops, spaghetti straps and shorts are acceptable and you do not need to cover your shoulders and knees (unless you are headed to the Dambulla Cave Temples before or after), but extremely revealing outfits with exposed midriffs and miniskirts are generally frowned upon.

How to get to Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is located approximately 3-4 hours by car from Colombo. The town itself can be a pain to get to as there are few direct buses and trains (the nearest station is in Habarana), It is highly recommend saving your time and energy and hiring a private car to take you there whether you are traveling north or southbound during your Sri Lanka itinerary. If you are traveling directly to Sigiriya from Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo then you can either hire an airport taxi which will cost approximately 12,000 LKR (~US$65-70), or ask your hotel to arrange a 1-way transfer.

What is so special about Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.

Is Sigiriya 8 wonders of the world?

There’s a reason UNESCO ranks Sigiriya as the 8th Wonder of the World and once you see it you’ll completely understanding. Sigiriya is a stunning ruins of a castle build atop a tall rock mountain.

Why Sigiriya is 8th Wonder of the World?

Sigiriya is also renowned for its 5th century pre-christian frescoes, which are reminiscent of the paintings of the Ajanta Caves in India. One of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka, it has also been declared by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the World.

Who found Sigiriya?

The abandoned site of Sigiriya wasn’t found until 1831. British Army Major Jonathan Forbes rediscovered Sigiriya in 1831. He came across the site during a horseback ride.

How long does it take to climb Sigiriya?

The climb all the way to the top can take between 1.5 hours and 3 hours – depending on your fitness, how crowded the place is and how many pictures you are shooting.

What is inside Sigiriya?

The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palaces clings to the slopes below the rocks.

Who built Sigiriya rock?

Sigiriya was built by the fifth-century king Kashyapa I, who ruled the native Sinhalese dynasty, the Moriya. The imposing fortress was the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom until Kashyapa was defeated in A.D. 495.

What is Lion Rock?

Lion Rock, or less formally Lion Rock Hill, is a mountain in Hong Kong. It is located in Sha Tin District, between Kowloon Tong of Kowloon and Tai Wai of the New Territories, and is 495 metres (1,624 ft) high. The peak consists of granite covered sparsely by shrubs.

Can you climb Lion Rock?

Lion Rock is Piha’s most iconic landmark, its profile from all angles, known nation-wide. Lion Rock sits between Piha and North Piha beaches, offering people who climb it, spectacular views in all directions. It is not possible to climb to the top after a rockfall made access too dangerous.

Sigiriya Lion Rock History

According to inscriptions found in the Sigiriya caves which honeycomb the base of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, it served as a place of religious retreat as far back as the third century BC, when Buddhist monks established refuge in the locale.

It wasn’t until the fifth century AD, however, that Sigiriya Lion Rock rose briefly to supremacy in Sri Lanka, following the power struggle which succeeded the reign of Dhatusena (455-473) of Anuradhapura. King Dhatusena had two sons, Mogallana, by one of the most desired and finest of his queens, and Kassapa, by a less significant consort. Upon hearing that Mogallana had been declared heir to the throne, Kassapa rebelled, driving Mogallana into exile in India and imprisoning his father, King Dhatusena. 

The legend of Dhatusena’s subsequent demise offers an enlightening illustration of the importance given to water in early Sinhalese civilization.

Threatened with death if he refused to reveal the whereabouts of the state treasure, Dhatusena agreed to show his errant son its location if he was permitted to bathe one final time in the great Kalawewa Tank, of which the construction he had overseen. Standing within the tank, Dhatusena poured its water through his hands and told Kassapa that this alone was his treasure. 

Kassapa, none too impressed, had his father walled up in a chamber and left him to die. Mogallana, meanwhile, vowed to return from India and reclaim his inheritance. King Kassapa, making preparations for the expected invasion, constructed a new dwelling on top of the 200-metre-high Sigiriya rock – a combination of pleasure palace and indestructible Sigiriya rock fortress, which King Kassapa intended would emulate the legendary abode of Kubera, the god of wealth, while a new city was established around its base. 

According to folklore, the entire Sigiriya lion rock fortress was built in just seven years, from 477 to 485 AD.

The long-awaited invasion finally materialized in 491, Mogallana having raised an army of Tamil mercenaries to fight his cause. Despite the benefits of his indestructible Sigiriya fortress, Kassapa, in an act of fatalistic bravado, descended from his rocky abode and rode boldly out on an elephant at the head of his troops to meet the attackers on the plains below.

Unfortunately for Kassapa, his elephant took fright and bolted leading the battle. His troops, thinking he was retreating, fell back and left him to face off the battle. Facing capture and defeat, Kassapa killed himself. Following Mogallana’s quest, Sigiriya Lion Rock was handed over to the Buddhist monks, after which its caves once again became home to religious ascetics seeking peace and solitude.

The site was finally abandoned in 1155, after which it remained largely forgotten, except for brief periods of military use by the Kingdom of Kandy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, until being rediscovered by the British in 1828

It's advisable to start climbing either early morning or late afternoon to avoid intense midday heat

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