Mystic Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress Sri Lanka (සීගිරිය)

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Ascending 200 meters above the flat plains, Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock, presents one of Sri Lanka’s most striking vistas. At its summit lie the remnants of an ancient palace complex, constructed under the rule of King Kasyapa (477AD – 495AD), while the adjoining terrain of the rock forms the Royal Garden. Designated as one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it stands as a premier attraction drawing numerous tourists.

The Sigiriya site encompasses 1200+ of steps to reach the top of the granite rock, featuring sheer sides where the summit occasionally juts out over the base. At its peak, remnants of chambers, staircases, and reservoirs are visible. A stone stairway connects the base to the mountaintop, with a notable halfway point marked by colossal lion’s paws, remnants of a monumental lion head that once served as the entrance to the royal palace. Encircling the palace grounds are the remnants of an intricate garden complex, featuring two moats and numerous pools, some of which still boast functioning water fountains after 1500 years.

Entrance Tickets Prices of Sigiriya

Access to the Sigiriya World Heritage site is not free. The fees vary on whether you are a local, SAARC national, or a national of another country.

Non SAARC country Foreign AdultUSD 36
Non SAARC country Foreign ChildUSD 18
SAARC country Foreign AdultUSD 18
SAARC country Foreign ChildUSD 18
Local AdultLKR 120
Local ChildrenLKR 60
Children below 6 yearsFree

Sigiriya Openining Times

Sigiriya is open every day from 5 AM to 5 PM. However, it becomes quite hot in the afternoon and the climb in the afternoon is not as enjoyable. Therefore it is recommended to be at the ticket counter as early as possible and start your climb before 9 AM.

It’s also recommended to try to visit the site on a weekday when there are fewer crowds. On weekends and especially on long weekends, expect long queues to the Chamber of Frescoes.

Precautions to Take at Sigiriya

Sigiriya Rock is home to several colonies of wasps. When you climb the rock you will see massive hives hanging from rock edges in several places. Therefore it’s important not to make much noise when climbing the rock.

On the terrace at the foot of the lion’s feet, there is an emergency meshed shelter to take cover in case of a wasp attack.

Itinerary for Sigiriya

  • Dress Code – There is no dress code for this site as this is not a religious site. Any type of clothing is okay as long you respect the cultural values of any country. Carry a hat or a cap. Consider the following when deciding. You will sweat a lot on the climb, Top of the rock may be quite hot with little shelter.
  • Carry enough water
  • Flip Flops are not recommended in case of rain or watery rock.
  • Sun Screen

The History of Sigiriya (Lion Rock)

Sigiriya may have been inhabited through Pre-Historic times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 3rd century BCE, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the Buddhist Sangha. The garden and the palace were built by Kasyapa 477 – 495 AD. Then after Kasyapa’s death, it was a monastery complex up to about the 14th century after which it was abandoned. The ruins were discovered in 1907 by British Explorer John Still.

Ruins of the Royal Court

The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. who murdered his father by walling him alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana. Mogallan fled to India to escape being assassinated by Kasyapa but vowed revenge. In India, he raised an army intending to return and retake the throne of Sri Lanka which was rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallana, Kasyapa built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Mogallana finally arrived and on the battlefield Kasyapa’s armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sword. Mogalan returned the capital to Anuradhapura and turned Sigiriya into a Monastery complex.

Frescos

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”.

The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, covering an area 140 meters long and 40 meters high. There are references in the Graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings.

Old photos of Sigiriya (Lion Rock) from www.imagesofceylon.com

Also See

Map of  Sigiriya (Lion Rock) Fortress

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Travel Directions to (Lion Rock) Sigiriya

Route from Colombo to Sigiriya (Lion Rock) Route from Moragaswewa ( on Habarana – Minneriya Road) to Sigiriya (Lion Rock)
Through : Kelaniya – Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Dambulla – Inamaluwa
Distance : 175 km
Travel time : 3 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
Distance : 15 km
Travel time : 30 minutes.
Driving directions : see on google map

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