Advantages Stunning views from the top
Disadvantages The last stairway was a bit 'make shift'
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
I travelled to Sri Lanka in September 2009 when myself and my friend went on the ‘Elephant and Spices’ tour with the Travel Collection.Getting To Sigiriya
Sigiriya is the most distinctive landmark in Sri Lanka. It is located on a steep mound and then rises a further 180 meters from that point. The surrounding ground and areas are exceptionally flat and so Sigiriya can be seen from miles away, in all directions. It looks very stunning even before you get up close.
On Sigiriya lay the ruins of an ancient palace complex which was built during the reign of King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD). The most recognised area within the complex is Sigiriya Rock (also known as Lion Rock) which was formed from an old magma plug from an extinct and eroded volcano. This however, is not the only site of interest on Sigiriya; you can also see old landscaped gardens, a mirrored wall and the oldest known graffiti in the world.Sigiriya is a mix of various colours but from a distance, the Rock looks to be a reddish colour. It’s only as you arrive closer towards the Rock that you can see the separate colours which includes different shades of stone, rusty reds and even black in some areas.
We left out hotel and made the journey towards Sigiriya about 9.30 am which we were told by our guide is one of the best times to visit as obviously the weather can get very hot in Sri Lanka and you don’t really want to be climbing a massive rock in the middle of the day in the bright sunshine. En route to Sigiriya, our guide gave us a little talk about the history of Sigiriya and what our visit to this attraction would entail.
From here you follow the pathway which leads you onto a terrace where you can see Audience Hall, Cobra Hood Cave and the many hollows in which early Buddhist monks lived. The monks lived, studied and meditated here. Cobra Hood Cave is particularly interesting to look at and you can certainly see how it got its name!From here, you follow several pathways and sets of steps to a natural pocket which lies within the rock. By now, you are 100 meters above the ground and here, you can see the Sigiriyan frescoes which are some of the oldest forms of art ever discovered in Sri Lanka. We were told by our tour guide that the paintings were of celestial nymphs which didn’t really mean too much to me but the pictures were very interesting all the same. I was amazed at just how vibrant the colours used in the paintings were; especially when you consider that they are over 1500 years old. The reason these paintings remain intact is that the wall they are painted on is protected by an overhang in the rock which has stopped the wall from weathering. In total there are 22 paintings which can still be seen today although it is believed that at some stage, there were many more.
Just past these paintings, you follow another pathway along to a “Mirror Wall” which is on the opposite side to the paintings. The Mirror Wall got its name from the fact that it has a sheen to it, almost making it looks mirrored. This is where you can find what is believed to be the oldest graffiti in the world. It is said, that the graffiti was written in ancient Sinhalese and it details the impressions that the paintings had on its visitors. These walls of writing have provided people with a vital insight into the evolution of the Sinhalese language. Over 700 poems can be seen and they have provided an insight into this cultures appreciation of art and beauty.Leading on from this, you then find yourself on a large platform which is probably nearly three quarters of the way up Sigiriya Rock. On this platform there are massive wasp nests which are actually quite incredible to look at. We were warned to stay away from them as they have swarmed before and have very nasty stings but it was still nice to admire from a distance! This is also where you will find Lion Gate. This massive structure is what gave this attraction its name, Sigiriya which means Lion Rock. Today, the only part of this structure that still exists is the Lions paws but looking at this gives you some idea of just how big the entire structure must have been in its day.
As you enter the staircase in the middle of the Lion’s paws you find yourself on a very narrow steel staircase. Trust me; this part of the climb is not for the faint hearted!! The staircase is bolted directly into the rock and has a half hearted attempt at a railing on the other side. At times, you can feel quite venerable as you are obviously very high up and the staircase is very thin and worn in places. I found that as long as I took it nice and steady and help onto the railings, it wasn’t too tricky.One thing I would like to point out is that the local Sri Lankan’s hang around here to offer you a guided tour of Sigiriya. As we already came with a guided tour, we did not require their services and our guide told us that we would need to be careful regarding these men as if you started a conversation with them, they would automatically expect money for sharing their knowledge with you. Our guide told us to simply say that we already have a guide but these men were certainly persistent but not to the point of being a nuisance – they are just trying to earn a bit of money. I would however say that it is very off putting when you are trying to climb a tiny staircase on the side of a massive Rock and are still trying to remain polite to a man who keeps trying to force information on you! It was certainly an experience though!!
The journey up to the top of Sigiriya was certainly a nerve wracking one but it was definitely a journey worth making! Today, the only remains that can be seen at the very top are the ruins of the Summit Palace. Here you can see a throne which has been cut out of the natural rock and also a couple of swimming pool like areas which would have been used for bathing.The main point of climbing the rock for me, were the simply stunning views from the top. From here, you can see just how big the landscaped gardens that you passed through on the way up are. You can literally see for miles in all directions and it’s a great opportunity for taking some photos.
Once you have finished taking in the views from the top, it is simply a case of re-tracing your steps back down to the bottom. I must admit that going back down the stairs from the summit was more nerve wracking than going up as you can see just how high up you are and for some reason you are more aware of the gaps in the stairs! You also have to pass the people coming up the stairs which means you have to go around the outside of them which was slightly awkward because the staircase was very thin in parts. As you can see though, I survived this so it couldn’t have been too bad!From here, we took a leisurely stroll back the way we had come and made out way back down to the ground, taking it yet more beautiful views on the way down.
In summary, I would highly recommend a visit to Sigiriya. I think that if you are going to Sri Lanka, this is one of the must see attractions. I particularly like the fact that it is a natural attraction and that as much as possible has been done to try and preserve it, but not so much so that any parts have been added – it is exactly as nature intended. I have never climbed anything in my life and when we first arrived at Sigiriya, I remember thinking I wasn’t sure how we were going to climb it in just one day because it just seemed so big. What I did like was the layout of the climb, because there are a mixture of stairs and pathways, you never actually feel like you are climbing until you get to the very end part which made this trip extremely enjoyable.
Our tour consisted of 27 people and one of them was an 82 year old lady who managed to climb all the way to the Lion Gate (at which point she decided to sit out the very last part) but it goes to show just how enjoyable and easy the trek to this point is.
The only downsides were that because of the make shift staircase to the very top, some people might be too wary too climb all the way to the top which would be a real shame as the views are simply amazing.
Attention, this is the first review from this author
Instead of giving a negative rating, consider:
Help this member by giving your advice
Report fraud (for example plagiarism) or other issue with the review to the Ciao support team
Add your comment