Welcome to Sigiriya
Sigiriya, also known as Sinhagiri, Lion Rock, or Lion Mountain, is one of the most valuable historical monuments situated between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane, Sri Lanka. It is an excellent example to show a combination of urban planning, water engineering, horticulture, and arts. In the surrounding area of Sigiriya, you can see that there are gardens, ponds, and other structures related to the fortress. This place is the most visited tourist destination in Sri Lanka. However, now it is a popular tourist spot by attracting thousands of tourists every year.
In the late 5th century CE, King Kashyapa has built Sigiriya Rock Fortress as the shape of a monumental lion to be a safeguard against his enemies on a remarkable monolithic rock pillar. Sigiriya is the best example of the place of refusing its secrets. Sigiriya is one of the best-preserved city centers in Asia. This massive rocky plateau rises to an elevation of 1,144 feet (349m) above sea level. This historical and archaeological enormous column of rock is nearly 200m (660 ft) high.
The Sigiriya main entrance locates on the northern side of the Sigiri rock. The Visitors can begin their ascent through the open paws of the Lion. You will have to climb a series of staircases to reach the top of the rock. On the way, you have to pass a series of frescoes. The western wall of Sigiriya, entirely covered by murals, which created during the reign of King Kashyapa. In the present, you can see that there are eighteen frescoes have survived.
Water gardens and cave shrines fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys, and fountains are the significant places to attract tourists. Also, currently, you have to see there are 21 rock paintings of Apsaras in Sigiriya rock. There is also the most stunning cave art after a short stretch up a spiral staircase, and then the view from the top is marvelous. In 1982, UNESCO designated Sigiriya as a World Heritage site.
According to the historical evidence, we could found that the Sigiriya rock plateau created from magma of an extinct volcano. It is about 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles. Sinhagira or Sigiriya designed as a form of a huge stone lion. Currently, Lion’s feet have survived, but the upper parts of the body have destroyed.
Archeological excavations have shown that the history of Sinhagiriya ran for more than 4000 years. Since the 3rd century, BC Sigiriya has used as a monastery. In eight centuries, it has modified as the royal palace. The early history of the Sigiriya palace and fortress has connected with several tragic events in between two royal brothers of Kashyapa and Mugalan. The throne has illegally taken by King Kashyapa. Based on that sad incident event was created between Kashyapa and Mugalan.
Mugalan was the legal heir of the throne and who escaped to India. Due to the fear of the attacks from Mugalan, Kashyapa decided to move his kingdom from Anuradhapura to Central parts of Sri Lanka. King Kashyapa constructed a royal palace on a massive rock, and he thought that this place was the most secure place to protect the attack comes from Mugalan.
King Kashyapa used the most advanced technologies to construct his royal palace. It has richly decorated with colorful frescos. After that, King Kashyapa had a battle with his brother’s army, and during that battle, he killed. After his death, Mugalan has destroyed the Sigiriya palace, and then again, Sigiriya became a Buddhist monastery. However, approximately a thousand years later, the monks also abandoned this place.
In 1831 Europeans accidentally discovered Sigiriya. Then historians and archaeologists paid their attention to Sigiriya. But in the 1980s, major excavations took place here. In the 5th century, archeologists discovered the royal palace and other ruins included in the surrounding area.
Top attractions in Sigiriya
You are lucky to be a visitor of Sigiriya because Sigiriya is one of the essential imaginative urban planning sites of the first millennium. This plan is a combination of human-made geometrical and natural forms of surroundings. On the west side of Sinhagiriya rock, you can see that there are ruins of the royal park, including water-retaining structures, some of which are working on today. On the southern side, you can see that there is a human-made reservoir. To the entrance purposes, there were five gates. The most elaborate western gate has reserved for the royals.
When we state regarding Sigiriya, first of all, you will remind the Sigiri murals. According to the Sigiriya site plan, we can see those frescoes from the western face of the rock, covering the area of 140 m long and 40 m high. However, most of the murals have lost forever.
Per the historical data, the frescoes are designed as the nude females and considered that they were either King Kashayapa’s wives and concubines or priestess. These unique ancient paintings show the female beauty to the world. However, archeological evidence says that these rock paintings are similar in the style of Ajantha in India. The frescoes of ladies have identified as Apsaras.
The history of this impressive frescoes is far back as the 5th century—these unique frescoes styles classified as in the Anuradhapura period. But the line and form of application of the paintings are different from Anuradhapura paintings. The frescoes are at their best in the late-afternoon light. The murals are still in good condition, and the color usage is in excellent condition. However, at the site, Photos are not allowed.
The Sigiriya derived its name because of this Lion’s Paws (Sinha-giri). It situated at the northern end of the rock. During the excavation in 1898, HCP Bell, the British archaeologist, found the two enormous lion paws in Sigiriya. You will have to climb a stairway that led between Lion’s legs and into its mouth to go to the top. However, in the 5th century, the Lion has disappeared, and now there are ruins for Lion’s Paws.
The Mirror Wall
The Mirror wall is one of the most striking features of Sigiriya, painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya. In the old days, it was appropriately polished. The king could see the reflection of himself through the mirror wall. The mirror wall made using some porcelain. But the writing on the mirror wall is banned for the protection of old poems.
The Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon, Mr. Senarath Paranavithana, has found about 685 verses written during the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries on the mirror wall. I think that the Sigiri graffiti is the most significant evidence because it shows the development of Sinhala language and script by demonstrating an old appreciation of art and beauty.
The most ancient legends are belonging to the 8th century. Those inscriptions provide evidence that more than a thousand years ago, Sigiriya was a tourist destination.
Pidurangala is a prominent rock, situated about 1km north of the Sigiriya. It offers fantastic views of Sigiriya. To reach the top of Pidurangala rock, you should have to hike up approximately 20 minutes. When you hike up, have to pass some small temples. Also, there are sculptured Buddha statues and monks’ statues. Most of the visitors come to this place to see the sunset. However, the sunrise is also beautiful to this place.
The Sigiri gardens belong to some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Those linked gardens divided into three, such as water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens. In the gardens, you can see the fantastic architectural monument and creative technical skills and technologies used in Sigiriya. The gardens located in the western part of the rock and consist of canals, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, and underground water pumps. During the rainy season, all the channels are filled with water and circulate water to the whole area of Sigiriya.
When you walk from the main entrance to Sigiriya rock, you have to go through the water garden. It can see in the central section of the western side. Here you can find symmetrical water gardens, including curved tanks, bathing pools, and little islands with pavilions.
The first garden consists of a plot surrounded by water. This garden built according to an ancient garden form. The second garden contains two pools set on either side of the path. Here you can see that two shallow serpentine streams lead to long, deep pools. Also, the summer palaces have built on the two large islands, located on either side of this water garden. Moreover, there are two more islands located beyond the north and south. The third garden situated on a higher level than the other two gardens. Here you can see that there is a large, octagonal pool.
In boulder gardens is closer to the rock, and you can see that there are several large boulders linked by winding pathways. This garden has spread from the northern slopes to the southern slopes of the hills located at the foot of Sigiriya rock. The Brick walls and the timber columns were the foundation of steps of boulders. In the ancient period, those pushed off from the top to exude the attacks come from enemies.
The natural hills at the base of the Sigiriya rock are the formation of the terraced gardens. The terraces rise from the pathways of the boulder garden to the staircases on the foundation. A limestone staircase forms the path through the terraced gardens. You can see that there is a covered path on the side of the rock, leading to the uppermost terrace where the lion staircase is situated.
Cobra Hood Cave
There is rocky protection, located in Boulder Garden. This cave got its name as Cobra Hood Cave because the overhang resembles a fully opened cobra’s hood. You Can pass this cave after descending the rock on your way to the south gate and the car park.
The Sigiriya museum is a decent place, provides an excellent overview, and explaining the cultural importance of Sigiriya. The museum is near the main ticket booth. No photographs are permitted inside.
It locates between the Dambulla and Habarana towns and about 175 km North-east of Colombo. Also 10 km from Kurunegala – Trincomalee route. If you plan to visit there by car, you should take the A1 or A6 way. If not, you can go by public transportation and should take a bus from Dambulla. There is a bus every 30 minutes starting from 7:00 AM. From Dambulla, the trip will take approximately 40 minutes to go to Sigiriya.
To reach the highest point of Sigiriya, one has to climb a staircase of 1250 steps. It will take approximately 2 hours to climb to bottom to top. Due to the high temperatures during the day, we prefer to visit the place in the morning. Don’t forget to wear a comfortable dress and take bottles of water and food with especially hats and sunglasses.
Sigiriya Ticket Price
There is a special requirement to buy tickets for every person, before entering to Sigiriya site
Every day, Sigiriya’s ancient site is open from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM. It means that the last entrance is at 5:30 PM