Rising dramatically from the central part of Sri Lanka, the enigmatic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s single most dramatic historical and engineering sight. Near-vertical walls soar to a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins evidence of an ancient civilisation in the island nation.
The main feature (Sigiriya) consists of a large rock formation called the Lion’s Rock, which is the remanded of an extinct volcano’s lava neck.
It stands 200 m tall with a flattened summit and dominates the scenery of the forested plains.
There is a magnificent staircase that penetrates the chest of a giant lion, which must be entered to reach the final ascent to the summit (hence the name Lion’s Rock).
Fantastic frescoes decorate large portions of Lion’s Rock, which offers picturesque examples into the culture and ways of life.
There is also the Mirror Wall, which is said to be a wall that was polished in order for the King to see his reflection as he walked alongside it. While Lion’s Rock served as the centre of this ancient
capital, other features of architectural and artistic brilliance encapsulate the area. Architects built an elegant citadel, which is close to three kilometres in length, one kilometre in width and is said to be one of the best examples of ancient urban planning known to this day.
The citadel consists of lavish gardens, brilliant fountains, ponds and man-made water tanks called waves.
There are three interconnected gardens, which consist of the Water, Boulder and Terraced Gardens. The three are distinct in style and said to be the earliest forms of garden landscaping.
If you have time for another attraction close by, the Sigiriya
is just about 1 km north of Lion’s Rock, and offers a comparable landscape view as far as the eye can see.
In addition, there is the Dambulla Cave Temple or the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which is only about 25 km from Sigiriya (this site is a must-see if you are in the area!).
There are around 80 known caves in the surrounding area, but the main attractions are spread throughout a few caves replete with exquisite artistry, statues and architectural design.
If you decide to visit here and Lion’s Rock in the same day, it would be recommended to visit the cave temples first, because there is so much to see between the connected temples and system of caves. The two towns are inter-
linked with transportation services and there are many agencies offering day-tours to both locations.
If you decide to visit independently, be sure to have some cash on you for transportation services and tickets purchases.
Furthermore, buses only run into the early evening (around 6 or 7 p.m.), so be sure to plan accordingly.
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