If you’re a traveller, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the “Wonders of the World.” There are seven wonders in the world, but according to Sri Lankans, there are 8. The 8th wonder of the world is in Sri Lanka, and it is Sigiriya Rock. It is placed within the so-called Cultural Triangle in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy are the main three cities in the triangle.
Built-in the 5th century by King Kasyapa, who fled after a failed attempt to kill his own father to take over the crown. He found the rock and built his castle to protect himself from invaders. Since the 3rd century, BC Sigirya served as a monastery, and after the death of King Kasyapa, it was once again used as a monastery before being abandoned in the 14th century.
The name “Sigiriya” derived from the term “Sihagiri,” which means Lion Rock. The name was given because of the Lion claws, which were carved from the rock to make the entrance to the palace. In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British army while returning from a trip to Polonnaruwa rediscovered Sigiriya, and there are many archaeologists who have shown great interest in this man-made wonder.
Sigiriya Lion Rock and Sigiriya Water Garden have been an ancient engineering marvel that attracts not only tourists but professionals who like to see the wonder with their own eyes. First of all, let’s see how you can get to Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.
How to get to Sigiriya in Sri Lanka
Situated 165kms away from Colombo, Sigiriya belongs to the North Central province. If you’re a budget traveller, it’s a bit of a hassle getting here.
The most convenient way of getting here is by vehicle. It’s easier because there are no direct busses or trains to Sigiriya. It will be a 3-4 hour drive and would probably cost LKR 10,000 in an Uber or a local cab.
There are also air taxis that operate from the Airport to Sigiriya. It will take only 30 minutes, and you can also have a beautiful view of Sigiriya from the sky. But, it comes with a hefty price tag which approximately cost LKR 30,000.
Sigiriya By Train
For budget travellers, it’s going to be a bit of a hassle to get here. First, the closest train station to Sigiriya is 15kms away. There is only one train scheduled every day, and it takes about 5 hours to get to the Habarana train station from Colombo. The train leaves early morning from Colombo, and it will cost you approximately LKR 600 for the ticket.
Sigiriya By Bus
From Colombo, you have three bus routes which you can take in order to get to Dambulla. Route No 15 (Colombo-Anuradhapura), Route No 48 (Colombo-Kaduruwela) or Route No 49 (Colombo-Trincomalee). It’s easy to catch these buses since it is operated through the day.
From Dambulla, there is a bus that goes straight to Sigiriya, and it will take about 45 minutes and cost you LKR 50. You could also take a tuk-tuk from Dambulla, which costs you about LKR 1200.
Many tourists travel from Kandy to Sigiriya. In that case, you can take the bus to Dambulla from Kandy and then another bus to Sigiriya. It will take about 2.5 hours to get to Dambulla from Kandy, and it will cost you approximately LKR 150. This could be a perfect day trip if you are staying in Kandy.
Places to see in Sigiriya
Sigiriya Lion Rock
The entrance to the castle is through the lion rock. Back then, this was a structure where people would have to enter the jaws of the lion to enter the city within. Unfortunately, the rock has fallen apart, and all that’s left are the huge paws of the lion sculpture.
The significance of engineering and architectural skills have proven through the fact that the Lion Rock is built on a huge rock standing around 200 meters from the ground level.
Also, remember there is a hefty entrance fee, it will cost you about $30 if you’re a foreigner. Locals get it cheaper, and foreigners from SAARC countries get a 50% rebate of the price.
Sigiriya Water Garden
While walking to the entrance of the Lion Rock, you walk through a beautiful lawn which included fountains, ponds, bridges with water pumps under them. It has considered as one of the oldest topographic gardens in the world which included its very own hydraulic system to power the pumps.
During the monsoon season, the garden has filled with water, and it circulates around the area. These fountains date back to the 5th century, and it considered one of the oldest.
The western side of the Sigiriya Rock has covered with frescos. It has believed that these drawn during the reign of King Kasyapa. All the drawings, which have survived so far, are of nude women in vibrant colours. It could be King’s maids or even his wives.
These murals supposed to cover the whole rock, but through the years, many of them destroyed due to various reasons. The few that survived and heavily guarded from all visitors.
On the western side of Sigiriya, you would find an orange shaded wall adjacent to the rock surface. It has believed that, during the reign of King Kasyapa, this wall had a highly polished surface that would reflect anything that walks by it. Back then, it was close to 200 meters long, and it so shiny that it even reflected the frescos on the rock surface. The mirror wall was intact for more than 15 centuries, and it is indeed another example of the sheer brilliance of craftsmanship back in the day.
Dambulla cave temple
It has called “Jumbukola Viharaya” in the “Mahavansa,” the principle Pali Chronicle of Sri Lanka. These caves were occupied by Buddhist hermits in the early days. There are four caves all together, and the sculptures and drawings go back to First-century A.C.
Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya
Pidurangala Rock stands very close to Sigiriya. Once you make it to the top, you will be assured with some stunning views of the whole area, including the picturesque Lion Rock. It is best to do the climb in the morning so that you can enjoy the sunrise.
Many travellers hike up to see the sunrise on top of Pidurangala Rock and then climb up Sigiriya to witness the sunset. The hike will take about half an hour, and there is an entrance fee at the base, which will cost you LKR 600.
Sigiriya should definitely be in your travel itinerary. Apart from Lion Rock and all it’s wonderful, there isn’t much to do in this area so you might as well make a day trip while staying in Kandy or even Colombo.