Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
February 11, 2015 admin 0 Comments
This ancient palace is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. It is located at the heart of the country, in the Central Province near the city of Dambulla. The palace sits atop a towering pillar of rock, the plug of a long extinct volcano, that is nearly 200 m high. This rock dominates the landscape and is doubtless one of the main reasons why this site was chosen by King Kasyapa for his capital city in the 5th Century. Sigiriya means, ‘the lion rock’. It is named after a huge gateway in the shape of a lion. This gateway is found half way up the rocky pinnacle. Many vibrant pictures adorn the rock faces and on and around the massive outcrop and the remains of the 5th Century capital are laid out on and round it. The town was abandoned after the reign of King Kasyapa came to an end, and the palace was later used by Buddhist monks until the 14th Century. This it the most visited site in Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been recognised as one of the most important extant examples of ancient urban planning.
Getting to Sigiriya
There is a regular bus service to Sigiriya from the city of Dambulla. The buses run daily, every half an hour between 6.30am and 6pm and the fare is around 40 LKR. You can also travel by tuk tuk from Dambulla, which will cost in the region of 800-1000 LKR. The site is around 25 km from the city. It is also possible to combine a trip here with trips to other Sri Lankan heritage sites within the triangle formed by Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. You can reach Dambulla by bus from other major Sri Lankan towns and cities.
The charge for foreign tourists to enter the site and the museum is $30. If you wish to employ a local guide to show you around, there are many people offering their services (they can be rather persistent) within the pay area. These guides can be useful for insider knowledge but it is perfectly possible to find everything for yourself too. Guides will usually charge you somewhere in the region of $15-25 and should last 3-4 hours. If you don’t want their services, say no firmly and politely.
There are many fascinating things to see and do at Sigiriya. Be sure to climb up the staircase through the Lion Gatehouse to reach the Sky Palace. See the ‘mirror wall’ which is now stained an orangey colour but was once a brilliant, reflective white. Be sure not to miss the ancient graffiti and the famous Sigiriya Frescoes. Around the central rock, take the time to visit the lovely gardens, ponds, boulders, caves and terraces and to see the ramparts and moats that once protected this magical place.
Sigiriya is a fantastical place with an amazing history stretching right back to prehistoric times. This is an awe-inspiring place and without a doubt it should be included in any visit to Sri Lanka.