From amazing history, to panoramic views, to inconceivable feats of engineering…Sigiriya has it all! Built in the 5th Century by King Kashyapa the fortress complex comprises of intricate water and boulder gardens found at the base of the rock, bright frescos, the Mirror Wall and the Lion Gate half way up the structure, and the remains of an immense palace perched high on top of the rock 200m above the surrounding plains.
Legend has it that King Kashyapa usurped power from his father and fled the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura to the more secure base of Sigiriya, where he ruled for 18 years before his brother, in turn, seize back power. This remarkable complex of gardens, frescos and ruins remains amazingly well preserved, with many arguing it to be the 8th Ancient Wonder of the World (and I would have to agree with them)!
Known as the ‘Playboy King’, King Kashyapa allegedly housed over 500 harem women in Sigiriya, many of whom were depicted in the bright frescos around the walls of the rock. Unfortunately only a few of the paintings remain, as the monks who lived in the complex after the end of King Kashyapa’s reign took offence and destroyed many. Those that do remain however are incredibly detailed and vibrant: an impressive feat considering they are over 16 centuries old!
With unbelievably advanced hydraulic systems (some of which still work today) and inconceivable engineering skill this National Heritage site is just mind blowing…how they built this without electricity or modern engineering I will never understand!
I would highly recommend tackling the climb as early as you can face it in the morning! I was scaling the sides by 7.30 and was only the second person to the top (a very keen Italian beat me to it)! Your views are therefore undisturbed by crowds, the staircases are empty and it’s by far the coolest time of the day. Remember to bring plenty of water (you’ll need it at any time of the day), comfortable shoes, a fully charged camera and maybe have a quick stretch before you start too (there are a lot of stair)!
Hornets’ nests can be found at the top of the rock, and have been known to attack visitors if provoked. You can minimise this risk by climbing early before the hornets are fully active (around lunch time), as well as avoiding creating lots of noise which may disturb them. Special protective clothing is given out if they start become menacing, which visitors can wear for the last section of the climb to ensure they are not stung. Do not let them put you off however, as the views, paintings and history are all unbelievable, and well worth the effort!
Even if you cannot make the climb, Sigiriya is well worth visiting for the pleasure gardens and the view the from the bottom. To talk about incorporating Sigiriya into your Sri Lanka holiday with Experience Travel, please contact us today.