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Updated by Joanna James on Aug 13, 2018
Headline for 8 things to know before visiting Sigiriya – The royal fortress that marvels the world
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8 things to know before visiting Sigiriya – The royal fortress that marvels the world

The majestic Sigiriya, which is meant 'Lion's rock' stands nearly 660 feet tall and is considered one of the marvels of the world for its historical and archaeological significance. It's a world heritage and is listed amongst the top places to visit in Sri Lanka. Here are 8 things that you should know before visiting Sigiriya.

1

The legendary past of Sigiriya, the rock

Archaeologists believe that the rock was formed as a result of an old volcanic eruption. And its internal features show that it would've been a monastery with meditating monks who were moved during Kashyapa's reign.

According to the historical chronicle 'Chulavamsa', Prince 'Kashyapa' moved his palace to Sigiriya as he feared vengeance from his half-brother for killing their father, 'Dhatusena'. However, after he perished at war, the fortress was once again made into a monastery.

Stories of Sigiriya's origins are further elaborated and traced to other epics such as 'Ramayana' and the 'Ravana Watha', which are a treat for those interested in history and fantasy.

2

Timing is key to everything

It takes around an hour to climb Sigiriya but timing varies depending on pit stops and the number of visitors. The site opens at around 7 am and its best to get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds as well as the heat.

It's good if weekends and public holidays can be avoided. January-April / July-September would be pretty safe months to visit and promises good weather conditions.

In order to be better prepared for what's in store around Sigiriya, its best to pre-book a hotel in Sigiriya itself to make the best of your trip. Sigiriya Jungles is just around the corner and provides a scenic view of Sigiriya rock. It takes around 20 minutes to get to the fortress making it an ideal location to book in.

3

Stick to the basics and follow the rules

The entrance fee to the rock is around $30 for visiting tourists. The signs and pathways are clearly shown and a guidebook may provide additional detail. There is a museum in the vicinity as well. There are 1200 steps that lead the way to the summit. Dress comfortably, wear proper footwear and take plenty of water. In order to preserve its contents, photographs are not allowed at certain points. Clearly look for signs or ask a guard. Watch out for wasps, monkeys, and stray dogs. It's best to leave nature to itself.

4

Entering Sigiriya through the Lion's Paw

Two massive stone paws of a lion embellish the entrance to the palace. Although the entry was used to be through the mouth of a lion, it collapsed over time leaving only the paws to be visible to date.

5

The much talked about Frescoes

One of the most talked about facet of the grandiose rock is its colourful paintings located in the 'Cobra Hood Cave' of beautiful women holding flowers. It is said that over 500 paintings of these maidens once adorned the rock. Sadly, only a few remain and are strictly protected. The identities of these maidens are not known. It is perceived that they might have been the king's maidens or women involved in religious activities.

6

The Mirror Wall

The mirror wall is made of brick and polished white plaster. The walls are said to have been polished so hard that the king could view himself as he passes through. Numerous individuals who visited the rock have penned down poems and inscriptions on the wall. Some of which is believed to be from as far as the 8th century.

7

The ruins, gardens, and view from above

Once you're at the peak of the rock, the view gives a clear indication of its rich past. The 1.5 hectares consist of building foundations, terraces, and gardens. Further, there's a huge pool which is made by cutting into the rock itself. Smaller pools are made of brick. The view is spectacular and the climb is worth the sweat.

8

The garden around the rock

Sigiriya fortress is surrounded by lush gardens that are believed to be one of the oldest in the world. The garden is lined up in many different forms. There are water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens of which some are still functional.

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