The 200 metre high Lions Rock at the heart of Sigiriya is an imposing feature in the local landscape. The site is home to more than 6,000 years of history. Caves around the rock contain evidence of monasteries and prehistoric settlements. The ruins of city that exist today were built by king Kashyapa in the 5th century.
The Path to the top
The path to the king’s palace at the top of the Lions Rock will draw you through several unique spaces.
Stroll through the water gardens to reach the entrance of the boulder gardens and caves.
Climb the spiral staircase up the cliff face to reach a cave of ancient paintings and the graffiti covered mirror wall.
Beyond the mirror wall are the stone claws of a lion perched either side of a gateway leading to the kings ‘Palace in the Sky’.
Sigiriya has some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens start at the moat which surrounds the site. The water gardens are laid out in a symmetrical grid. The ponds divided by walkways.
A network of underground of pipes links the ponds. The ponds connect to the moat and an ornamental lake.
The elegant ponds of the water garden direct your footsteps to the boulder garden at the base of Lion Rock.
The change in terrain as you enter the boulder garden signals that you have begun your assent to the top of Lion Rock. The natural rock formations in the garden are a complete change from the sleek man-made symmetry of the water gardens.
Hidden amongst the boulders are a series of caves. Artifacts have been found the caves which date back to prehistoric times.
Monasteries have existed at Sigiriya both before and after the king built his palace. The remains of monastic occupation have been found in the caves and on top of the boulders in the form of shrines and cave paintings.
At the top of the boulder garden lies the entrance to the mirror wall and the cave of frescoes.
The gracefully curving mirror wall was once a highly polished surface that reflected the images of all who passed by.
There are more than 1000 hand written poems etched into the mirror wall. The writing on the wall created by visitors to Sigiriya from the 7th to the 14th centuries.
The walkway past the mirror wall leads to a spiral staircase and the beautiful paintings in the cave above.
The brightly coloured frescoes painted on the plastered walls in the cave above depict series of women in various poses. All of the women are painted from the waist up.
An inscription on the mirror wall says that 500 women were pictured in the cave. Many of the paintings have been lost to crumbling plaster or faded by the sun.
Beyond the cave lies a terraced garden leading to the gate of Lion’s Rock.
The entrance to Lion’s Rock is guarded by a lion carved in stone. His enormous paws protect the stairs that lead to the top of the rock.
Climb the steep and winding stairs to the top. The remains of the king’s ‘Palace in the Sky’ await.
Palace in the sky
The outline of the magnificent palace can still be seen. Terraced spaces and geometrically laid out walls make it easy picture the scale of the dwelling that was here.
It is not hard to see why a king would choose to build his palace on top of the rock. The 360 degree vista of the surrounding countryside is stunning. Anyone approaching would be visible for miles.
The degree of difficulty involved in attacking the palace makes the location a natural fortress.
The Palace of Sigiriya was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982.
Arriving in Sri Lanka
You will need to apply for a visa to enter Sri Lanka before leaving home. Applications made online take a few days to process.
I flew into Colombo from Singapore. I arranged a driver and a car to meet me at the airport and take me to the hotel.
Getting to Sigiriya
I hired a driver and a car from a tour company to take me from Colombo to Sigiriya.