Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Pidurangala Rock
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, is known as Lion Rock, a private fortress and place of immense stature with a remarkably impressive design. The history of the Fortress reveals a captivating story whereby King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura forced his way to the throne after assassinating his father. Moggallana, the heir that was destined to the throne retreated to India and the King, fearing a revenge attack carved his royal palace and commanding fortress on the summit of this 200m (656ft) high rock for his own protection. Making an appearance in 495 A.D, Moggallana returned from his exile and conquered the King re-instating Anuradhapura as the capital. Sigiriya was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century before being mysteriously abandoned.
Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Walk through the landscaped royal gardens, towards the base of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. These elegantly landscaped gardens, said to be one of the oldest in the world, are dotted with sparkling ponds, pretty water features, cascading fountains, meandering pathways and frescos in the Cobra Hood Cave, a rocky ledge in the shape of a cobra’s hood. The gardens reveal a trio of distinct forms including terraced gardens, cave and boulder gardens and water gardens. A 1200 step climb leads to the Fortress above. On the climb up, a short detour leads to the magnificent fresco gallery with paintings of the king’s maids in waiting and women of the royal court draping flowers on mere mortals. The Mirror Wall displays ancient transcripts that closely match the modern-day Sinhalese language (photography is not allowed here) and was polished to perfection as the king often posed and preened himself as he walked past it. Stop at the caves and platforms on the way up for stunning views and if you do not wish to climb to the top, you can stay in the charming gardens and tour the base of the rock. Climb up late afternoon for magnificent sunset views.
Climb Pidurangala Rock and delight in spectacular views at sunrise
If you are up for an intrepid adventure, then this magnificent huge rock formation is a challenge worth taking on. Pidurangala Rock once inhabited by monks and used as a meditative retreat is comprised of little caves and cells dotted on a hill. A serene Buddhist temple resides at the base of the Rock and as you climb, observe a large reclining Buddha statue built of bricks in a sheltered cave. The climb up is daunting, as you scale boulders and dense foliage, but the reward is the spectacular views at the top and the cherry on top is the mighty Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the distance.