Monday, October 24, 2016

Travellogue : Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Thanks for your lovely comments on my previous post.
I was vacationing in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka and Thailand earlier of this month.
Our main trip was to Bangkok, Thailand, we had an opportunity to stay for three days in Sri Lanka. It was difficult to choose the places in Sri Lanka, as everything seemed beautiful, important, and we also had to consider distance from Colombo(where we our flight landed). Finally we zeroed on Kandy, Sigiriya and Dambulla caves. Last two are closely located, so you can cover both the places in one day.

Sigiriya
We had booked taxi from Kangaroo Cabs from Colombo from India. As soon as we landed, we hopped on to this taxi and drove to Kandy first.

After exploring the Kandy city, we had a comfortable stay for a night  in OZO Kandy. Kids were so disappointed for our short stay here and didn't want to leave at all. We had heavy breakfast and started to Dambulla Caves at 7:45 AM the next day.

Driving in Sri Lanka is not that tough as roads are well maintained. Unfortunately the driver was very clueless of the roads and routes( forgive us Dilshaan), luckily we had offline google map of Sri Lanka and guided him well all the way.

After a tiring hike at Dambulla Caves, we started to Sigiriya around mid after noon. We were not sure of having lunch and more over there aren't much options for vegetarians like us here. We stopped by a fruit shop and had stomach full of fruits, cucumber and raw mango. I got to taste the dragon fruit which is scarcely available in India.

Although Sigiriya rock was visible from long distance, we had tough time in finding the entrance. Our driver, who while conversing with us in broken English said that last time he visited that place was when he was a kid but he was very confident of finding the entrance. After going round and round, we decided to be wise and asked for the Foreigners entry(there is other options for the locals)

The entry is free for the locals, and we foreigners have to pay a hefty ticket price. But fortunately, there is a discount for the SAARC countries and we ended up paying 2000 SLR for each one of us. You need to also show your passport at the entrance.

It looked very challenging to climb a 200 meters enormous rock on a hot afternoon but don't let it deter you. Most of the people prefer to either morning or late after noon to climb, and it's one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka. When you enter you will not miss the beautifully landscaped gardens. On climbing further you will come across the boulder gardens and the terraced gardens. There are many little caves here whose walls were once adorned with beautiful frescoes.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

According to Sri Lankan History, this site was selected by King Kasyapa for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. You can still see the remains on top of the rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
The steps are narrow and you need a lot of energy and water to reach the top.

While you are climbing, just before you reach the Lions Staircase, there is a mirror wall onto your left. Originally, this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself on it. Now you can see various inscriptions on it, written by visitors both old and new. Few security guards were guarding it, preventing it from further damage.  At the same point you can take few spiral steps upward to see beautiful wall murals/frescoes. Unfortunately we were not allowed to click photos here.

After you have climbed half of the steps, you can see a small plateau, there is a gateway in the form of an enormous lion.
Sigiriya

Further climb is the most challenging part of the climb and the stretch will definitely give you knee pain in the end. We have to carefully climb up a narrow steel stair case on the exposed side of the rock to the summit. You will also  see the grooves carved into the rock surface by the ancient builders to provide the footing for the original staircase that led to the top.

Sigiriya


After the ascent, you can see forests every where around the rock. There were couple of ponds(belonged to the palace) on top which gets full in the rainy season. The usual pictures that we see over the internet are taken in the rainy season where this rocks looks out standing among the greenery that surrounds it. When we visited the ponds were almost dry.

After reaching the summit, and admiring a palace at such a height we stayed there for half an hour, and if you have patience you can go to each and every corner of this palace.

Sigiriya

While we finished the descent, we bought few liters of cold water quench our thirst and refreshed ourselves at the rest room. There are few shops selling the souvenirs but do bargain hard before you decide to buy something.


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