On our second leg of our Sri Lankan adventure we based ourselves in Sigiriya. Sigiriya was once a Singhalese capital (Sri Lanka is home to both Singhalese and Tamil people, predominantly the former) but these days its main attraction is a gigantic ancient rock.
It was on this rock in the 5th century that a King named King Kasyapa built his palace. He feared invasion so wanted his complex to be impenetrable, and so what better place to build it than up in the clouds on top of this rock? His palace is said to have been grand and he covered the sides of the rock with beautiful frescoes. On a small plateau near the top he carved out a gateway in the form of a massive lion and it is said that you would climb through the mouth of this lion to reach the pinnacle – can you imagine?! The actual name, ‘Sihagiri’ is derived from this and means the ‘Lion Rock’. Unfortunately much of the lion (apart from the paws which still look magnificent) and the Royal Palace are no more to be seen. The capital and the palace were abandoned soon after the King’s death and the site was used as a Buddhist monastery for some time after this.
Just the thought of the splendour of this kingdom and the view at the top are worth the trek up. Now when I say trek – don’t be scared! It may have been a trek for unfit me, but for most it’s probably painless. We started really early, at around 7:30am to beat the day heat but don’t be fooled I was still sweating buckets and stopping every few meters to catch my breath. Despite all of this we had a really fun time. The ‘hike’ itself involves initially walking up steps that are carved out of stone, until you finally get to the metal frame which is bolted onto the rock itself. It takes about an hour if you’re doing it leisurely. About halfway up there is a little detour towards an ancient cave where there are still some amazing murals on the wall (the King’s ancient graffiti?!). Once we got up to the top, everyone seemed to be very chilled out, just standing around in the misty morning air, contemplating life.
We made our way back down after about half an hour, stopping to chat with a few people who were on their way up. It was getting hot by this time so it’s definitely a good idea to go as early as possible. After heading back to the hotel we freshened up to get ready for the next adventure which we due to go on, just a couple of hours later: the elephant safari!
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