Sigiriya Lion Rock: Things You Need to Know

Sigiriya Lion Rock: Things You Need to Know

Sigiriya Lion Rock offers a great adventure on the ancient life in the middle of the Sigiriya forest. If you like to get an idea on the ancient times, it is the exact place to visit in Sigiriya. Let’s start with the Sigiriya Lion Rock: Things You Need to Know!

Sigiriya Lion Rock: Things You Need to Know

Lion Rock is one of the most remarkable place to visit in Sigiriya. This rock is 200 m high and surrounded by the forest as far as the eye can see. Buddhist monks has built a monastery complex on top of the Sigiriya Lion Rock and lived there until the King Kasyapa has decided to built a fortress here instead in the 5th century. The fortress was built in 7 years, from 477 to 485 AD.

King Kasyapa selected the Sigiriya Lion Rock to built his royal residence since he was afraid of potential attacks from his brother Mugalan, the rightful heir of the throne. So, this fortress has became the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom until Kasyapa was defeated in 495 AD by Mugalan.

Later on the rock was converted into Buddhist monastery by Mugalan and used until 12th – 13th century. After that Sigiriya Lion Rock was completely abandoned and forgotten.

The British Army Major Jonathan Forbes discovered the Sigiriya Lion Rock in 1831 once he was riding through Sri Lanka. However, the archeologists have started their researches decades later in this area. In 1982, Sigiriya Lion Rock became an UNESCO World Heritage Site as it represents one of the best ancient urban planning.

What are the highlights of the Sigiriya Lion Rock?

The Sigiriya Lion Rock site includes the ruins of a palace located on the top of the rock, a mid-level terrace containing the Lion Gate and the Mirror Wall followed by the frescoes, as well as the water gardens and impressive hydraulic system below the rock.

The frescoes depict partly preserved women figures. There is an evidence that the wall with the frescoes were originally 140 m long and 40 m high. However, only a small portion of it remained preserved till today. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take a photo of the frescoes. You should not even try it as this is a serious offense.

The Mirror Wall is a highly polished wall in the Sigiriya Lion Rock to enable King Kasyapa to see his reflection while walking by. There is also a graffiti on the Mirror Wall, which includes inscriptions of the thoughts of visitors on the frescoes. This graffiti is important as it depicts the development of the Sinhala language.

How to reach the summit of the Sigiriya Lion Rock?

Once you pass the ticket control, you will first see the stunning water gardens. In order to reach the summit of the rock, you need to climb overall 1200 steps, separated into different stairs up to the summit. We must admit that it is a challenging climb but not impossible.

Once you climbed the half way up to mid-level terrace, you will see a gateway in the shape of a huge lion, which leads to the last stairs to the top. The name of the Sigiriya Lion Rock comes from this lion shaped gateway.

If you are afraid of height, it might be a bit scary in the last stair after the Lion Gate due to the metal stair attached from one side to the rock and wind along the climb. However, it is not impossible to do. Although Didem is afraid of height, she was able to do it. It just took longer. 😄

How long does it take to climb the rock?

As there are 1200 steps until the top of the Sigiriya Lion Rock, it is quite challenging climb. It took around 45 min for us to climb these steps.

When is the best time to visit the rock?

We would recommend you to visit the rock early in the morning or late in the afternoon in order to avoid extreme temperatures. During the day, the temperature goes up to ~35 degrees Celsius. Our favorite visiting time was the sunset. So we would recommend you to start climbing around 16:00 – 16:30 and spend the sunset at the top with an amazing view of the forest.

Normally, you would initially visit the top of the rock and then see the frescoes on the way down. However, if you are going for the sunset to the Sigiriya Lion Rock, we would recommend you to see the frescoes first. Otherwise, once you go down, time will be late and there will be not so much light to see the frescoes.

How much does it cost to visit Sigiriya Lion Rock?

The entrance to the Sigiriya Lion Rock costs LKR 11.304 (~EUR 35) per person for the tourists. With this ticket, you can see the water gardens, palace on top of the rock, mirror wall and frescoes. The ticket control is just before entering the water gardens.

Is Sigiriya Lion Rock worth visiting?

As the entrance ticket is considerably expensive to the Sigiriya Lion Rock, you might think whether it worths to visit. We truly think that it was a great decision to visit this rock. The gardens, frescoes and the ruins of the palace on top of the rock including the moat were breathtaking. It gives you an impression on the great times of Sigiriya fortress. It is very much surprising how far people have built on top of a rock in the times of limited resources. Also the frescoes were fascinating with their colors, women figure illustrations, which are showing the dresses and jewelries from the ancient times, depicting presumably a ceremony.

What you should wear or take with you for the Sigiriya Lion Rock?

As the climb is challenging and gets definitely sweaty, you should take water with you. There are no options to buy some water after the ticket office. So better bring it from your hotel.

You should be aware of that flying drone is not an option in the Sigiriya Lion Rock. Due to the fact that the bees who are living in the rock gets angry with the noise of the drone. This is also a punishable offense.

Our article for Sigiriya Lion Rock: Things You Need To Know ends here. We wish you an enjoyable and safe trip! 🙂

Also read: The Best Place to Visit in Sigiriya: Pidurangala Rock, The Ultimate Guide to See Sri Lanka: 3-Weeks Itinerary, Dambulla Cave Temple: The Best Place to See in Dambulla

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