Holidays to Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

This dramatic ancient rock fortress is often referred to by locals as the eighth wonder of the world, thanks to its baffling architecture. Its unique construction and fascinating history led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The fort was built from the magma of an extinct volcano, under the order of King Kasyapa who ruled during 477-495 AD. He selected the site for his new capital, and legend has it that its towering appearance once made it look as though it were floating up in the clouds. The rock’s sides are painted with semi-naked nymphs, adding to the ethereal appearance, and spellbinding mists still wrap the forests in the early mornings.

Sigiriya is also referred to as ‘lion rock’, thanks to a massive gateway in the form of an enormous lion that sits about halfway up the side of the rock face and once guarded the entrance to the innermost sanctum. The sculpted stone paws that flank the entrance under which the lion’s head sat can still be seen today, and you walk through them rather dramatically as you step inside.

The ruins of a palace are located at the rock’s flat top, there’s a terrace at the mid-level that is accessible via a stretch of stairs up the rock’s exterior, and there are lower palaces behind the gardens at its bottom, where moats and ramparts protected it from intruders. The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world and are divided into three distinct forms; water garden, cave and boulder garden, and terraced gardens.

After King Kasyapa died, Sigiriya was abandoned as the capital and the Royal Palace instead became a religious ground used as a Buddhist monastery. Evidence suggests that rock shelters and caves in the area surrounding Sigiriya were also occupied by Buddhist monks as far back as the 3rd century BC, and the earliest evidence of human habitation is to the east at the Aligala rock shelter, which shows signs of having been occupied almost 5,000 years ago during the Mesolithic Period.

Highlights

  • Watch as spellbinding mists shroud the rock in the early morning

  • Enter the ancient fortress through perfectly sculpted stone lion’s paws

  • Relax and reflect in the oldest landscaped gardens in the world

Rebecca
Travel Designer
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I will never forget the moment that we came across a huge herd of 50 elephants in Minneriya National Park. They ran for cover when there was a sudden downpour, and I got soaked but didn’t care! I love Sri Lanka for its diversity, great food, culture, wildlife and history – and it’s still very much undeveloped.

Sigiriya trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas that include Sigiriya. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777

Things to do in Sigiriya

Here are some of the things you can do in Sigiriya. When you've chosen your favourite experiences, just give our Travel Designers a call and they'll put a trip together for you. If you need help choosing an experience, or if you want to learn more about it, our Travel Designers will be more than happy to talk to you. Just call them on: 020 3510 5777

Map of Sigiriya