Sigiriya is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, located in the central province of Sri Lanka, about 3 hours’ drive away from Colombo and Negombo. Things to do in Sigiriya focus on the most critical feature of the place: the Sigiriya rock fortress. In addition to conquering the fortress, Pidurangala – another picturesque rock temple adjacent to Sigiriya rock – too awaits you to summit it.
The Sigiriya rock fortress is the remnant of an extravagant citadel built by King Kasyapa to protect himself and his entourage from his brother, who was hunting him down. Although a fortress, it could be dubbed a palace, for protected by two moats and three ramparts is a construction that constitutes of lavish gardens, pavilions, palaces and numerous ponds, each with an amazing view. Adorning the outer walls are colourful illustrations of celestial females, each in a different pose, carrying flowers and other delicacies. These are now known as “Sigiriya frescos”, and is a key attraction as well as a conservation point. Halfway through the rock modifications, stands a stone lion, which marks the entrance to the upper levels of the fortress. It is this, “Sinha”, meaning “lion that gives the rock its name.
Moving along about 2km from the rock fortress is another rock, this one, covered in lush greenery, dubbed “Pidurangala”, which has close historical links to Sigiriya. Although Pidurangala is often pushed to the back in the view of glorious Sigiriya, it is religiously important. Pidurangala is home to a forest monastery, where monks are said to have lived and meditated for thousands of years in the caves that are scattered across the rock. According to historical records, it is King Kasyapa – the builder of Sigiriya – who refurbished the monastery and relocated the monks in the area to Pidurangala.
Places to rest, sleep and have a bite are a plenty around Sigiriya, ranging from a tiny kadé or shop selling localized beverages such as water of boiled herbs to renowned hotels with a view such as Hotel Sigiriya. One is likely to receive royal treatment when visiting the royal hideaway of one of Sri Lanka’s least celebrated Kings.
Fritzjames Stephen is a travel writer, who writes content based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life.