I’d never heard about Sigiriya Rock before arriving in Sri Lanka, but I was enchanted by the photos. It’s a palace/ fortress built on the magma chamber of an extinct volcano. Imagine Macchu Pichu without the mountains in the background as your almost there. Why it’s not more famous is anyone’s guess (though decades of civil war has probably got something to do with it).

The nearest town to Sigiriya Rock is Sigiriya (It is around 18 km away from Dambulla, a bigger town). I call it a town, but it’s more like a row of restaurants and shops that line the street. Still, there are lots of interesting things to do around Sigiriya (like taking a safari to see elephants, cycling around the villages, climbing the Pidurangala Rock and visiting the palace on Sigiriya Rock). We’d come for Sigiriya Rock, well and the safari… 🙂

We woke up early. The palace opens at 7 am and we wanted to be one of the first visitors through the gates. It’s less than 1,5 km walk from our place to the entrance to Sigiriya. The path, a dark red road that cuts through the vegetation, runs parallel to a moat that surrounds the gardens. It was a nice walk under the warm rays of the early morning sun.We bought tickets at the reception desk (they cost USD 30 per person. It was 4,350 SL rupees).

The first thing we saw as we entered the palace grounds were the huge landscaped gardens. Having a big garden rocks. We followed the path through the gardens to the stairs leading up to the rock. Our first stop were the caves where the frescoes are painted. We climbed a winding staircase 15 meters up into the air to reach the caves. The frescoes are amazing. From here there’s a second set of steps leading to the summit.

After the frescoes, we saw the Lion Gate. These stairs are carved in the shape of a lion’s head. On either side of the entrance are the lion’s enormous paws. According to the guide the staircase went through the lion’s mouth. Unfortunately the head is missing. I kind of wish it was still there. It’s not quite the same climbing stairs between the lion’s feet. We saw some pretty funny drawings of what it would have looked like at the Sigiriya museum (It is within the complex too).

The final set of step up Sigiriya Rock are steep. I’m sure they are safe, but sometimes it didn’t feel like it. You can still see the original steps cut into the side of the hill. They are tiny. There was an instant feeling of safety as I stepped off the metal stairs onto the top of the rock. It was then that I looked up and got my first proper look at the palace. It was HUGE.

The Palace was built in a series of terraces. Only the foundation stones of the original palace remain. You can see the outline of the buildings, passageways and bathhouses that made up the palace. I spent 40 minutes exploring the palace. Well, mostly just sitting down and taking in the view over the valley and the mist hanging low over the hills in the distance and not standing too close to the edge.

It gets hot on the top as the sun rises. We headed back to the entrance of Sigiriya Rock at around 9. It was the perfect time to leave. There were people talking loudly next to the “be quiet wasps” by the foot of the Lion Stairs. We also saw a huge queue of people waiting to climb the winding stairs that led to the frescoes as we descended.

On the way out we visited the Sigiriya Museum. It turned out to be a great way to end our visit. The museum added a lot of context to our visit. There’s a cool 3D model of the rock and an architectural 3D fly through video. It was a nice touch and helped visitors imagine what Sigiriya Rock would have looked like centuries ago (I tried to find a video of it on Youtube for the article, but no luck).

Started a bit early today. Woke up at 6:30 to climb Sigiriya Rock. The rock towers over the surrounding countryside. On top of the rock is a palace that was built in the 5th century. The view from the top was amazing. You could see to the horizon in every direction. Who wouldn't want to have a palace with a view like this? If you visit Sigiriya Ancient City, besides climbing the rock, you can also explore the gardens, the caves, where you can admire the Fresco paintings, and visit the Sigiriya Museum. You can easily spend half day here. The entrance fee is USD 30 (4,350 rupees). The place opens at 7 am. It's best to arrive early before the crowds come and the sun gets hot. #SriLanka #Sigiriya #SigiriyaRock #LionRock #Travel #Travelling #GirlsWhoTravel #TravelGram #DarlingEscapes #LoveToTravel #TravelDiary #ViewFromTheTop #SimplyAdventure #ABMTravelbug #WeAreTravelGirls #DameTraveler #FlashesofDelight #OpenMyWorld #WheretoFindMe #MyTinyAtlas #BeautifulDestinations #Blogger

A photo posted by Firsta – Indonesian (@hellofirsta) on

When researching Sigiriya Rock, we read quite a lot of reviews online about climbing Pidurangala Rock. A lot of the reviews suggested climbing Pidurangala instead of Sigiriya. They say it’s the same experience, just a lot cheaper (entrance fee to Pidurangala Rock is 500 SL rupees). We didn’t climb Pidurangala so we can’t compare the experience. Yet…

I don’t think you can replace a visit to Sigiriya with Pidurangala. The rock is a viewpoint, albeit a very good one. There are no ruins on the top of the rock. Visiting Pidurangala instead of Sigiriya would be like choosing to climb a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu instead of visiting Machu Picchu. Sure the view would be amazing, but I’m not convinced. Spend a bit of extra money on the Sigiriya Rock ticket, I promise you it’s worth it.

Final Thoughts

I’d never heard of Sigiriya Rock before arriving in Sri Lanka. I read somewhere that it’s the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World. If my memory serves me correctly there were only ever 7 Wonders in the Ancient World. Sigiriya Rock obviously never made the list. It should have though. Sigiriya is amazing. The location, the views, the museum and the gardens make Sigiriya one of the highlights of Asia. Definitely add it to your Sri Lanka itinerary.

Have you ever visited Sigiriya Rock? What did you think of it? Any tips or comments? Share your thoughts in the comments below.