The Lion Rock

Sigiriya, a UNESCO-listed site, is one of the best known attractions in Sri Lanka (after the beaches). Ever since I first learnt about Sigiriya and the rock paintings from my parents, I’ve wanted to visit what seemed an amazing attraction. Every time we were in Lanka and somewhere near Sigiriya, I would beg my parents for a quick visit to see Sigiriya. The first time we tried, the park was closing for the day (this was pre-smart phones so we just didn’t have information on our fingertips). Next attempt there were “vicious wasps” and we were strongly advised against visiting (I was pretty keen on taking on the wasps). Finally, on my last trip with hubby, we made it to Sigiriya, early in the morning and no wasps to be seen!

Now the story around Sigiriya is that this site was chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) to be his new capital city. He built a place on top of the rock and surrounded the rock with frescoes (paintings) which to this day can be very clearly seen. At the top of the rock are pools (of the swimming type). The true mystery of Sigiriya is how did they get the water up to the top of the rock? Presumably there must have been some type of sophisticated irrigation system? But this has yet to be discovered!

As you walk towards the entrance of the park, there are a whole bunch of stalls selling water (you will need hydrating on the journey, so buy some if you don’t have any!), hats, and souvenirs. Just after the entrance are wide open green lawns with lots of small and large man-made pools surrounded by rocks. If it hadn’t been so hot when we got there, it would have been a great spot to sit and enjoy the view of Sigiriya and maybe contemplate the meaning of life. Even with the heat, the greenery really provides a sense of serenity and beauty to the National Park.



Up until the base of the rock, the walk is quite flat and is doable by anyone, but after this point there are quite a few steps, and it’s s not really wheel chair friendly. Just before we started up the steps towards Sigiriy, we met the adorable local monkeys. They generally will leave you alone, and just remember they are wild animals so you shouldn’t feed them. I had a blast running behind them to take some photos!

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Finally we started the ascent up Sigiriya. About halfway, my mother-in-law, who also came along for the visit, gave up. She waited for us under a nice big shady tree, where there were quite a few other people who had given up. I have to admit that the walk up the rock is pretty tiring, this is partially due to the heat, it’s also slow going because of the number of people going up. For me, the excitement of finally getting here overcame any tiredness.

I’ve never seen photos of the walk up to the rock, and it was beautifully eye-opening. As you walk up, there are quite a few detours you can go on to literally side-track you from your mission to get to the top of Sigiriya. During peak season, it’s pretty slow going from where the alfresco paintings are to the foot of the lion to the top of Sigiriya. We didn’t actually make it all the way to the top, because we were running out of time for our next stop, and I was so busy taking pictures and taking all the various detours, so it’s a reason to come back next time.

We spent half a day in Sigiriya, but I think honestly you need a day to truly explore the entire rock and spend some time contemplating how they managed to build this back in the day.

If you’ve been to Sigiriya, then let us know what you thought.

Also keep an eye out for past and future posts on Sri Lanka and its many gorgeous places, including:


Happy Trip Avenging!


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