"Conquering the Lion Rock" Sigiriya by mightywease
Sigiriya Travel Guide: 103 reviews and 266 photos
It's very difficult to pick a favourite experience of Sri Lanka but there is something very special about Sigiriya.
We stayed in Sigiriya for three nights, using it as a base to visit Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa but it wasn't until the morning of our last day there that we climbed the Lion Rock itself.
I must admit that i viewed this with some trepidation. I am a little scared of heights but more than that I am quite sloth-like in my habits so knew that I was not going to find the climb easy! I was right, it did wear me out, but once I reached the top the aching legs were well worth it. The view from the summit over the country side is suberb. Standing on the top of the rock with the wind whistling around us it was so easy to imagine the palace fortress alive and bustling as it would have been when in use.
On the way back down (much easier on the legs than going up!) we looked at the beautiful frescos, their paint work still colourful and vibrant centuries after having been painted.
I can still remember how it felt to stand on the top of the Lion Rock, looking over the countryside and feeling like I was on top of the world. Exhilarating!
In AD473 King Dhatusena was overthrone by his son, Kasyapa. Fearing that his half brother, who went into exile in India, would one day return and challange him for the throne Kasyapa decided to build a Fortress on top of the huge 200m high rock at Sigiriya.
Construction of the Fortress took 8 years, between 477 and 485AD. However the complex was not just a fortress but a royal palace too including water gardens, pools and beautiful frescos.
After 18 years Kasyapa's half-brother did return at the head of an army. Kasyapa led his own army to meet them. In the ensuing conflict Kasyapa thought that his supporters had abandoned him and so took his own life.
After the fortress ceased to be occupied by the royal family it was used for many years as a monastry finally being abandoned in the 12th Century. The site lay unused until it was re-discovered in 1828.
THE LIONS PAWS
About halfway through the climb is a plateau which, apart from affording the chance for a well earned rest, contains two huge brick paws. The rock was once covered with a giant brick lions head (only the paws now remain) with the stairway to the summit leading past the paws and into the Lions mouth.
These wonderfully preserved, beautifully coloured frescos depict apsaras - celestial nymphs - shown bathing, offering flowers etc.. The colours - golds, reds and greens -are amazing. Still fresh and glowing centuries after they were painted.
When in use this would have been covered in buildings. Now only the foundations remain, however, it is nonetheless impressive. There are terraces, ponds, and precarious platforms dangerously close to the long drop down to the floor below. During it's heyday there would have been royal chambers, sleeping quarters and a flower garden. Sitting on the stone slab known as the King's Throne you can gaze out over the jungle and imagine how it must have appeared to Kasyapa over a thousand years ago.
We started our climb to the rock at 7.00am. Early, but it did mean that we had the summit to ourselves.
I understand that it can get quite busy later in the day.
Take plenty of water. Even early in the morning it gets very hot climbing.
Take plenty of camera film as well. There is a lot to photograph!
- Pros:Fantastic views, amazing scenary
- Cons:A long. long climb!
- In a nutshell:Give your legs some exercise and get climbing!
mightywease's Related Pages
Sigiriya Travel Guide
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- "The Lion Fortress."
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