Picking up from where I left off in chronicling the Sri Lanka holiday – we saw the beautiful Sinhala frescoes and Buddha statues in Dambulla Caves – we continued to move on to Sigiriya, only just 30 minutes drive from Dambulla.
Sigiriya is a massive rock of 600 feet high and top of the rock was once a palace of King Kasyapa dated back to 5th century, The King built a gateway to his palace in the form of a lion, hence Sigiriya is also called the Lion Rock in Sinhala.
The entire site was built as a palace and fortress. There were gardens, moats, mirror wall with frescoes. The Lion Gate was built at a mid-level terrace and the palace itself was on the flat top of the rock. Sigiriya is a UNESCO site and apparently was one of the best examples of urban planning in ancient times. Unfortunately, the fortress and the palace were abandoned after the king’s death.
We arrived there in the afternoon and boy, it was hot. And I wasn’t really in the mood of climbing rocks or hills in that kind of heat but we went anyway. Our host, George advised us that we might not be able to climb all the way to the top as 12 tourists were attacked by wasps 2 days before. We didn’t think much about it – perhaps we were hoping no wasp attack on our day – but we saw signs at the ticketing booth cautioning visitors about the attack. Regardless, we went ahead, hoping that things would change once we arrived at the Lion Gate.
While I climbed up the rock a little slower than my friend who is more, erm, agile than me, I managed to take some pictures of the site and the magnificent view from above.
My friend urged me to carry on to Lion Gate, and I would never forget her comment, “C’mon, Kath, let’s go all the way to the top! If the old aunty can walk up without any shoes, then we can definitely do it!” I love her optimism 🙂
And so we did reach at the Lion Gate…but there was some kind of restlessness going on at the mid-terrace. The authorities had set up a shack containing hooded jackets. The jackets must be given to visitors who wished to continue to climb to the top, knowing full well that there were many wasps flying around. We saw visitors climbed up the stairs but hesitated and stopped halfway. Some came down immediately. Those already at the top wanted to climb down but waited too. And it was all because of the wasps. There were many wasp nests on the rock – huge ones (see black dots on the rock in pic) – we overheard conversations from those who gave up climbing that they could not continue because the wasps were flying straight at them.
My friend desperately wanted to climb while I opted to wait for her at Lion Gate – under the shade 🙂 She took the hooded jacket and waited for the right moment to climb. But when she saw people stopping half way and returning back, she didn’t want to take the risk. As optimistic as ever, she said, “It’s ok, perhaps next time!”
Visiting Hours: 7.00am-5.30pm daily
Entrance Fee: US$30
It takes about 3-4 hours to climb the rock.