21 Apr Sigiriya, the Sri Lankan Lion Rock
Sri Lanka is an island with a rich cultural heritage that permeates everything. From historical remains to traditions of yesteryear, you will discover marvels all along your stay. This country gives you the opportunity to enjoy many activities, either romantic ones for young couples going on their honeymoon, or fun ones for families.
The island of Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage and Sigiriya, also called “Lion Rock”, is one of the most impressive historical remains. This archaeological site is a former royal capital of Sri Lanka. Located around 160 km away from Colombo, the country’s biggest city, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of Sigiriya, the famous fortress
At the end of the 5th century AD, the two sons of Anuradhapura’s reigning king came into conflict. Kassapa killed his father to steal the throne. He chased away his brother Moggallana who threatened him with revenge. Kassapa went to Sigiriya because this rocky outcrop stood 370 m high and could easily replace fortified walls. He had a fortified palace built on the summit, and secured the whole area from the southern side to the eastern side of the Rock with two rows of walls and moats. The northern and western sides were protected by a huge tract of jungle. He then installed running water to have a real palace. Kassapa lived there for 18 years, until his brother’s return. Moggallana deployed his army, won the battle and took back the kingdom. Sigiriya was deserted.
At the time the site was vast and had clear boundaries: a huge tract of jungle on the western and northern sides and a double row of moats on the southern and eastern side, edged with fortified walls. The Rock was surrounded by vast landscaped gardens. Nowadays visitors can access the Rock mostly from the south. They have to go through a passage to reach the first steps of the stairway leading to the fortress of Sigiriya. There are many steps; the stairway winds around the rocky wall, literally going all the way around it. The ascent leads to spellbinding vistas over the valley once you reach the top, but may prove difficult for some visitors. People who relish a physical challenge will love it!
Sigiriya today: a must-see sight
This stunning archaeological site was renovated around the middle of the 20th century. Today it has become a leading tourist site and remains one of the highlights of any trip to Sri Lanka, even if all that remains of the great lion guarding the site are the paws and if only the foundations and a small length of wall remain. This impressive outcrop is surrounded by wonderful gardens and pools as well as superb fountains. You can also visit a cave filled with frescoes representing women wearing typical necklaces and other pieces of jewellery. Yet what makes Lion Rock famous is the citadel at the top.
These archaeological remains are part of Sri Lanka’s great cultural heritage. Once you’ve climbed to the summit, you will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas over the valleys covered in vast forests, with a few villages emerging here and there. In the distance you can also see Adam’s Peak as well as some of the city’s former water reservoirs. If you suffer from vertigo, beware, the panoramic views can be a bit daunting.
Sigiriya, also called Lion Rock, is one of Sri Lanka’s wonders, and indeed the historical and cultural heritage of the whole island is impressive. Why not go on a discovery tour as a couple or as a family to embrace what Sri Lanka has to offer?