Sigiriya Lion Rock Climbing in Srilanka

My first two trips to Srilanka were of very short duration- 2 to 3 days only. Thus I had dismissed Sigiriya as a bit too far and focused on cities closer to Colombo- such as Galle, Negombo, Kandy etc. However, my recent trip was so far the longest- 5 full days and I could afford a slightly longer journey.

Sigiriya is famous for its giant rock, known as Lion’s rock. I won't bore you with its history- you can do the reading here on Wikipedia if interested or refer a quick history photo below.

Makeshift steps are made to allow tourists climb all the way till the top of Sigiriya’s Lion Rock. This post shares our experience visiting and climbing the Lion’s rock in Sigiriya, Srilanka

After landing in Colombo at 11 PM, we headed straight to Sigiriya, some 150kms + from Colombo airport. We arrived in Sigiriya at about 3.30 AM, went to our hotel (Sigiriya Riverside Villa), rested for about 3 hours and left to explore Sigiriya. The Sigiriya Lion rock was about 1.5 kms from the hotel, hence we decided to walk. Our plan was to enter at 7 AM, as soon as gates open and climb before sunlight gains temperature. However we did a mistake. We missed a turn, ended up walking several kms extra. The roads were nice and we decided not to turn back, thus ended up taking a longer walk. Instead of reaching Sigiriya direct through the international tourists parking area, we went in circles, went closer to Pidurangala rock (which had a 500 LKR entry fee) and reached Sigiriya ticket counter finally.
We eventually reached Sigiriya’s ticketing counter- which was 300 meters away from entry point- would have been convenient if they had kept ticket counter and checking point together. Entry fee is 30 USD for foregin nationals, but SAARC members get a discounted fee of 15 USD. Passport is necessary- it is adequate if one person from the group goes to counter with all passports. Others can wait near the entrance. There was museum inside ticketing complex but we skipped it. It was 8.10 AM when we got the ticket and could enter the campus, 1 hour more that what we had planned. Sunlight was not very favorable for a frontal view photograph. It was a Friday morning, crowd wasn’t much, but several groups of school children were at the Sigiriya rock.

Sigiriya area map for your reference
We started climbing the rock. The first stop was a dead-end with some paintings on the rock and photography NOT allowed. Involved going up n down in spiral staircase

After that we had to return and take another path. Reached a level area where drinking water was available and a tree provided some shade. Here we rested for some time, had our breakfast. Then came the final summit to the top of Sigiriya.
Sigiriya’s top surface is roughly the size of a football field. There’s a remain of a palace- only foundations and floor, a few man made waterbodies that store rainwater, a few trees and some nice view. Very strong wind greeted us, making it difficult to even stand steady and take a photo.
Some tourists were found to pose in dangerous way- with heavy winds such a pose could be deadly. Exercise caution.
Elephant Safaris are very popular in the area
Some dogs gave us company on top of the lion rock

Some sort of construction was also going on. Construction workers had set up a pulley system to lift heady goods from foot of the rock to the top. A good idea for Srilanka tourism to setup cable car kind of mechanism to ferry tourists to the top.

I didn't count but Sigiriya Lion Rock reportedly has about 1200 steps. Climbing all the way up was a good exercise to our legs. However be advised that steps are narrow and steep at times, making it difficult for senior citizens or young kids. We came back to our hotel by about 12 noon- took us about 3 hours to climb up, and down, with generous rest and breaks included.

Had nice candy- known as Traffic light o the way back
View from the top of Sigiriya Lion Rock
Sigiriya campus has free to use rest rooms, few shops. Tuk tuk is available from main road if you need transportation back to your hotel.

Within the lion rock campus there're few other attractions- few points from where you'll get good view of the Lion's Rock, few ponds and so on.

There was a Buddha statue at a distance- we didn’t go closer.
Another hill is nearby- Pidurangala- entry fee is 500 LKR for foregign tourists- you can climb all the way to the top and get good view of Sigiriya Lion Rock. Below is the view of Pidurangala from top of Sigiriya. Many tourists spend another half a day climbbing Pidurangala to get a good view of Sigiriya lion rock
Some tips to plan your Sigiriya Visit
  1. Carry Passport- SAARC country passports cost 15 USD less compared to other foreign nationals( Regular fee 30 USD)
  2. Rest room available only at the base of the rock, not on top or enroute.
  3. Sigiriya campus opens at 7 AM, closes at 5 PM. Beginning earlier in the day is recommended as you can climb up before it gets hot
  4. Climbing to top and back typically takes 2-3 hours, with some breaks in between. Free drinking water facility is available at half way point-do carry water bottles, no other items available for purchase- like food
  5. Be careful about very strong winds
  6. No high profile restaurant in Sigiriya-only very simple ones.  For food, plan well with your homestay in advance
After exploring Sigiriya, you can either climb another nearby rock- Pidurangala- 500 LKR fee to get good view of the Sigiriya lion rock, or plan a trip to Dambulla rock temple and golden temple- 25kms from Sigiriya or do a safari at Minneria National Park (20 kms from Sigiriya)

Sigiriya main town is few kms from Lions Rock Hundreds of budget home stays are available all around Sigiriya

9 comments:

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.