National Parks, Ancient Cities, Natural Beauty and Unique Temples surround the town of Sigiriya. There is something for everyone in this diverse area of Sri Lanka, not mentioning what the town itself has to offer.
Once the home of the Royal Family and the fortune that came with it. It was a must stop along my 2 weeks in Sri Lanka.
I stayed in the town next to Sigiriya in a Hostel called Jungle Vista Backpackers, which is down a small little track off of the main T junction which goes into Sigiriya road but there is a lot of hotels, hostels and homestays if you wanted to stay in the middle of the town.
Not as well known as is neighbouring rock (Sigiriya) but just as interesting, with several temples of its own built up the rock, insane 360 degree views from teh top, with a lying Buddha statue, temples and a flat top for people to sit, rest and enjoy the top once climbing up the … steps to teh top Piderangula Rock gives a budgeted version of its neighbour. It was only £3 to climb at sunrise (5.30am in the morning), and was worth every near fall!
The story behind it is that’s it is a 200 metres high rock (only a metre lower than Sigiriya Rock). Pidurangala translates to “offered piles of Gold” is an important place for Buddhists and was first used as a Buddhist monastery.
The hike up is well trodden, and doesn’t seem to bad until you arrive at the temple , then it gets a little harder with climbing boulders at the very end, giving you one last test before reaching the top, hey it was a great 6am adventure! Remember water, comfy shoes, cover your legs and shoulders due to it still being respected as a temple.
Lion Rock in Sigiriya is one of the most popular landmarks to visit in Sri Lanka. The natural phenomenon is an enormous (200m) square shaped rock that looks so out of place. Lion Rock is one of the eight UNESCO Heritage sites found in Sri Lanka and if anyone says they’ve been to this beautiful country they’ve probably climbed the 1200+ steps to the top! However as usual I didnt go with the crowds and due to my budget refused to pay the £25 charge to climb (a hard climb) to the top. Most people do it at sunrise! Cooler!
What i do know is the story behind it, Lion Rock due to its carved lion paws at the base of the rock, was built as a decorative royal fort, At the top it has the remains of once vast temples and palace which King Kashyapa (477 – 495 AD) built for his new capital city. Famous around the world and a must visit. After teh king died however was used as a monastery until the 14th century.
Kaudulla National Park – Elephants
This incredible 66.6-sq-km national park has over 250 elephants living freely within it. With a huge lake which entices them out during the the afternoon. Baby’s, young teenagers and mothers, plus even a few rogue Male elephants it was an incredible to see these huge gentle giants roaming freely and so happy.
Protective mothers trying to shield the small babies, young ones playing with the others causing mischief. I could of spent all day there just staring and looking at them! There are alot of other animals to see within the park too like wild boards, peacocks, loads of different birds, but the main attraction is the elephants.
Another of the many National Parks is Minneriya which have a herd of over 150 elephants and is only 30 minute drive from Sigiriya where as Kaedella is around 50 minutes.
A town only 30 minutes from Sigiriya and has been made famous for the Cave Temple (admission is £8) carved into the rocks of a huge rock, with golden artwork, statues and treasures. The steps up are good for the glutes, and the views from the top are beautiful of the thick jungle around the temple. You must be covering shoulders and legs, and take off your shoes for respect. Beware of the cheeky monkeys at the top, and make sure you are given a prayer by the monks who serve this temple. If you head there at the right time you will catch the ceremonies which happen in the temples. I loved walking through the white simple corridors buried into the cave wall like the rock has grabbed and hugged the temple close to it.
Dambulla is also a major junction for trade and transport from the south to north of the island, so is an interesting town to spend a day in, including the Fruit and Vegetable market in the early morning full of fresh mangoes, bananas and pineapples. Yummy! There is also an opportunity to visit a spice garden to learn about the different Sri Lankan herbs, spices and other flavours.
Just over an hour away is this incredible Ancient city, full of history, royal palaces, the Buddhist culture and in such great condition still even after 1900 years. It houses artefact’s which could of been taken out of a gift shops they are in such pristine condition. The huge Somawathiya Stupa which has a huge complex around it from Monk accomodations and kitchens. I even came across a small pond which has nothing closely around it in the shape of Lotus, beautifully decorated but not even busy or noticed by a lot of tourists.
More about Pollonaruwa in my blogpost – https://livinglifetotheblonde.com/2020/04/25/anuradhapura-vs-pollanuruwa/(opens in a new tab)
Overall it was a short and sweet trip to Sigiriya, I found when I arrived it was very quiet, so didn’t have the atmosphere I exactly wanted within the town or the build up of tourism I expected. Sri Lanka is still a very underdeveloped country for tourism which gives it its charm especially within Sigiriya which is known around the world but hasn’t lost its authenticity. I loved exploring the different factors that make this area such a rich magnet for visitors to Sri Lanka and couldn’t recommend it enough for everyone visiting!