Situated in what is known as Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Sigiriya (in my opinion) is the most impressive World Heritage Site you’ll find in this part of the country that is literally stuffed full of sacred stupas and ancient temples.
Sigiriya is dual-listed by UNESCO for both its natural and historical attributes, just like its distant relative Uluru. Also like its Aussie cousin, Sigiriya juts out of a green landscape in a dazzling orange hue.
But this is where its similarities with Uluru end. For Sigiriya used to have a palace perched on top of it and visitors are welcome to climb the ancient steps and imagine what it might have been like to live here in the reign of King Kassapa in 477 – 495 AD.
If, like me, you’re much more comfortable walking on flat ground, the thought of climbing Sigiriya may make you feel rather dizzy. Fret not, though, because I did it, and promise you can too.
As there is lots to admire, learn and photograph along the way, I felt the climb was both manageable and rewarding.
Here’s a few things I thought you might like to know though:
- Stick your head in the museum before you start. It offers a great insight into the history of the site, including a large-scale model of what the palace would have looked like all those years ago. Plus this will your last chance to use the loo until you get back down again!
- Hold onto your ticket. You will need to purchase a pass to climb Sigiriya which costs $30. You’ll need to show it before you enter the water gardens so keep it handy.
- Wear sturdy shoes. This might sound obvious but you will need decent walking shoes to do the climb. You’ll see locals (including schoolchildren) wearing anything from pumps to flip-flops but I felt much more comfortable on some of the slippery stone sections with some proper grip underfoot.
- Break it into sections. There’s no need to rush to the top – just enjoy the climb. And take much-needed breaks whenever you feel like it along the way. I recommend a little drink stop before you attempt the last section through the Lion’s paws.
- No photos at the mirror wall. You can take photos at any point along the climb apart from in the cave with the frescoes and the famous ‘mirror wall’. This is a shame but I get we have to protect these things for posterity.
- Take an umbrella for shelter at the top. There’s no protection from the sun at the summit so remember to wear sun protection (even on a cloudy day – Jayne!) and take a small umbrella for extra protection on clear days.
- Drink lots of water. Obvs. There’s nowhere to buy any once you start the climb so take enough to keep you going until you get back to the car park.
- Watch out for the ‘helpers’. Some gentlemen may try to help you with the steep steps at the start of the climb and then latch themselves onto you as a guide for the rest of the way. If you’ve been to the museum though you don’t need a guide to climb with you. The pathway is clearly marked. Just a polite no thanks and a shake of your shoulders (if they happen to grab you there) will be enough to let them know you’re good to go solo.
- Follow signs for ‘foreigners exit’. Finally, there is a quicker way out than going back past the museum. Follow the signs for the ‘foreigners exit’ and you’ll be led out via a few souvenirs stands and some stalls with cold drinks.
- Avoid the heat around midday. Because this is a moderately difficult climb with no protection from the elements it’s just common sense to go early or later on in the day. It’s best to spend the hottest part of the day by the pool if you ask me!
This was definitely one of the highlights from my visit to the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. I travelled to the Sri Lanka as part of TBCAsia and stayed as a guest of Cinnamon Hotels. Check out this post for details on where to stay in the region.