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Sigiriya Travel Essentials

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"The Eighth Wonder of the World"

Sigiriya Tourism

Sigiriya, often referred to as the "Lion Rock," is an ancient rock fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka. It is located between Dambulla and Habarane and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. Rising dramatically from the surrounding plains, Sigiriya is a colossal rock formation standing around 200 meters tall. Its sheer vertical walls and flattened summit once served as a fortified royal citadel. 

Sigiriya dates back to the 5th century AD when King Kashyapa chose this site as his capital and built a magnificent palace atop the rock. The fortress was abandoned after his death and transformed into a Buddhist monastery. There is a huge gateway shaped like a lion, and the place derives its name from this gateway. The rock fortress showcases the advanced engineering and architectural prowess of ancient Sri Lankan civilization.

The remnants of the palace complex, including water gardens, frescoes, and the famous Lion Gate, depict the grandeur of its past. The highlight of the fortress is the colorful frescoes painted on the western face of the rock; it is believed that there were initially 500 such frescoes, but merely around 22 of them remain today. Another highlight is the Mirror Wall, a polished surface that once displayed reflective qualities and now bears ancient inscriptions and graffiti.

The gigantic Lion’s Paws greet visitors before the summit. At the peak are the ruins of the royal palace of King Kashyapa I and 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding landscape. Sigiriya Museum at the foot of the rock has a plethora of artifacts related to Sigiriya on display for visitors seeking information regarding the site’s history. Ascending the rock involves climbing steep staircases and pathways, culminating in the Lion Platform. The rock fortress is surrounded by beautifully landscaped water gardens, reservoirs, and irrigation systems. Sigiriya stands as a testament to ancient Sri Lankan ingenuity and artistry, offering a captivating glimpse into the island's rich cultural heritage. It is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, archaeologists, and travelers seeking an unforgettable cultural experience.

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Must Know Before You Travel to Sigiriya

  • Timings: Open Daily from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Last entrance at 5:00 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Locals: LKR 50, Foreigners: USD 30/LKR 5500(Entrance ticket also includes entry to Sigiriya Museum)
    The Sigiriya ticket office is located on a side street next to the main fortress entrance and is open from 6:30 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Accessibility: 1200 steps need to be climbed to reach the summit of Sigiriya, and it takes around 1-2 hours. The walk is quite steep
  • Getting Around: You can find a cycle or an autorickshaw to get around Sigiriya. It is also big enough to explore on foot
  • How to Reach:
    Car- Sigiriya is around 180km from Colombo. Take track A1 or A6
    Bus- Buses are available from Dambulla regularly, and they take around 40 minutes to reach Sigiriya. They start at 7:00 AM and run every 30 minutes. The tickets cost around LKR 50 per person one-way
    Tuk Tuk- Available from Dambulla for around LKR 1000-1600
  • Photography Prohibitions: Photography is prohibited in some places, like the frescoes wall. Make sure to look for such signs
  • Wasps: There are many wasp nets throughout the grounds and rock walls. Avoid getting stung, particularly along the stairs.
  • Pidurangala Rock: Located just 3km from Sigiriya Fortress, this is a must-visit for a stunning panoramic view of Sigiriya Rock.
  • Things to Carry: Lots of water and a Hat. Wear good and comfortable climbing shoes
  • Washrooms: Located at the main entrance and exit. No washrooms are available on the way up or down

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Shopping in Sigiriya

Although Sigiriya does not have any significant shopping complexes or big-name stores, one can buy souvenirs such as wooden carvings, paintings and other handicrafts at some of the shops scattered in the vicinity of the site; such shops include Pethikada and Sigiriya Craft Village.

History of Sigiriya

Excavations at Sigiriya indicate that the area was occupied during the protohistoric times. During the 3rd century BC, Sigiriya was the site of a Buddhist monastery, evident from the rock shelters at the boulder gardens. King Kashyapa of the Anuradhapura kingdom fled to Sigiriya after capturing the throne and built his capital here in the 5th century AD. After his death, the site fell into decline and was again used as a Buddhist monastery.

In the 17th century, Sigiriya was a garrison for the kingdom of Kandy. The site was discovered and consequently excavated in the 19th century by the British.

Best Time to Visit Sigiriya

How to Reach Sigiriya

How to Reach Overview

One can enter Sigiriya by bus or car

How to reach Sigiriya by flight

Sigiriya has no airports per se, but there are buses, cars and even tuk tuks available from Colombo in case tourists wish to avail of this option.

How to reach Sigiriya by road

Cars and taxis are also an option but traffic is very slow

How to reach Sigiriya by train

Colombo is connected to Sigiriya by train.

How to reach Sigiriya by bus

Colombo and Dambulla are connected to Sigiriya with regular bus services.

Local transport in Sigiriya

The best way to get around Nuwara Eliya is on foot or tuk tuks.

Most frequently searched routes to Sigiriya

Route Name Distance Time
Colombo to Sigiriya 177 Km 4 Hours 34 Minutes
Kandy to Sigiriya 91 Km 2 hours 56 Mins
Dambulla to Sigiriya 17.2 km 25 mins

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Sigiriya Photos

Sigiriya, Sri-Lanka
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Pidurangala Vihara - Ancient Buddhist Temple in Matale District

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FAQs on Sigiriya

What is the best time to visit Sigiriya?

January to April is the best time to visit Sigiriya when the climate is moderate and suitable for day trips. May to August is the dry season in Sigiriya, and the place has a tropical climate with a humidity of 80% all year round. However, the rest of the year sees average weather as well with the highest temperature going to around 31 degrees Celsius. October-December are the wettest months, and it’s best to avoid Sigiriya anytime during these months.

If you're okay with braving a little rainfall, then the early monsoon months are a lovely time to visit as well. The Sigiriya rock has a height of around 660 ft, and it gives a fantastic view to the tourists in all of Sri Lanka. It’s a World Heritage Site as declared by UNESCO in 1982, and a trip to Sri Lanka would be incomplete without a visit to this place.

However, the best time to visit Sigiriya Rock is at around 7 AM. It has the least number of the crowd during this hour of the day and also the light is good enough for clicking some of the great photographs. Or you can also plan your trip to Sigiriya late in the afternoon for the same reason. Avoiding weekends and public holidays are the best way to explore the rock that includes beautiful fresco art.

The off-season at Sigiriya is from October to December when the site witnesses heavy rains. Climbing the rock is relatively tricky during the monsoons; moreover, the beautiful views at the summit can become obscured by the clouds.

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What are the places near Sigiriya?

The top places near to Sigiriya are Kandy which is 75 km from Sigiriya, Anuradhapura which is located 55 km from Sigiriya, Colombo which is located 151 km from Sigiriya, Nuwara eliya which is located 112 km from Sigiriya, Galle which is located 219 km from Sigiriya

What are the things to do in Sigiriya?

The top things to do in Sigiriya are Sigiriya Rock, Pidurangala Rock , Elephant rides, Sigiriya Museum , Dambulla Cave Temple , Royal Gardens. You can see all the places to visit in Sigiriya here

What are the top hotels in Sigiriya?

The most popular hotels in Sigiriya are Sigiri Sithru Home Stay, The Otunna Guest House Sigiriya, Mango Tree Home Stay & Hostel, Asiri HomeStay, Sajee Nature Cottage, Piya Aliya Villa. You can see all the hotels in Sigiriya here

What is the best way to reach Sigiriya?

One can enter Sigiriya by bus or car
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What is the local food in Sigiriya?

While there are no restaurants at the fortress complex, a host of eateries are situated in the vicinity, such as Wijesiri Family Restaurant, Chooti Restaurant and Pradeep Restaurant. These restaurants primarily serve authentic and delicious Sri Lankan fare and Asian dishes. Head to Espresso Italiano for your daily dose of caffeine after completing the hike.

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