Climbing Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

We stayed in Sigiriya and took a tuk-tuk from the hotel to climb the iconic rock in November 2018. It had been pouring down with rain just before we set off and we were in two minds whether to go, but if we didn’t go then there was no guarantee we would have time to do it, so we went for it. We arrived at about 7.10am and there weren’t many people there, but it was crowded with coach parties by the time we got back down, so I would recommend starting early.

It wasn’t looking promising for the top!

The whole rock was covered in mist when we arrived. You walk through some nice gardens, with a few steps, before you start to climb the rock, which is practically vertical. The steps are well made but there are plenty of them. 1,200 to be precise! I was a bit nervous about the iron steps that were pinned to the sheer rock face (I’m not a fan of heights) but there were only two points where I felt scared: going to see the frescos and the final ascent. The rest was absolutely fine.

It is thought that Sigiriya, a world heritage site, might have been inhabited in prehistoric times. On the way up to the summit there is a long, sheltered gallery with preserved frescoes that are likely to date back to the 5th century. (You are not allowed to take pictures of them unfortunately.)

Even though it was early morning and had been raining, we were still sweating buckets with the climb. You know that you are nearly there when you reach two massive lion’s feet. These are what remains of a gigantic brick lion which stood guarding the palace at the top. Sigiriya (Lion’s rock) gets its name from this statue. The final ascent would have been via a stairway leading between the paws and into its mouth but now the paws are the only thing that are left.

The flat-topped summit contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation. The climb is not for the faint-hearted and felt quite precarious, even though I am sure it was perfectly safe. I didn’t look down and just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the top!

There are, allegedly, wonderful views from the top of Sigiriya but unfortunately, we were in a blanket of cloud! We hung around for a while, hoping that it would clear but it didn’t.

You go down a different way than you go up, via a boulder garden. After we reached the bottom we went around the museum (included in the price of the ticket) and learned about how the rock was discovered and excavated.

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