In 477 AD, King Kassapa decided to build his winter palace on top of Sigiriya–a rock 660 feet high with sheer cliffs. He had just murdered his father and taken the throne. He wanted an unassailable palace. At least that is what has been commonly believed. An alternate theory is that this was a monastery or religious site. Either way, it was an impressive construction effort as the walls are sheer cliffs. There are steps etched into the rock face. When the site was declared a UNESCO world heritage site they built steel stairs up most of the way.
Yesterday we tackled the 1200 steps to the top. It’s not as hard as it sounds as we stopped along the way to see some cave frescoes and other features. And, it was crowded so we had to wait on the stair cases.
Before the last section of steps, there are a pair of huge lion’s paws. That is all that remains of a large lion carving as parts of the lion’s head crumbled through the years.
Once we arrived at the top, the summit palace is laid out in an almost grid pattern. You can imagine palace ground with gardens, pools, terraces and rooms. It reminded us of what we saw at Macchu Picchu in Peru.
The 360 degree views are breathtaking and well worth the climb and wait. It is very windy so hold onto your hats!
Before we ascended, we walked through the incredible royal gardens. Take note of the 1500+ year old irrigation system.
Wear comfortable shoes. Bring water.
Go early in the morning before it gets too hot and crowded. If there is a line waiting to go up you can try another way up (from the car park to the right of the main stairs).
Use a local guide.