SIGIRIYA TOURISM | TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT & TRAVEL GUIDE TO SIGIRIYA
#3 of 10 Places to visit in Sri Lanka
Ideal Trip Duration: 1-2 Days
Nearest City to Sigiriya: Colombo (176 Kms)
Best Time to Visit Sigiriya: January to September
Peak Season: January to April
At a distance of 16 km from Dambulla, 62 km from Polonnaruwa, 75 km from Anuradhapura, 90 km from Kandy, 100 km from Trincomalee, 176 km from Colombo and 181 km from Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya is an ancient city in the northern Matale district of Central Province in Sri Lanka. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka as part of Sri Lanka Tour Packages.
Sigiriya sits right in the middle of Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle made up of Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa. Also known as the Lion's Rock or Lion Mountain, Sigiriya is a popular stop for tourists who are interested in archeological ruins as it is home to the ruins of the world recognized ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress situated on top of a massive 200-meter high rock surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. The rock itself is a lava plug left over from an ancient long extinct volcano.
Excavations at Sigiriya indicate that the area was occupied during the prehistoric times. There is clear evidence that the many rock shelters and caves in the vicinity were occupied by Buddhist monks and ascetics from as early as the 3rd century BCE. In 477 CE, King Kashyapa of Anuradhapura moved the capital from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya. During Kashyapa's reign (477 to 495 CE), Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress. After his death, the site fell into decline and was again used as a Buddhist monastery till the very end of the 14th century. After which it remained largely forgotten, except for brief periods of military use by the Kingdom of Kandy in the 17th century, until being rediscovered by the British in 1828.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of ancient urban planning and irrigation in the world. It was a city that included a citadel, two main palaces (the upper and the lower), gardens, waterways, the famed mirror wall as well as a huge lion-shaped gateway due to which the place derives its name. The highlight of the fortress is the colorful frescoes painted on the western face of the rock and it is believed that there were initially 500 such frescoes, but merely around 22 of them remain today. Sigiriya Museum, Pidurangala, Dambulla Cave Temple, Minneriya National Park, and Kaudulla National Park are some other must-visit attractions in Sigiriya.
Sigiriya has a lot of accommodation options right from the budget hotels to homestays, luxury hotels, and resorts. It is also possible to visit Sigiriya as a day trip while staying in Dambulla, the historical cave temple town.
Sigiriya Airport is the nearest airport and is well connected by air taxi with Colombo. However, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Colombo is the nearest international airport which is about 145 km from Sigiriya. About 17 km from Sigiriya, Habarana Railway Station is the nearest railhead which has regular trains from Colombo, Trincomalee, and Batticaloa. Dambulla Bus Station is the nearest bus stand which is about16 km from Sigiriya. It has regular buses from Colombo, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, and Kandy. One can reach Sigiriya from Dambulla easily by bus, taxi or tuk-tuk.
Sigiriya is a year-round destination, which can visit at any time of the year. However, the best time to visit Sigiriya is during the peak season, i.e. from January to April when the weather is pleasant and is suitable for pursuing outdoor activities in this region. May to September is also a good time because it is the dry season there. Better to avoid visiting Sigiriya from October to December when the site witnesses heavy rains.