- World Heritage Site
- Masterpiece of ancient urban planning
- Landscape & Architecture
- Construction technology
- Ancient fine art
Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and palace built by King Kashyapa during the reign of 473 – 495 which is standing majestically 660 feet straight up. It is located in the northern Matale District near the city of Dambulla in the central province of Sri Lanka. The word Sigiriya or the Sinhagiri means the Lion’s Rock where you have to climb up 1200 steps before you reach the Lion Rock Fortress on top of Sigiriya. Several platforms break up the steps and allow for a little break if you need it. Today Sigiriya rock fortress is one of the most famous Archeological Treasure and UNESCO named Sigiriya rock as a World Heritage in 1982 under the name “Ancient City of Sigiriya Sri Lanka”.
Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. Referred by locals as the 8th Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.
The palace is located in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above sea level. Sigiriya rock, formed from magma of an extinct volcano, is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles. Its view astonishes the visitors with the unique harmony between nature and human imagination. The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys, and fountains.
The surrounding territories of Sigiriya were inhibited for several thousand years. Since the 3rd century BC, the rock of Sigiriya served as a monastery. In the second half of the 5th-century king, Kasyapa decided to construct a royal residence hereafter his death Sigiriya again became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, when it was abandoned.
The original entrance to the palace was on the north side of the rock, and took the form of a large lion, with its front paws, head, and shoulders projecting from the rock. The staircase went up between the two front paws and into the mouth of the lion – hence Lion Rock. Today all that remains are the two paws – but these give a good idea of the original size of the sculpture. The so-called ‘lion staircase’ serves as the descent from the summit.
The western wall of Sigiriya was almost entirely covered by frescoes, created during the reign of Kasyapa. Eighteen frescoes have survived to this day. The frescoes are depicting nude females and are considered to be either the portraits of Kasyapa’s wives and concubines or priestesses performing religious rituals. Despite the unknown identity of the females depicted in the frescoes, these unique ancient paintings are celebrating female beauty and have incredible historical significance.
One of the most striking features of Sigiriya is its Mirror wall. In the old days, it was polished so thoroughly that the king could see his reflection in it. The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya.
The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century. These inscriptions are proving that Sigiriya was a tourist destination more than a thousand years ago. Today, painting on the wall is strictly prohibited.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
01. What is Sigiriya Famous for?
Sigiriya is a best-preserved ancient rock fortress and one of the archeological treasures in South Asia. It’s a masterpiece of ancient urban planning/landscape & architecture/construction technology /exceptional hydraulic engineering & management / ancient fine art with the unique harmony between nature and human imagination. Thus, UNESCO declared this site as a World Heritage
02. Who Built the Sigiriya rock?
A Sri Lankan King Kashyapa built the famous Sigiriya lion rock
03. How many steps are in Lion Rock Sigiriya to climb?
Approximately 1,200 steps are to be climbed to the summit.
04. What is the height of the lion rock Sigiriya?
Its 660 Feet from the surrounding plain
05. Is it hard or dangerous to climb lion rock Sigiriya?
It is not dangerous to climb but make sure you are healthy enough to climb 1,200.
06. Can senior citizens climb the Sigiriya lion rock fortress?
Yes, people do and you may take time and climb. There are places for you to take a rest and climb.
I suggest keeping senior citizens in the nearby restaurant and climb. Also, you may let them visit the Sigiriya museum close to the main gate.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Dambulla
07. Can I climb lion rock with my infant or kid?
Not recommended but people do climb with kids like 8 Years and above.
08. Opening time of Sigiriya lion rock for visitors?
7.00 AM to 5.00 PM
09. How much Entrance fee costs?
30 USD per person (Foreign)
15 USD per person only for SAARC Countries nationals (Need to submit the passport to get this discount)
10. What is the best time to climb Sigiriya lion rock?
Ideally in the morning, 8 – 10 Am or 3 – 5 PM to avoid the hot sun
11. What is the temperature of Sigiriya lion rock?
Approximately 27 – 33 C
12. Can I buy a Sigiriya lion rock entrance fees ticket online?
Not yet as of now but this will be online soon
13. What is the dress code for Sigiriya Lion rock?
Sigiriya is not a temple or any religious place, So you can wear your dress.