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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2018
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to See around Sigiriya – UNESCO Heritage Site

Sigiriya is home to the country's largest and most complex project the Lions Rock Fortress. The sleepy town is just four hours from Colombo offering a range of rustic attractions to explore and savour

1

Explore the Royal Residence

The Sigiriya Rock Fortress built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century served as his royal palace and harem. Established on a 600-foot high rock boulder the citadel is still one of the country's largest most complex schemes; recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Basically, all Sri Lanka tours will include a trip to rustic Sigiriya, especially for viewing the fortress. Around the rock column, Kashyapa added beautiful gardens, water features and enhanced meditation caves with lotus ponds hewn into the rocky roofs as a cooling technique. The irrigation system and drainage system here is quite advanced while the sky gardens on the summit of the rock will take your breath away; as will the bird's eye view. Within the rock are murals known the world over as 'Sigiriya Frescoes' pictures of damsels that were either ethereal beings or the king's concubines. A must visit for a taste of ancient glory, Sigiriya Lions Rock Fortress will not disappoint.

2

Visit Pidurangala Rock

Pidurangala is just 2kms from Sigiriya Rock. It has a close historical link to Sigiriya and is often overlooked. For over 2000 years this rock has been a monastery to monks occupying the cave system found there. Legend has it the monks lived in Sigiriya long before it was a citadel; in fact, it was King Kashyapa who moved the monks to Pidurangala once he set his sights on establishing Sigiriya rock as his palace. The King refurbished Pidurangala as gratitude to the monks move. The ruins' of a stupa there is believed to be the site Kashyapa was cremated. From the summit of Pidurangala, one is rewarded with stunning vistas of Sigiriya rock across the lake.

3

Savour an Elephant Ride in Sigiriya

The elephant-back tour in Sigiriya will vary in duration with the happy jaunt taking travellers' through a lush jungle and detour across the lotus blossom-strewn lake with the iconic 'rock' looming in the background. Book your tour with an established Sri Lanka destination management company and enjoy a comprehensive scout of the ancient own.

4

Drive into Minneriya National Park

Just under an hour's drive from Sigiriya, Minneriya National Park is a beautiful sanctuary known for its immense elephant population. Jeep safaris into the park are extremely popular; you should, however, book the tour with a recommended operator in the area or make use of savvy guides and services provided by Sri Lanka tour agencies. Similar to Walkers Tours these operators ensure you enjoy all that Minneriya has to offer. The folds of the park consist of savannah-like scrub jungle while the area surrounding the immense Minneriya Tank or lake is a lush haven. The elephants arrive in droves to feed and drink water from the tank. August is the best month for observing these gentle mammals in very large numbers.

5

Check Out Dambulla Temple

Dambulla is easily reached from Sigiriya; you would most likely drive past the town when heading to and from Sigiriya. No tour of the north central cultural triangle is complete without a stop at the fabulous rock temple of Dambulla. The ancient temple located on the huge Dambulla rock is a network of caves. Five of these caves function as temples dedicated to chronicling the life and times of the Gautama Buddha. A must visit for ancient relics, traditions and culture.

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