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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for Places to see in Sigiriya – An Unrivalled Past
Joanna James Joanna James
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Places to see in Sigiriya – An Unrivalled Past

There are many Popular tourist sites rank quite highly on most people's list of things to do in Sigiriya.


Fortress in the Sky

Located around a half hour's drive away from resorts in the area such as Water Garden Sigiriya, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, also known as the Lion Rock and the Fortress in the Sky, is an acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fortress was once the palace of an ancient Sri Lankan king and features an enormous rock that reaches a height of almost two hundred metres.


Ancient Capital of Anuradhapura

Once an ancient capital of Sri Lanka, the town of Anuradhapura is one of Sri Lanka's major cities and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city lies around an hour and a half's drive away from Sigiriya. Here, you will be able to visit many places of attraction that are sacred to the island's majority Buddhist population, such as: the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a.k.a. the Sacred Fig Tree which can be found in the Mahamewna Gardens of Anuradhapura; the Thuparamaya Buddhist dagoba whose present day structure only dates back the 19th century, but whose historical significance dates back to the time of the Indian King Ashoka, who is believed to have introduced Theravada Buddhism to Sri Lanka; and the Jetavanarama Stupa and Monastery, whose tallest stupa reaches a little over a hundred and twenty metres in height and around the same amount in diameter.


Aukana Buddha Statue

This well-preserved, massive Buddha statue towers over the land at a staggering thirteen metres high. It was constructed in the 5th century AD under the rule of King Dhatusena, and is a popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka today. This work of art was carved out of, or rather into, one piece of granite rock; a feat which no doubt required great artistic skill as well as an unimaginable amount of effort. The detailing on the statue is incredible; the multiple folds of the Buddha's robes have been painstakingly and precisely carved out, one line at a time. All things considered, it is not surprising that this monument is, therefore, considered a great tribute to the ancient Buddhist religion and culture. To reach this tourist attraction, you'll need to make a journey of around an hour or less from your accommodation in Sigiriya.


Minneriya National Park

Situated only around a fifteen minute car ride away from Sigiriya, the Minneriya National Park is home to a great number and variety of wildlife. The park began as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938 and was later inaugurated a national park in 1997. The species hosted here include over a hundred and sixty types of birds, twenty four types of mammals, a similar number of reptilian and fish varieties, nine varieties of amphibians and over seventy five kinds of butterflies. The park is especially known for the large elephant gatherings, considered one of the largest in Asia, that take place here when herds flock to the park. This occurs in the middle of the dry season during the months of August and September. Besides elephants, some of the other animals you'll find here are the local sloth bear, leopard and deer.