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Updated by Joanna James on Sep 13, 2018
Headline for Must Visit Places Around Sigiriya -An Ancient Rock Fortress & Other Wonders
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Must Visit Places Around Sigiriya -An Ancient Rock Fortress & Other Wonders

Sigiriya is famous for its spectacular rock fortress that is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. But there are other wonders that are worth checking out in addition to the fortress.

1

Lion's Rock

Let's begin at the top. The Lion's Rock or the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a 5th Century masterpiece of a fortress built by the wayward King Kasyapa. The fortress/ palace complex is built on top of a massive column of rock that is 660 feet in height, and is surrounded by beautiful gardens that historians say are "among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world". The entrance to the fortress comprises of a humongous pair of lion's paws which gives the site its name as Sigiriya in Sinhalese means Sinha Giri or Lion's Rock. During your climb to the top, you will encounter two of Sigiriya's best highlights. One of them is the dazzling Mirror Wall decorated with poems and graffiti by ancient tourists. Please do not add any to it as it is illegal. The beautiful frescoes of women said to be either King Kasyapa's royal harem or goddesses from heaven; is one of the other highlights of Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

2

Dambulla Cave Temple

This is located about 30 minutes away from Sigiriya in the town of Dambulla, in the central province of the island. There are buses as well as tuk-tuks that will take you here. However, if you wish to avoid any hassle, tours to the site are usually organized by resorts like Sigiriya Jungles, or any other reputed Sigiriya hotel. In Sri Lanka, you will find thousands of Buddhist temples scattered across, but the Dambulla Cave Temple is one of the most notable and famous of all. Dating as far back as the 1st Century BCE, the temple is said to be the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Inside five of its caves, you will find a spectacular collection of colourful and impressive murals and statues depicting the life of the Gautama Buddha.

According to the ancient chronicles, the temple was built by the great King Valagamba, who sought refuge here while preparing war against invaders. After winning the war, the king built the temple in an act of gratitude to the monks who provided him sanctuary.

3

Pidurangala Rock

Standing very close to the Lion's Rock, Pidurangala is one of the attractions in Sigiriya that is often overlooked, and this is sad because it has quite an interesting history as well. According to the scriptures, in order to build his dream fortress/ palace; King Kasyapa "moved" the monks living in the caves around Sigiriya to a refurbished and enlarged monastery in Pidurangala. The ruins of this monastery can still be found and some of them include a Buddha Statue. The name Pidurangala itself is interesting as in Sinhalese it means "pidu + ran + goda" which can be translated to "offered piles of gold".

4

Minneriya National Park

Also just a 30-minute drive from Sigiriya, the Minneriya National Park is one of the best places to see the magnificent Sri Lankan elephant in the wild. The park is home to an extraordinary collection of wild animals which consists of 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 26 species of fish, 9 species of amphibians, and 75 species of butterflies. The park is world famous for its elephant gathering that takes place during the dry season which is the time between the months of May and September. During this time, you will be able to see large herds consisting of about 150-200 elephants.

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