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Updated by Joanna James on Dec 13, 2018
Headline for Things to See in Sigiriya – Sri Lanka's most Fascinating of Sights
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to See in Sigiriya – Sri Lanka's most Fascinating of Sights

Rising to over 200m, Sigiriya is one of the most dramatic sights in the country. What was once the epicentre of a kingdom now serves as a spellbinding glimpse into Sri Lanka's rich history.

1

Frescoes

The frescoes in Sigiriya are well famed and for good reason. The paintings are of women and can be found in a little depression halfway up the rock. Believe to be around one thousand six hundred years old, historians are still unsure of their identities. Some historians believe that the paintings are of celestial nymphs, some suggest the paintings describe concubines while a few others think they are exhibitions of the deity Tara. Shielded away from the sun, these frescoes are still in great condition, especially when you consider the age. The frescoes look best during the late afternoons. Keep in mind that you are not permitted to take pictures of the paintings.

2

Visit the summit

Covering around one and a half hectares, the summit is a spectacular sight, although you will have to put up with a tough walk to the top. This is the location where King Kasyapa's fortress and pleasure palace was built. Although much of it has fallen to ruin, the remaining structures are still impressive. The grounds are well manicured while many pools and ponds litter the summit. Moreover, the spectacular views of the lush foliage stretching on for miles from atop are captivating, to say the least. With the ruins of a dagoba, a throne and meditation spots, the summit gives an incredible peek into King Kasyapa's short lived kingdom.

3

Scale Pidurangula

Pidurangala is a lesser known rock that sits around one kilometre away from Sigiriya. Its major attraction is the beautiful view it offers of its more famed neighbour. The hike to the top will take the average person around twenty minutes. Most Sri Lanka resorts, for example, such as Cinnamon Lodge Habarana offer excursions to the rock. The hike up to the peak will have you passing many temples, a twelve-metre-tall Buddha statue and other interesting sights. The majorities of visitors arrives during sunset, and if you are doing the same, make it a point to bring a flashlight with you. You will thank me for it during your trip down. However, consider going there for the sunrise. It is an equally magnificent sight and is likely to have a lesser crowd too, which might suit some people.

4

Royal Gardens

Because visitors give all their attention to Sigiriya and its summit, the area around the rock is a beautiful landscape that goes below most visitors' radar. Ideal for those looking for something to explore away from the crowd, the grounds consist of well kept gardens and many other man-made structures that just add to the overall natural beauty of the area. You will also come across many water gardens that consist of bathing pools, all surrounded by a landscaped garden. Walk a bit further and you will come across a boulder garden that was once the site of many Buddhist monasteries.