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Updated by Fritzjames Stephen on Jun 25, 2014
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5 Tips on Sigiriya Exploration - Guidelines on Touring Sri Lanka's Iconic Lion Rock

A UNESCO World Heritage Site like no other the Sigiriya Rock fortress is a monumental tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Make the most of your tour of the Lion Rock with the following guidelines.

1

Early Morning Journey

Early Morning Journey

Regardless of when one arrives in Sigiriya town, the best time to set off on the tour of the iconic rock fortress built in 473 AD is in the early morning hours and it's for one's own benefit. Exploring the ancient citadel of Sigiriya with its sprawling gardens and ponds and then making one's way up and down the Lion Rock is an excursion that takes hours and the journey would be that much more endurable without the harsh rays of a tropical sun weighing down on you. Avoiding the sweltering heat and set off on the climb in the early morning hours and enjoying the view atop the rock's summit and discovering its archaeological marvels at leisure is well worth the early wake up call. Those staying in a hotel Sigiriya ranks among its best situated rests will have a definite advantage in this regard.

2

Clear Your Itinerary, This Is No Small Stopover

Clear Your Itinerary, This Is No Small Stopover

Keep in mind that Sigiriya is at least a half a day's excursion. Spread out across a vast expanse with a 1200 foot tall rock at its centre and nearly 2 hectares covering the summit of the rock Sigiriya is a monumental attraction that will take a minimum of 4-5 hours to explore in its entirety. One must reach the entrance of the rock fortress after exploring its expansive gardens laden with ponds and other ruins. Ancient frescoes and the iconic Mirror Wall are just some of the attractions one comes across on the way to the top. Once the summit is reached, there are breathtaking views of the surrounding area, ruins of thrones, sky gardens and lotus ponds to admire before making the descent. With such innumerable points of interest it is vital that sufficient time is set aside to give this mammoth heritage site it's due attention. The more reputable hotels Sigiriya town has on offer will help one select a tour operator or introduce visitors to a guide to organize the day's activities.

3

Shutter Friendly Zone

Shutter Friendly Zone

A shutterbug's dream come true Sigiriya leaves amateur photographers wondering how to capture the magnitude of monumental edifice and provides seasoned professionals a sight that put their well-honed skills to the test. Unlike most heritage sites photography is allowed in almost all areas of the Sigiriya Rock fortress except the chamber in which the ancient murals of maidens are contained. Photography and especially flash photography is prohibited here as it is known to damage the delicate centuries old frescoes that have survived the test of time. Other highlights such as the Lion Platform, the Mirror Wall and the spectacular views from atop the fortress are at photographers' disposal and make for awe-inspiring souvenirs to share with friends back home.

4

It's a Long Way to the Top

It's a Long Way to the Top

Although climbing Sigiriya cannot be described as a strenuous or impossible feat, it is a difficult hike all the same. Not suitable to the physically unfit or the faint of heart the climb up to the summit of the Lion Rock presents its own share of challenges for some travellers. In spite of the fact that more than 1200 steps are laid out from the entrance to the summit, the climb is equivalent to navigating a 60 storey building using 60 flights of stairs. Tourists should not be discouraged however as unlike in a 60 storey building Sigiriya encompasses several plateau areas and the climb is wider in some regions than on others. Taking frequent breaks and keeping one's self hydrated is key to reaching the top without hassle or physical strain.

5

Don't Forget the Museum

Don't Forget the Museum

Finally, no visit to Sigiriya is complete without a stopover at the newly established Sigiriya Museum which is located near the main entrance to the fortress. Dedicated to exploring the cultural and historical significance of the World Heritage Site this informative and engaging museum with state-of-the-art exhibits and relics also encompasses a gift shop where souvenirs are available.