Sigiriya Lion Rock: In July 2016 I traveled through Sri Lanka for one week, on my first ever Solo Backpack Adventure across the beautiful and untouched landscape. Of all the hikes and adventures, SIGIRIYA was highlight of my trip in Sri Lanka
Sigiriya (Lion Rock) is an ancient rock fortress located near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. According to the ancient Sri Lankans, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (in 4th Century) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful paintings.
He built a gateway in the form of an enormous LION. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning.
VISITING SIGIRIYA BY LOCAL TRANSPORT FROM KANDY (BY BUS)
Travel Time: 4 hrs. (one side)
What to wear: T-Shirt, Shorts, Hat
Things to take: A Backpack, Enough water for hydration, Camera
1. Leaving from Kandy
Visiting Sigiriya Lion Rock by bus is cheap and easy. In order to avoid hike during peak hot time, you must take the earliest possible bus from Kandy Bus station which is at 5:30am. I missed that early morning bus and then had to wait for 2 hours to catch the next bus at 7.30am so better to wake-up as early as possible to catch 5.30am bus
2. Bus Journey from Kandy to Sigiriya
The bus fare is 120 Rs (1.0 USD) and it takes almost 4 hrs from Kandy to drop you at Sigiriya Bus stop. Below image is the exact location where the bus will drop you.
3. From Bus-stop to the Ticket-Booth
After getting off the bus you have to walk about 1.5km to the parking area and then take left and walk along the water channel
After almost 15 min walk you will reach at ticket booth
4. Purchasing Entry tickets to hike Sigiriya Lion Rock
The entrance ticket to hike Sigiriya rock is of 30 USD (4260 Rs) for adults and 15 USD for kids. However if you are from a SAARC country (i.e; Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives) then you can get the 50% discount but it is not mentioned anywhere at the booth.
I was not aware that Sigiriya has a “paid” hike so i reached there with only 3000 Rs in my pocket as i kept rest of my cash in Hostel Locker. If I wouldn’t from Pakistan, I could not have made this hike.I told the lady at counter that I have traveled about 4 hours all the way from Kandy and now have shortage of cash to purchase the ticket. The lady looked at my face and asked Are you Indian? . I said, No, Pakistani! Then she asked for the proof. Luckily I had my passport photocopy and original international license in my backpack at that time. After confirmation she told Sir! As you are from a SAARC country so you are allowed to enter by paying only half ticket. 🙂
5. Hiking Sigiriya Lion Rock
Going from Ticket booth to the top of the Lion rock takes almost 1 hour. It has straight path as well as rock constructed stairs which has almost 1200 steps.
As you ascend to the top you will see stunning views of greenry, cloudy sky, with high speed wind and a Bid Budha statue visible in the mid of the jungle.
After a hike of 30 min you will see the Mirror wall (which was used by King to see his reflection) and the paintings on the wall of the rock from the 4th century. It has a special spiral steel structure to climb and see those paintings.
After climbing half of the rock, you will reach at that iconic LION PAWS which was the gateway to the King’s palace.
Further going up through stair will take you at the top of the Lion Rock where once King Kasyapa had his Palace. All the way around 360 degrees you would love the stunning landscape. I had lot of photos at the top but here is my favorite one.
6. Coming Back to Kandy
Coming back from Sigiriya to Kandy was not same. There was no direct bus as before and I had to exchange 2 buses. So come to the same bus stop where you were dropped in the morning. The bus comes every 30 min. The First bus will take you from Sigiriya to Dambulla Town Bus Stop in 40 minutes and will charge 40 Rupees (0.25 USD). From there you have to take a 2nd bus to Kandy which takes around 3 hrs to drop you at Kandy Bus station in 90 Rupees (0.60 USD)