Wanderer Neha

"i haven't been everywhere but it's on my list."

Why You Need To Climb The Sigiriya Rock In Sri Lanka

If you know me you know how much I refrain from arduous physical activity. Even the latest shift as a traveler has hardly changed me. My peak high of any trip is when I'm leisurely plopped on a sunbed at the beach reading a book. And I want the time to stop. But it never does and so while planning Sri Lanka, I was nervous as to how I'll be able to fit all of the country's attractions in 7 days. There was no time for leisure.

Also, read: Make The Most Out Of Sri Lanka

The Build Up

Every travel blog/site out there recommended a trip to Sigiriya. But the catch was that visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site involved climbing 1200 steps. I made a mental note to skip it instantly. That, however, isn't a choice when you are traveling with your well-read friends. And I didn't want to come across as weak. 

sigiriya sri lanka

What were the odds that our trip to Sigiriya was scheduled on the morning of my 25th birthday. 2016 was the year when I had decided that I'll no longer spend my birthdays getting wasted at the bars. Be careful what you wish for, they say. The night before the hike we all put on a brave face, cut short on celebrations and went to bed early. I was freaking out and I know my friends were too. At least a little.

So on the morning of December 15, 2016, we packed breakfast and set out on our day trip from Kandy to Sigiriya. It was approximately 90 km and took us around 2 hours to reach. 

We arrive at the scene to meet fellow travelers brimming with excitement to make the climb. I knew I would see a different face once we were halfway through the hike. 

Though my complete focus was on staying positive about the climb, the history of Sigiriya has much significance. This rock fortress was known to be chosen by King Kasyapa who built his palace on the top and is a splendid example of ancient urban planning. It was then converted into a Buddhist monastery (13th century). It's always mind-boggling for me to come across this part of history where architecture was so elaborative and futuristic (just like the Harappan civilization!).

sigiriya sri lanka 

The Climb

The base of the rock is surrounded by vast expanses of gardens which were built during the King's era. This is where you are introduced to the first set of stairs to climb. You will come across caves and boulders on the initial path.

sigiriya sri lanka

sigiriya sri lanka

sigiriya sri lanka

sigiriya sri lanka

sigiriya sri lanka

The climb gets tougher after this point. Next, you will come across the Mirror Wall and the world-renowned paintings of Sigiriya which date back from the 5th century A.D. I don't have any pictures from this stretch as I was busy catching my breath!

The final ascent to the royal palace on the rock summit is through a gateway which lies dramatically between the paws of a huge crouched lion figure.

Voila! I've reached the top of Sigiriya Rock. You would believe that one would scramble to find a spot to sit, now that they made it to the top. But the views are so breathtaking to waste any minute that you are out there. 

sigiriya sri lanka

sigiriya sri lanka

I'm the kind of traveler who tends to avoid the typical tourist traps since I hate crowds. Despite that, if I had to suggest one thing to do in Sri Lanka, it would be visiting Sigiriya. It' not about climbing 1200 steps. It's not about the history. It's about the memories you'll make while you conquer the rock with your friends. It's about the people you'll meet on this journey. It's about the views that await you on the top which will instantly send you into contemplation mode.   

sigiriya sri lanka

And it wasn't so tough! Coming from a couch potato, you have to believe it. You'll meet kids and old people on the way up and wonder what were you obsessing over all the while.  

Sigiriya is permanently engraved in the list of my favorite travel moments thus far.

sigiriya sri lanka

Things to note:

  • If you want to avoid long journeys before the climb, consider staying at Dambulla. Dambulla to Sigiriya is 8km
  • Entrance fee for SAARC nations is USD 15 (carry your passport!) while citizens of the other countries have to pay USD 30
  • Carry minimum baggage. A bottle of water and camera should suffice
  • Wear loose cotton clothes and basic sport shoes
  • Best time to visit is January to March
  • Start the climb early to beat the crowd and also the sun

Are you stoked to visit Sigiriya on your trip to Sri Lanka?

Also, read: My Sri Lankan Trail



Go Back