After waking up to the sound of birds and a blanket of mist over the lake we had breakfast we drove to the ancient city of Sigiriya build in the 5th century A.D. We of course stopped to photograph a few birds along the way! I’m glad I decided to bring my Tamron 150-600mm lens!
The name Sigiriya comes from two Sinhalese words meaning ‘lion rock’. The rock itself rises 200m above the plains around it where the city was built. After walking through the ancient gardens and ruins of the city complex and climbing a little more than halfway up the side of the rock, there is a gallery of 18 surviving frescos (all topless women – proving men have not changed in centuries!). To reach the gallery you go up a spiral staircase and then back down another. You are not allowed to photograph the frescos but images can be found in books and online. We then walked passed the mirror wall. This protective wall was polished with beeswax until you could see your reflection. Now, you can only see this polish in a few places and are not allowed to touch it so as not to ruin it with graffiti (some found is as old as the 8th century!) Near the top of the rock, on the north side is a small plateau where the lion’s feet still stand. You climb the stairs between the paws and try to imagine the grandeur of when the whole body and head was still there. Nothing it left of the top part of the entrance to the palace that sits on top of the rock but at least there is a sturdy metal staircase. After a somewhat gruelling climb right to the top, you are rewarded with stunning views of the surrounded plains and mountains in the distance and begin to explore the labyrinth of ruins still found included walls, wells, pools, stairs and even the king’s throne. It is incredible! Sri Lankans call it the 8th wonder of the world and it can be found on many Top 10 sites to visit in your lifetime up there with Angor Wat and Machu Picchu.
After filling our memory cards, we climbed back down and walked past more ruins on our way to the car park. We made a stop for some fresh king coconut water. So much better than the bottled stuff! Because it’s under pressure, stand back when they punch the hole in the top or you risk getting sprayed!
After lunch we did a little more bird watching at a nearby dam then, back at the hotel, we were treated to a much needed Ayurvedic massage before spending the afternoon relaxing by the pool. Tomorrow we visit another ancient UNESCO World Heritage site – Polonnawura.