Sigiriya: Climb 1200 Steps to the Stunning ‘Ancient Rock Fortress’ of Sri Lanka

by Travelature Team

Sigiriya is a famous Rock Fortress built in ancient times (referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World) by King Kashyapa which is 660 feet straight up. One of the major specialities that make tourists wonder is that there are 1200 steps that you should climb up to reach the Sigiriya which is also known as Lion’s Rock.

As it is a palace built in ancient times and was inscribed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1982 with the name “Ancient City of Sigiriya Sri Lanka”, it is one of the most attractive places by foreign tourists and travellers. 

History Of Ancient Rock Fortress

History Of Ancient Rock Fortress In Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The historical research carried out at the site has found some evidence related to the origin of Sigiriya date back to prehistoric times. Located at the base of the Sigiriya rock on its eastern side, there is a monastery called Aligala (Elephant Rock)

Excavations under the cave revealed remains of the human settlements which were around 5,500 years old. In the 3rd century BC Buddhist monastery was established at Sigiriya rock fortress, the researchers identified thirty cave shelters that accommodated the monks at the rock base.

Places To Visit While You Are In Sigiriya:

8. Spice Garden Inamaluwa

Spice Garden Inamaluwa | Places To Visit While You Are In Sigiriya

The Spice Garden, located in the Inamaluwa region, has a wide range of spices, like nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and many more. Travellers can visit the garden to see how spices are grown on a large scale, which can contribute to some knowledge.

7. Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park | Places to Visit near ancient rock fortress

Minneriya National Park is famous for the gathering of elephants that migrate for water, food, and shelter as its herds. To visit this place and watch the elephants, the best time to choose is the dry season (May to September) — that time the elephants migrate for water to the Minneriya Tank. It was built by King Mahasena and derives water from the Amban River, and the Elahera Canal.

This region comes under a dry zone, which means it receives less rainfall compared to other regions of Sri Lanka. The National park also has different types of reptiles, animals, birds, different plant species, etc.

This Elephant Gathering is a thrilling spectacle that would be remembered for the rest of the life of all those who were fortunate enough to witness it.

6. Golden Temple of Dambulla

Golden Temple of Dambulla | Places To Visit While You Are In Sigiriya, Srlanka

The Golden Temple of Dambulla (Dambulla Cave Temple) is one of the most preserved temples, and this cave temple comprises numerous Buddha statues.

5. Sigiriya Museum

Sigiriya Museum | Ancient Rock Fortress in Srilanka | Places To Visit While You Are In Sigiriya

The Sigiriya Museum has a good collection of exhibits from prehistoric times to the time when the Rock Fortress was built. The museum was established in the year 2009 and is located at the base of the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

4. Pidurangala Rock


Pidurangala Rock is a few kilometres away from the famous UNESCO site. The Pidurangala Rock is also called the Sister Rock of Sigiriya, and it is known for the view of Sigiriya Rock that we get from the top of the rock.

3. Royal Gardens

Image/Wiki Commons/@Bernard Gagnon        

The beautiful view of the Royal gardens surrounding the ancient Sigiriya is something you should not miss while visiting the palace. The landscape of the gardens is something that you indeed watch.

2. Lion's Paws

Lion’s paws are one of the most significant historical structures that you get to witness at the ancient Sigiriya fortress. The gigantic paws, situated on two sides of the staircases lead to the palace.

1. Sigiriya Rock

The lion rock, built in an ancient time, consists of many historical pieces of evidence such as ruins of the palaces, gardens, the Lion gate, etc., and is one among the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.

At the entrance of the Lion gate, lion claws carved in the front is the reason behind the name of this place. You can reach this place from the town of Dambulla or Habarana by bus or train.

How To Reach Sigiriya

Sigiriya is located 175 kilometres northeast of Colombo–the capital of the island, and 10 kilometres from the highway Ambepussa–Kurunegala–Trincomalee, located between the towns of Dambulla and Habarana. To get there by car, you must take track A1 or A6.

The best way to get there by public transportation is to take a bus from Dambulla. There is a bus every 30 minutes starting from 7 am.

The trip will take approximately 40 minutes. A staircase of 1200 steps leads to the highest point of Sigiriya. The way from the bottom to the top lasts approximately two hours.

Some Tips To Follow While You Climb The Sigiriya Rock

The difficulty that we might face is climbing the 1200 steps of the Rock Fortress, but by following some of the tips you can surely overcome those:

  • Climb the Sigiriya rock early in the morning to avoid crowding, also the heat felt during the daytime.
  • Try to carry plenty of water as it is necessary while you climb the rock.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen.
  • Wear the dress and sneakers that you find comfortable while travelling or walking through those places.

Entrance Fee

  • Locals can enter the site after they pay Rs. 50 entrance fee. Foreigners will have to pay USD 30$.
  • This will also grant access to the Sigiriya Museum.

Opening Times

The ancient site is open every day from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM (the last entrance at 5:00 PM).

Content Curator & Creative Writer

Juhi Chakravertty

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