Hidden away in the jungles of Central Sri Lanka is a truly unique boulder. The rock temple fortress known as Sigiriya Rock Fortress & City, or Sigiriya Lion Rock is a mixture of a natural phenomenon combined with a curious story. In 476AD King Dhatusena ruled over Sri Lanka. Kashyapa, one of Dhatusena’s illegitimate sons wanted the throne, but was inline behind his full blood brother, Moggallana. Along with the commander of the Sri Lankan Army, they concocted a plan to murder his father and brother, leaving Kashyapa free to take the throne.
He murdered his father, however his half-brother Moggallana managed to escape to South India. Out of fear for a revenge attack from Moggollana, the now self-proclaimed king, Kashyapa built himself a safe haven in the form of Sigiriya Rock Fortress. He built this fortress on a rock plateau that was formed out of magma from an extinct volcano, some 200 meters above the ground below.
King Kashyapa chose the rock for its obvious strategic advantage. Its height gave it a full 360 ° of the view below. And its steep slopes and limited entrances meant that it was easy to defend. Over the next 18 years Sigiriya Rock Fortress began to prosper, creating a thriving center for the new royalty.
In 495AD Moggallana returned to reclaim the throne that was rightfully his. A huge battle took place with many fatalities. Kashyapa’s armies however, misinterpreted a mid-battle change of position as his retreat. They started to retreat as well leaving him fight for himself. Completely surrounded, and being too proud to surrender, Kashyapa slit his own throat ending his reign.
Getting to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
It’s not hard to get to Sigiriya. Buses run from most major cities to Dambulla. Check bus times at busbooking.lk. The journey from Colombo is 4 and a half hours. Local buses run from Dambulla to Sigiriya, starting at around 7am. The last bus back is at 6pm, don’t miss it unless you’re staying in Sigiriya or you’ll need to get a rickshaw, or walk the 25km back to Dambulla. Buses cost 40Rs each way, where as a richshaw will cost upto 1000Rs each way.
Where to Stay Near Sigiriya Rock Fortress
There’s plenty of accommodation options in and around Sigiriya. Accommodation vary’s in standary and price. Prices start at around USD$10 per night for a simple homestay such as the Sigiri Lake Lodge, and go up to USD$300 + per night for the rather fabulous Wild Grass Nature Resort. Those with a budget that will stretch USD $25 per night should check out the Sigiri Sara Home Stay. This little gem is hidden in the jungle, surrounded by wildlife, and run by Sara and his family, who are friendliest hosts imaginable!
Getting in Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Entrance Fees – You’ll pay a lot more as a tourist – you have been warned.
Foreigners rate – Rs 4200
Locals rate – Rs50
Opens 7:00 AM
Closed 5:30 PM – Last Entry 5:00pm
Approx 4 hours