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Hiking Sigriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka

Sigriya Rock Travel Guide

If a favorite pastime of yours is to explore and climb rock formations, Sigiriya Rock is your go-to place as it is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions. It’s a massive rock fortress that stands 200 meters high (600 feet) where a palace was built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century. It’s also said that it’s the place where he buried his father before he ascended the throne. The gateway to the fortress is guarded by huge lion paws.

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After King Kashyapa’s death, the palace was abandoned then used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. The ruins that you see today still draws attention from crowds from across the globe. With its frescoes, ponds, and canals, the place still has its own appeal more so if you’re into history. 

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How to get to Sigriya

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Sigriya Rock

If you’re booked at any of the hotels in Sigiriya, it’s easy to get a ride via taxi to the base of the rock.  Most people go to Sigriya via an organized tour. You can be coming from either Dambulla or Habarana.

The entrance fee is 4,500 Rs. ($30). So, if you’re looking to save more money, the perfect alternative would be to climb Pidurangala Rock which is adjacent to Sigiriya Rock. The entrance to the latter costs 500 Rs. ($3).

What to bring and What to wear for your Sigriya Climb?

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July to September have favorable weather and are the best months for the climb.  Wear comfy clothes and keep in mind that It can get very windy at the top.  I wore a short dress, and it kept flying in the wind so, I was a bit distracted trying to hold it down.  There isn’t a dress code unlike in Dambulla or other temples of Sri Lanka, here, you can wear whatever you want. Keep in mind though that the “hike” can be very hot and then quickly change to really windy at the top. 

Unlike climbing Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya doesn’t have much foliage to keep you shaded during the climb.  But when you reach the cave area, then there’s a bit of air to cool you down.  A bottle of sunscreen will come in handy since the hour climb can extend to three hours due to the long lines.It is a popular hike after all. 

A pair of comfy shoes or sandals will do as the climb up isn’t as challenging as that of Pidurangala Rock.  Even children and elderly ones can join as there are stairs all the way up.   I walked with my sandals but then it’s still best to do it with proper shoes. 

What is the Best time to go Hiking Sigriya Rock?

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At the top of Sigriya Rock in Sri Lanka

The fortress opens at 7 AM and closes at 7 PM. It’s best to go early before the crowds begin to build. It’s also the best time to take pictures with the mountains as the perfect backdrop. Once the crowds start increasing, the long lines all the way up could become tiring.  The trek that usually takes an hour can extend to three hours as the steps up are narrow, and you’d have to wait until the other tourists at the top are done viewing the place. So, bring snacks and water. There is a water refill station too as you near the top, but it is surrounded by wasps. I had to let our guide refill the water for me.  Bring your allergy meds too in case you get stung.

Hiking Sigriya Rock
Waiting for the queue in Sigriya Rock

Climbing on the weekday when there are fewer people is a great plan as the crowds do get heavy during the weekends and holidays. Otherwise, you’d need a lot of patience.

You also don’t need a guide to take you around. It’s pretty straight forward and there are signages that are clear and easy to follow.   What the guide told us though is that there is a line for the locals and there is a line at the back that can only be used by foreigners. So that’s where we went, especially since it was a Sunday and a holiday, the lines for the locals were horrendous.  If you go alone, you may want to ask where these staircases are. It will merge eventually but at least you get to a certain point without the lines already. Things-to-do-in-Dambulla-Karlaroundtheworld

I must say that the travel up was still worth the wait. The pictures from atop the rock are breathtaking as you take in the lush gardens, fountains, and vibrant frescoes on the walls. The only downside to this climb was the inability to take a picture of the entire rock itself. It’s just not possible to take it during the climb. That is why doing so from Pidurangala Rock was on my agenda. It was the perfect vantage point.

Tips while Climbing up Sigriya Rock

  1. Make sure you go to the bathroom while you’re still at the base. There won’t be any on your way up.
  2. It’s also a natural habitat for a few monkeys. They’re harmless unless threatened. So just let them be.
  3. Lastly, there are warning signs for areas you can’t take pictures of like the wall frescoes.  Keep them away if you don’t want your phones or cameras confiscated. I assure you they will not be returned. They do check your pictures if they spot you. 
  4. There are areas that warns you to be silent because of the wasp, they are there for a reason, so it’s best be silent. 
  5. There is usually a long queue to the caves where the paintings exist ( you cannot photograph this). If you  want to see the paintings then stay in the queue but if you want to just go through and make it to the top, there is another line for it ( usually, no queue) so just ask the guard and they will take you to another line, passing through the mirror wall and then to the top. 
  6. You may need a lot of patience as it moves really slow. I honestly was close to saying, I didn’t need to go to the top but then there are rewards for patience. You paid anyway, so might as well make it there right? 

Keep in mind that Sigriya rock is one of the important ones in Sri Lanka thus, the attraction itself garners a lot of local tourists apart from the international ones. So despite having to queue, prepare for it and be patient. 

Still planning to go to Sigriya Rock? Tell me about your experience. 

 

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