Sigiriya was not on “the list”… too expensive and too touristy, being the most visited site in Sri Lanka. But not everything happens as planned, and the fact that in Dambulla have found a comfortable place to stay made that the planned one-night stay was extended for two. And the fact that the entrance to the Cave Temples of Dambulla is free, created a kind of necessity to use the money and time in a “useful” way. Thus, the proximity from Dambulla, that make it possible for a day trip, imposed almost naturally visiting Sigiriya, that joined a certain challenge to climb the 200 meters that separate the top of the rock from the surrounding ground.
The balance was unsatisfactory, mainly due to the high number of visitors, which allowed not enjoy the space, but mainly by the behavior of some people, who disregard the fact of being a sacred place for Buddhists, as here was a monastery until XIV century, not deprive from smoking or drinking beer, practices which are prohibited on site.
The climb is subject to some tension with the jerks and the disregard for the order of the line while waiting to climb the narrow stairs; on the top of the atmosphere is euphoric with visitors trying to find the best place to take the selfies… but not everything was negative. The arrival at the top, which slid a gentle breeze can cool the sweaty body of the climb, which is not at all difficult but where the tropical heat makes the body heavy.
Resting under the protective shade of a tree, he saw the gentle climb of fog that blur the horizon, bringing definition to the contours of the mountains and the lakes nearby. Looking in the other direction the landscape of tropical green vegetation, torn here and there by the ferrous red soil, extends in an endless plain.
With the advance of the morning, which brought a blue sky and a bright sun, away from the morning mist, making the temperature rises, the Lion Rock watched calm the stampede of most visitors, provided a quiet stroll through the place where you can enjoy the ruins of what was once the palace of King Kasyapa that in the mid-first century AD here founded the capital of the Kingdom.
Like any Classified Patrimony by UNESCO in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya also has a high fee, 4200 LKR, around 27€, much more expensive than a ticket to visit the Louvre Museum (15€) or the Museum Vatican (16€). What makes the visit to the historical/tourist sites in Sri Lanka, for example, Sigirya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, more expensive than the most famous places in Europe.
Local people paid a derisory amount to visit Sigiriya of 50 LKR, equivalent to 0.30€) or is sometimes entitled to free entrance, as is the case of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Kandy.
The high value is to preserve the sites, yet there is not available relevant information is displayed, not being distributed any brochure or map that allows a better interpretation of the site.
Beyond the issue of discrimination in the ticket price, among locals and foreigners, who can be acceptable, the amounts charged to visitors are indeed too high, sometimes 90 times more expensive!!!!!… and all supported by UNESCO, which is funded by dozens of countries, including the countries of the “foreigners” who visit Sri Lanka!
Sigiriya Ticket: 4200 LKR ($30)
For those who are on a budget it makes no sense to climb the Lion Rock, is preferable to climb and visit the Pidurangala which costs 500 LKR, and from where you have a good observation point of the landscape and a privileged view of the Lion Rock.
To achieve Pidurangala, facing the Lion Rock entrance, you must turn left (there are a few signs) and walk along the road until you reach a place were some tuk-tuk are waiting. It takes more than 15 minutes to do all the walk.
Best time of day to visit Sigiriya:
According to the tour guides the best time to visit the Lion Rock is early morning, and as this is an advice followed by almost everybody, that makes the “early morning” period is the busiest time of day, with the peak of affluence between 9 am and 10 am … at 11 am is visible a significant decrease in visitors, with many going down and returning to tour buses, so at this time there is no line to enter or to climb the stairs of access the Lion Rock top.
The alternative is to arrive before the big tour groups, which usually come from Kandy and arrive close to 9 am, which means to reach the site at the time of opening. This option has the disadvantage of sometimes mornings are a bit cloudy that does not allow a clear view of the surrounding landscape.
As for the heat, argument pointed to go early, is somewhat indifferent given that even the morning temperatures are high enough to make anyone sweat dripping with the walk to reach the top of the rock.
For all this, the best is to arrive around 11 o’clock … and anyone interested can start early by visiting Pidurangala and then heading for the Lion Rock … it is an easy climb by stairs and ramps.
Where to stay in Sigiriya
Around the archeological zone, there are many options from hotels, resorts, boutique hotel, guest houses, etc …
The best option was to stay in Dambulla, where prices are lower, and where you can easily access the Cave Temple, staying at the familiar and pleasant Gold Rock Guest House. From Dambulla Bus Terminal, about 1.5 kilometers, buses run directly to Sigiriya, every 30 minutes. Opposite of the main entrance to the Cave Temples pass buses that stop at Dambulla Bus Terminal, that for 10 LKR, make easy to reach the bus terminal.
Gold Rock Guest House
Address: 45, Kandy Road, Dambulla
Contact: 066 2248 114, 71 118 8958
Email: [email protected]
Room for one person with bathroom: 1000 LKR
Where to eat in Sigiriya:
Next to the ticket office there is a cafeteria. There is no hawkers food in Sigiriya. Leaving Sigiriya, walked toward the national road (Anuradhapura Road) there are some restaurants serving local and international food at inflated prices.
So the best option was to buy food before starting the tour and savor it at the top of Lion Rock. Inside the bus terminal Dambulla, there are several stalls selling rotis, samosas and other snacks that can be easily packaged for takeaway making a tasty meal. At Kandy Road between the bus terminal and the Clocktower, there are some restaurants that offer a little more variety, with hoppers and string hoppers filled with a mixture of coconut and sugar…. delicious breakfast!
How to go from Dambulla to Sigiriya:
From Dambulla bus terminal departing every 30 minutes, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., buses to Sigiriya.
Bus Ticket Dambulla – Sigiriya: 40 LKR
The bus trip takes 1 hour to make the 18 kilometers that separate the two sites.
The bus drops passengers a short distance from the entrance, about 10 minutes of a quiet pleasant walk, where you nice views of the Lion Rock.
This bus has a stop on the National Highway (Trincomalee – Dambulla) so if you come by bus don’t not necessarily to go to Dambulla, can catch this bus at the entrance of Sigiriya Road (Inamaluwa Junction).
How to go from Sigiriya to Dambulla:
Leaving the Lion Rock, and walked back to the main road, ie first walked south and then east.
On the main road there is any bus stand or sign but just wait by the roadside for the bus back to Dambulla.