Embarking on the second leg of my day filled with adventure, I found myself standing in awe before the ancient marvel, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, also known as the Lion Rock. The history embedded in this fortress dates back to the 5th century, unfolding a tale of power, betrayal, and the eventual rise of this iconic citadel.

As my guide shared the riveting story during our journey to the fortress, it became evident that this was not just a rock formation but a witness to a dramatic saga. King Kashyapa’s quest for power led him to commit a heinous act—murdering his father, King Dhatusena, and usurping the throne from his half-brother Mogallana. The rightful heir, Mogallana, fled to India, biding his time to reclaim his birthright.

Kashyapa, in a bid to fortify his position and protect himself from Mogallana’s impending return, constructed the pleasure palace atop Sigiriya. This fortress, surrounded by swimming pools, fountains, and archeological wonders, served as his protective haven. However, the history took a turn as Mogallana returned, declared war, and defeated Kashyapa. The fortress, once a symbol of power, was then handed over to Buddhist monks to be used as a monastery.

The climb to the top of the Lion Rock commenced, and the guide encouraged me, unraveling the layers of history as we ascended the 1,200 steps. The remnants of the palace were far from opulence; instead, the plain surface revealed ruined pools and remnants of rooms that once housed the king. The sculpted lion’s head that once graced the entrance had collapsed over the years, leaving behind a haunting reminder of the past.

The journey revealed more intriguing elements—a cave adorned with graffiti depicting around 500 ladies, a large mirror wall, and meticulously designed water gardens, boulder gardens, and terraced gardens. Despite the physical exhaustion of the climb, reaching the summit provided a sense of triumph. The panoramic view from the top, unparalleled in its beauty, offered an indescribable experience, prompting the locals to proudly proclaim this structural marvel as their “Eighth among the World Wonders.”

For those considering a climb to Sigiriya, I share a few mountaineering tips:

  1. Early Morning Ascent: Start your climb early to avoid the heat that intensifies during the day.
  2. Hydration is Key: Carry an ample supply of water to stay hydrated.
  3. Sun Protection: Bring a hat or umbrella for shade, as the top offers no respite from the sun.
  4. Pre-Hike Pit Stop: Visit the restroom before heading uphill.
  5. Footwear Matters: Wear solid shoes with good grip for the climb.
  6. Sunscreen Essentials: Apply sunscreen to protect your skin.
  7. Take Breaks: Pace yourself and take breaks to enjoy the journey.
  8. Embrace the Experience: Most importantly, relish the hike and the historical voyage it offers!

As I stood atop the Lion Rock, the culmination of history and nature, I couldn’t help but reflect on the profound truth—the past, sometimes, is not merely contained in books but etched onto rocks for us to learn. Our identity is shaped by the history coursing through our veins, a lesson vividly presented on the monumental canvas of Sigiriya.

“Entrance of Crocodile Pool”

“Swimming Pool”

“Sigiriya Rock”

“Beehive in Rock”

“Paintings on the rock”

“Finally on top of Rock”

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