Sigiriya Sri Lanka, is a captivating UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is also considered to be the 8th wonder of the world. The ancient rock fortress stands tall, surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views. It’s the most dramatic sight in the country with an even more dramatic legend associated with it. But we’ll get to that later. Towering around 200 meters in height with a flat-topped summit, you’ll get to witness the ruins of an ancient civilization dating back to around 477-495 AD. King Kasyapa chose this location as his new capital, and that’s how this fortress came into being. So, let’s know more about this enigma.

Sigiriya Sri Lanka: The Crown Jewel of Sri Lankan History

Sigiriya Sri Lanka

Sigiriya, also known as the Lion’s Rock due to the lion’s claws at the entrance is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. The name of this fortress is also derived from Sihagri, which means Lion Rock. There are several tourist spots to explore here, apart from the ruins.

Made from the magma of an extinct volcano, this is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. This rock was turned into a Buddhist monastery after Kasyapa’s death and was abandoned by the 14th century.

Here are some basic details about Sigiriya rock fortress in Sri Lanka.

Location: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Timings: 6:30 A.M to 5:30 P.M

Ticket price: Around QAR 50 onwards

How to reach:

Air: The fastest way to reach Sigiriya is by taking a flight from Colombo to Sigiriya, which will take around 30 minutes.

Train: You can also travel via train from nearby cities like Dambulla or Habarana. If you’re traveling from Colombo, then you can board a train from Colombo Fort railway station to Habrana.

Road: Another way is to opt for a bus from nearby cities like Kandy, Dambulla, etc.

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Past of Rock Fortress Sigiriya

Sigiriya Fortress

As I mentioned earlier, the Sigiriya fortress Sri Lanka has a penchant for drama due to its legendary past. There are several versions of this attraction’s history, and each one is as fascinating as the other.

So, one version of the past events sets Sigiriya around 50 years back, when it was known as Alakamandawa. It’s believed that Ravana’s brother, Kubera/ Waisrwana was the owner of this ancient city, according to the Indian epic, Ramayana. He built his grand palace at the summit.

However, Ravana had later banished Kubera and brought Sigiriya under his control as well. It’s believed that the flat top is where Ravana’s majestic palace rested. There’s also a version of this legend where Kubera crafted Ravana’s palace with solid gold in Sigiriya.

In another version of events according to the Mahāvaṃsa, it has come to light that this enigmatic rock is the result of the rivalry between two brothers. The story starts with King Dhatusena, who was the king of Anuradhapura from 455 to 473AD. His first son, Kasyapa was born to a non-ruling caste woman, but the second son, Moggallana was born to the royal wife and was deemed to be the heir. Dhatusena’s daughter was married off to his nephew, Migara, who used to physically abuse her. Therefore, the king burned Migara’s mother alive in retaliation.

Now, Migara in a fit of revenge, poisoned Kasyapa’s mind into believing that he should be the next-in-line to become king and should also inherit the royal treasure. However, when Kasyapa asked his father to reveal the treasure, Dhatusena simply took him to one of his water tanks and said “my friends, these alone are the riches I possess” because king Dhatusena prided upon creating an advanced irrigation system for the city.

Kasyapa wasn’t convinced by his answer and ordered the king to be put to death. Afterwards, Kasyapa became the king and Mogallana fled to South India. However, this act of patricide didn’t bode well with the kingdom’s subjects. So, out of fear of retaliation from the subjects and the return of Mogallana, Kasyapa decided to establish a capital in Sigiriya in 477 CE.

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Attractions in Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress

Attractions in Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress

One of the things to do in Sri Lanka is exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Sigiriya. So, here are some of the most breathtaking attractions in this fortress.

1. Lion Paws: The first thing that you’ll see when visiting this destination are the paws of the lion. A British archaeologist, HCP Bell came across these paws when excavating in 1898. The entrance of the fortress is near these paws, which resembled a lion’s paw in the old days, but couldn’t withstand the effects of time. As you enter, there are metal stairs that take you to the top of the fortress.

2. Sigiriya Boulder Gardens: As you make your way to the Lion’s Rock, you’ll walk past gorgeous gardens, beautifying the entire place with its lush greenery. The beautiful water gardens, caves, and boulder gardens are some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

3. Sigiriya Museum: Established in 2009, the Sigiriya Museum is located at the base of the Sigiriya Fortress in Sri Lanka. You’ll find artefacts, photographs, informative videos, and much more regarding this ancient city’s history. However, what will leave you dumbfounded is their accurate recreation of the frescoes in the fortress. This museum was funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and is ideal for those who wish to understand this fortresses’ history in more detail.

4. Frescoes: As you walk around the ruins, you’ll notice the western walls adorned with several frescoes, out of which only 18 are still intact. One of the frescoes depicts a naked woman, thought to be the wife and concubine of Kasyapa. Another one depicts a priest carrying out religious rites. What you’ll notice the most here is the celebration of women’s beauty.

5. Mirrored Walls: The mirrored walls here are the most loved attractions here and it’s believed that the king could see his reflection in them in the old days. These walls were painted with inscriptions and poems, with one of them dating back to the 9th century and it states, “Sigiriya was a tourist destination more than a thousand years ago.

Places to Visit in Sigiriya

Even though the rock fortress in this city is one of the major forts in Sri Lanka for tourists, it’s not the only attraction that this city is home to. Here are some of the top tourist destinations in Sigiriya you must visit.

1. Pidurangala Rock

You can consider Pidurangala as the vantage point for Sigiriya fortress as it offers stunning views of the entire fortress from the top. It’s only a few kms away from it and is a breathtaking place for nature lovers. There’s a white temple located at the base of the rock, which features a reclining Buddha under an ancient boulder. Also known as the sister Rock of Sigiriya, the hike to the top is a must if you wish to enjoy the magnificent views. To avoid crowds, start your hike early in the morning or late afternoon.

Timings: 9 A.M to 5 P.M

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 4 km

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2. Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

Here’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. It’s one of the most extensive cave temple complexes, which has withstood the test of time. If you’re on your honeymoon in Sri Lanka, then it’s a must visit. It includes five caves with statues of Lord Buddha or Lord Vishnu, and you can reach here by climbing the Dambulla Rock. You can also get a gorgeous view of the fortress from the top. The best part is that each cave has different names based on what it depicts, and they were built at different points in history, so you’ll actually witness the evolution of this city and its culture here. This cave temple is also a part of the Cultural Triangle, which consists of the town of Sigiriya, Dambulla, and the city of Kandy.

Timings: 7 A.M to 7 P.M

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 20 km

3. Minneriya National Park

 Minneriya National Park

If elephants are your soul animals, then this national park is a must visit. You can witness herds of elephants migrating for food, water, and shelter. However, there are several other mammals, birds, reptiles, and plant species to marvel at. The best time to visit this park is during the dry season as that’s when you can see the elephants gathering and migrating to colder areas. In 1938, this place was a wildlife sanctuary, but was later converted into a national park to protect the flora and fauna here.

Timings: 6 A.M to 6:30 P.M

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 16 km

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4. Polonnaruwa

When it comes to Polonnaruwa, this ancient city is another historic kingdom after Anuradhapura, which was under the Chola Empire in the 10th century. The city is divided into two, with one section known as the Polonnaruwa new town as it has developed infrastructurally and the other section is the Old Site, which houses ancient ruins. The Old Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it consists of remains that date back to 800 years. The highlight of your visit will be the famous quadrangle, though, which includes

  • Polonnaruwa Vatadage: The sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined here
  • Thuparama: It houses crystalline limestone Buddhas that sparkle in contact with natural light
  • Nissanka’s Lotus Pavillion: The stone pillars are shaped and decorated in a way that they resemble the lotus stalks rising upwards
  • Shiva Devala No. 1 and No. 2: These are the most well-preserved Hindu shrines

Best time to visit: November to March

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 59 km

5. Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park

This reserve was given the title of a national park in 2002 and is connected to the Somawathie Chaitiya Park and the Minneriya Wildlife Park. Even here you can see the herd of elephants, around 350 of them wandering around their natural habitat. You’ll find animals ranging from endemic to endangered, as well as a variety of birds. As for the flora, there’s a blend of dry mixed evergreen forests, chena lands, grasslands and wetlands that you’ll witness here. You can get a local guide to show you the ropes or local animal experts to help you interact with the fauna here.

Timings: 6 A.M to 6 P.M

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 29 km

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6. Spice Garden Inamaluwa

Spice Garden Inamaluwa
Image is for reference purpose only

Sri Lanka is famous for its spices, and you won’t find better spices than at this spice garden, which includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, and cinnamon. You can get an idea on how these spices are grown and even get a taste of the fresh produce.

Best time to visit: Early morning or afternoon

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 10 km

7. Anuradhapura


Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, one that boasts of Sri Lanka’s rich culture and history. It was also Sri Lanka’s capital and has been a witness to the rise and fall of various kingdoms. This city was also the Buddhist center for pilgrimage and learning, so you’ll stumble upon various stupas, ruins of palaces, intricately carved monoliths, and other remnants that hint to the existence of an advanced civilization here. Another place of interest here is the Sri Maha Bodhi, which is a sacred fig tree, believed to be sprouted here from the cutting of the Bodhi tree in India, where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

Best time to visit: April to September

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 74 km

8. Ritigala


This hilly forest and Buddhist worship place is located between Polonnaruwa and the old town of Anuradhapura. The entire place is surrounded by Ritigala trees, towering to a height of around 40 m. The Buddhist monastery here showcases inscriptions that date back to the 1st century BC. As for all the adventure enthusiasts, you can also enjoy trekking up the Ritigala Kanda, the highest peak in the Ritigala Mountain range. Here’s another fascinating legend about this place; it’s believed that an herb known as Sansevi grows here, which gives eternal life on consumption.

Timings: 8 A.M to 5 P.M

Distance from Sigiriya: Approx. 46 km

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Hotels in Sigiriya

Hotels in Sigiriya

Staying in comfortable accommodation is an integral part of your entire vacation experience. So, consider choosing one of these hotels in the city to make your trip worthwhile.

  1. Aliya Resort and Spa
  2. Sigiriya Village Hotel
  3. Jetwing Vil Uyana
  4. Water Garden Sigiriya
  5. Hotel SIgiriya

Restaurants in Sigiriya

Restaurants in Sigiriya

Some of the most famous restaurants in Sri Lanka are located in Sigiriya, so don’t forget to dine at these eateries for a delicious gastronomic affair.

  1. Rithu Restaurant
  2. Royal Sigiriya Restaurant
  3. Wijesiri Family Restaurant
  4. Golden Palace Restaurant
  5. Rana Rasa Seafood Restaurant
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Additional Information about Sigiriya

Additional Information

You should always be prepared whenever you travel to a new place; therefore, we’re updating you with all that you need to know about Sigiriya Sri Lanka.

Best time to visit Sigiriya:

The best time to visit Sigiriya is from January to April, when the weather’s cool and pleasant, allowing you to indulge in some trekking and exploration of the tourist places. Since Sri Lanka witnesses a tropical climate with 80% humidity all year round, it’s better to visit this destination when the climate’s towards the colder side.

Travel tips:

  1. Reach the fortress early in the morning, like 6:45 A.M to avoid waiting in queue.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll have to climb around 1270 steps to reach the summit.
  3. Keep a water bottle handy and stay hydrated.
  4. Wear breathable clothes to beat the heat.
  5. Apply sunscreen before going.

After exploring the wonders of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, you can't help but be in awe of its beauty. From the majestic Lion Rock to the ancient frescoes and ruins, Sigiriya offers a truly unforgettable experience. The panoramic views from the top are simply breathtaking. It's a place where history and nature come together in perfect harmony. If you're planning a trip to Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is a must-visit destination, so book our Sri Lanka tour packages right away.

FAQs for Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

Q1. What is so special about Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which features the ruins of a palace at the towering height of 200 m. Built from the magma of an extinct volcano, this rock includes an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and much more.

Q2. Is Sigiriya related to Ramayana?

It’s believed that Sigiriya is where Ravana’s palace was located and was crafted by Kubera from solid gold.

Q3. Who built the Sigiriya?

Sigiriya was built by King Kasyapa, who fled from Anuradhapura in fear of his kingdom’s subjects retaliating against him and his half-brother, Mogallana returning for the throne. He made Sigiriya his capital.

Q4. How high is Sigiriya Rock?

The rock is approximately 200 m high, and you can reach the top by climbing around 1,270 steps.

Q5. What is mirror wall Sigiriya?

The mirror wall is a fifth century brick wall, which was built during Kasyapa’s rule and was polished to a point that one could see their reflection in it. Therefore, it was named the mirror wall.

Q6. How old is Sigiriya painting?

The ancient city of Sigiriya dates back to prehistoric times, but the oldest wall painting here is dated to the fifth century AD. Due to these significant artefacts, this city is a major archaeological site.

Q7. How did Sigiriya get its name?

Sigiriya’s name comes from the word Sihagri, which translates to Lion Rock. This name perfectly describes this attraction as you’ll witness lion paws at the entrance and there was once a lion’s face above the gate as well.

Q8. Why tourists visit Sigiriya?

Tourists visit Sigiriya due to its historical and religious significance. The splendid artistry tourists get to witness here feeds into their curiosity regarding this ancient city.