Visiting Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

For many, Sigiriya in the Matale District of Sri Lanka is more than just an ancient fortress and former palace; it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Still considered one of the best examples of town planning dating back to ancient times, this once famous royal palace is now a major tourist draw card and one of seven Sri Lankan attractions listed as a UNESCO World heritage Site.

Sigiriya is also called “Lions Rock” and the province is dominated by the gigantic boulder that reaches up to 200 meters high, atop of which sits the ruined palace. Far from bustling crowds and Sri Lanka’s thriving metropolis, Sigiriya is surrounded by an extensive network of gardens that feature boulders, water and terraces. These gardens are amongst some of the oldest in the world and have been maintained in a manner befitting their original design. The areas tropical climate and monsoon seasons are instrumental in the gardens growth and they were originally designed to be in synchronicity with the seasons.

Many tourists in Sri Lanka include Sigiriya on their itinerary as it truly offers the experience of a lifetime and is also reasonably priced.  There is no charge when visiting the ruins of the palace, although you do have to climb around 1200 stairs to reach the top of the rock. Along the way you will be treated to the site of ancient frescoes similar to those found in the Indian Ajanta caves and painted during the Anuradhapura period. These frescoes adorn the rocks face and have been described as the world’s largest outdoor gallery.

Buddhism has deep roots in Sri Lankan culture and in the 3rd Century BC monks used Sigiriya as a place of retreat and meditation. After the temple was built and the King subsequently lost his throne the site was given back to the Buddhist monks who later built their own church within the gardens.

The Matale District has a mostly pollution free atmosphere, plenty of water and lush green vegetation and is the perfect place for a weary traveller to escape the rat race. The region epitomises the Buddhist way of life and the serene gardens are welcoming, especially in the heat of summer sun.

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