At the front of the first of two buses to Sigiriya was a huge framed picture of Lord Shiva which lit up every time the driver hit the brakes. Pretty neat. The public transport in Sri Lanka is great in that there is loads of it and it is very cheap. Despite the fact that it seems to be shrouded in mystery regarding times and routes, you can usually just ask someone at the bus stop and they’ll direct you to your carriage.
We stayed in a lovely air b’n’b called Riverside Villa, which was tucked away from the main town, surrounded by trees and miscellaneous vegetation. At the end of the garden there was a river where the family (as well as various random locals) came to bathe. Chaminda’s lovely wife also made us delicious breakfast and dinners.
Sigiriya Rock, is a 200ish meter high column of rock, at the top of which lies the remains and ruins of an ancient city created by King Kasyapa around 1600 years ago. The story goes, that the King abandoned his home of Anuradhapura after the locals shunned him for killing his dad, in order to (unlawfully) become King. Knowing that his brother Mugalan, the rightful owner to the crown would come after him, he legged it into the forest and stumbled upon this huge rock which he decided he would transform into a new capital. He built a fortress and pleasure palace complete with gardens, pavilions and moats. He also had the rock painted white and decorated with paintings of frescoes, so that it would resemble a huge cloud. (You can’t see most of it now, but some paintings still remain in little caves) The King spent a lot of his life doing good deeds and observing his religious duties in order to repent for killing his dad. Unfortunately he committed suicide after he was betrayed by his armies, who abandoned him when Mugalan came knocking.
We left at 7am for our ascent which was fun but also exhausting and at times a bit terrifying. The climb is certainly not suitable for people with a fear of heights as there is one point where you climb a metal staircase which hangs precariously off of the side of the rock. With each step, it creaked and with each step I made a little squeak. Absolutely crazy to imagine how workers brought building materials up and down in the blistering heat.
The view from the top was wonderful and the ruins were very pretty. We didn’t have a guide, which is why I don’t have an awful lot to say other than how pretty it was.
As we climbed back down, feet thudding, we laughed at the tourists attempting to climb in the mid morning sun. Fools.
We also visited Dambulla cave temple. As soon as we arrived, a creepy monkey started chasing me. The temple is a world heritage site and once again involved a lot of stairs (160m worth). Weaving in between hundreds of school children dressed in white, we explored the caves, inside which, there were no less than 153 statues of Buddha in all different positions and sizes. The view from outside was also stunning.
We ate some of the best food we’d had in Sri Lanka at the Traditional Food Sales Centre in Dambulla. Incredibly cheap, fresh and traditional food was being prepared by several ladies all sat in a row. Seriously delicious. I would imagine the only way to find it would be to ask a local or use google maps as it’s not a touristy place. We ended up there by chance when our tuktuk driver took us there.
Sigiriya was the most north we got before heading back down south…