Sigiriya Sri Lanka Travel Pictures
Fortress of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka Attraction
Sigiriya Sri Lanka is about 105 miles (169 km) inland from Colombo and 57 miles (92 km) from Kandy and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is the main attraction. It's quite a climb to get to the top, and in sections, you meet oncoming foot traffic heading back down, so you have to stay alert. After climbing it just the once, in the heat, I was delighted to see Sigiriya featured on one episode of the television show The Amazing Race 6.
Rock Fortress Outside Sigiriya at a distance
The fortress dominates the landscape. Up close, it's even more impressive.
The view from the top, some 600 feet (182 metres) is even better.
An RAF veteran told me how, during WWII, he and his fellow pilots relied on this pillar of stone to guide them to their nearby base.
Of course, this would have been only during daylight hours, as there were no night flights, he said.
Sigiriya Fortress Formidable Rock Pillar
The fortress, which dates back to the 5th century, is set amidst a park land.
Almost all the top surface is ruins -- the foundation, swimming pool and a few low crumbling walls are all that remain of the Royal Palace.
Sri Lanka's ubiquitous vendors clog the stairs around the exit pestering one and all.
Access to Fortress Sigiriya - Walking Path
This is the easiest part of the path -- the approach to the base of the stairs.
Halfway to the Top of Fortress Sigiriya
About half way up the fortress, there's a wide lookout where vendors (that, for once, you are glad to see) sell bottles of cold water.
From the stairs, you can see large wasp nests hanging down close to the stairs, though their inhabitants took no notice of us.
My climb started shortly after 9 a.m., when the site opens, and took several hours to climb up and back, with lots of time at the top to admire the view.
Though the day was overcast, it was still very hot and humid.
There's as steady stream of visitors, so the pace on the narrow walkway is steady, too.
Huffing and puffing my way to the top as early in the morning as it was, I met three elderly, barefoot women clad in saris, who had obviously made the climb much faster than I.
Top of Sigiriya Fortress Views of Sri Lankan Countryside
The 360-degree view shows why this site was an impregnable fortress.
Not only could rulers of old see daytime attackers from a great distance, or their nighttime campsites, they were also secure knowing attackers could not scale the sheer cliffs undetected.
Not long before my visit, I was told, a tourist from Germany took a step off the top, and fell to his death. Alcohol and great heights do not mix well.
Sigiriya Village Hotel Gardens
A short walk downhill from the Hotel Sigiriya is the Sigiriya Village Hotel. (The names are similar, so pay attention when booking.) This hotel was a pit stop on The Amazing Race television show.
The grounds were quite lovely, with a large swimming pool, and a good dining room.
Meals were served buffet style, with breakfast-time omelette stations, and after-dinner entertainment.
A loud racket on the roof early one morning turned out to be the resident monkeys, that could usually be seen swinging through the garden's trees.
The rooms were very spacious and comfortable, with television and air conditioning; and a candle and matches in case the lights went out.
The attendants placed nosegays of flowers each night when they turned down the covers.
A resident gecko (small lizard)kept the mosquitoes at bay, though coils were provided. Pack your flashlight, as power interruptions often occur.
Sigiriya Village Hotel Traditional Ayurvedic Spa
This is in the lovely ayurvedic spa on the grounds, with a doctor of ayurvedic medicine on staff. Sessions may be booked at the front desk, and charged to your room.
The spa itself is located in a separate building a minute's walk from the lobby. This was my first experience with ayurvedic treatments, which make liberal use of herbal and other natural oils.
TIP Wear a swim suit to the spa, as it's easier to wash oils out of a swimsuit than clothing.
As with many spas visited, the rates are so reasonable by western standards, I booked as many treatments as I could find time for.
And trying not to overtip the practioner was a losing battle. They are all so sweet and gentle.
Though tipping large is indicative of the great satisfaction with the therapist and the treatments, overtipping is demeaning to the recipient.
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