When you travel to Sigiriya, you will love to visit popular tourist spots and enjoy the local culture. Amongst other Things to do in Sigiriya, you can surely explore some of the best things to do in Sigiriya to make your trip a fulfilling one. On a trip to Sigiriya things to do can include exploring Sigiriya attractions and visiting the places of interest.
This monument was built almost 1600 years ago and is the largest single construction in ancient Sri Lanka. The history of the fortress goes back to the King Kasyapa who, tormented by his past deeds, escaped to the forests of Sri Lanka. In an area that featured a menacingly high black rock, he built a new capital for himself. He made the menace of a rock to look like a massive white cloud. Around the circumference of the cloud like structure, he got painted celestial nymphs that are now known as the Sigiriya Frescoes. He also built a gateway resembling a lion which gave this its name, Lion Mountain. The city thrived for the next 14 years till it was forgotten with time. It is a 60 to 90 minute climb and open to guests from 7 am to 5:30 pm.
A pair of strange metal spiral staircases, resembling the architecture of the Victorian era led up to a recess, sheltered in the rocks and became the home to a gorgeous sight, supposedly called Sigriya Damsels. It was specially built in the 5th century as per the orders of King Kasyapa. It is one of the largest murals and features paintings of 21 bare chested, beautiful women painted on to the face of a sheer rock. These paintings are unlike the others you would find in Sri Lanka.
Another unique and exquisite sight in Sigriya is the Mirror Wall that is highly polished and plastered with a mix of egg white, burnished lime, wild honey and beeswax. It is 1500 years old and covered in cobweb and graffiti left by visitors over the years. It is almost like a visitors’ book which includes literary fragments and short poems reflecting the visitors’ impression of the rock, the Damsels and other architectural elements in the ancient citadel. In fact, the oldest graffiti dates back to the 7th century.
Located around 24 kms or 30 minutes from Sigriya, the Dambulla Temple is the best preserved and largest cave temple in the country. Since its inception around 2000 years ago, this has been a fully functional temple. The temple goes back to the times of King Valagama, two thousand year ago, who ruled in 103 BC and also from 89 to 77 BC. The king took shelter in these caves, amongst the monks who lived there, when he was defeated by South Indian invaders. After winning back his kingdom he built a vihara here as a token of thanks. It’s set into 5 massive caverns on the mountainside. Inside the caves there are around 153 statues of the Buddha, in various poses of repose, four statues including the ones of Ganesh and Vishnu and three statues of kings of the ancient times. The walls and ceilings have been repainted over time by the monks. It is a tiring climb to the top of the mountainside. Photography is allowed inside but do not use the flash or pose with any of the statues. As it is a fully functioning temple, one must wear respectful clothing covering their thighs and shoulders. Caps and hats aren’t allowed inside. The temple is open to visitors from 7:30 am to 7 pm.
If you are fond of exploring the old artefacts of the ancient citadel, then a visit to this museum is a must. The museum has on display engaging and detailed artefacts. It has a diorama of the ancient site which gives one an explanation and overview of Sigriya’s natural beauty and cultural significance. The fact that it was a palace is thoroughly explained also establishing the fact that Sigriya used to be a Buddhist Monastery. The museum also explains to one how Sigriya was connected to China, the Gulf, the Roman Empire and India via trade routes. Photography inside the museum is not allowed.
The Palace Garden has pools cut in the rocks and a lot of terraces. It had rock cut pools and used to be a domestic garden. It is situated on top of the summit.
This gorgeous garden reminds one of Versailles, as the well-preserved gardens have carefully manicured lawns that are dotted with ponds that are arranged symmetrically, small fountains and water channels. During periods of low rainfall, all of this tends to dry up.
If you want to explore the flora and fauna of Sigriya, then you must visit the Wildlife Sanctuary in the citadel. This sanctuary is located around the Sigriya rocks. It is very close to the Minneriya National Park. The vegetation in the sanctuary mainly comprises shrub forests, dry evergreen forests and dry deciduous forests. You will find lot of elephants herding in this wildlife sanctuary. Other creatures that you will find in the sanctuary are falcons and eagles, among the rest.
Situated around two kilometres north of Sigriya, Pidurangala Rock is a site closely related to the history of Sigriya. The area was occupied for over 2000 years by monks who lived in caves surrounding the area. The climb to the top of the rock is about a rough 40 to 60 minutes. It is open to visitors from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Unlike the symmetrical Water Gardens, the Bolder Gardens comprises a small scenic forest with meandering pathways winding between massive boulders and through old-world, picturesque rock arches. Many of the boulders are dotted with long lines of notches. These once supported the long vanished miniature wooden pavilions. One of these pavilions stood on every boulder. The gardens were home to the monks of Sigriya. Mementoes of this ancient community can still be found amongst the rocks and caves.
If you want to know more about Sri Lankan culture and want to soak in the celebratory mood, you must visit Sri Lanka in the month of May during the Wesak Festival. As Sigriya is one of the 3 cities of the Cultural Triangle, it is a great place to be during the festival. As the country of Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country, the festival of Wesak is celebrated in almost every single nook and corner of Sri Lanka. Despite their religion, every house in the country lights up during the festival. Every house displays Wesak lanterns in various shapes, sizes and colours. Huge pandals that depict the life of Buddha are lit up with strings of multicoloured bulbs. Following the Lord Buddha and his path and quality of giving, free food and drink or ‘dansal’ is offered to people on the streets. This will definitely be an exciting experience if you want to sample the culture of Sri Lanka.
If you’re seeking adventure, you can go on an elephant trek around the Lion Rock in Sigriya. You can observe the colossal structure from ground level at the foot of the fortress. With the help of a mahout you can also bathe and feed the elephants as they trail through waters.
Witness the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the air in a hot air balloon. The relaxing aerial tour of the site is wondrous. You’ll simply float over the rock monument, the national parks, paddy field and admire the natural beauty of the citadel.
If you are in search of good food in Sri Lanka, here are some of the restaurants you can visit. For authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, try the Green Cabin Restaurant on Galle Road. If you want to sample Lamprais and other such dishes of Dutch origin, Dutch Burgher Union is the place for you. For Sri Lankan food with a twist, head down to Kaema Sutra.
If you want to sample some authentic Sri Lankan food, you must try the following:
Rice and Curry: Curry served with rice is a very common combination in Sri Lanka. The curry is made of vegetables or fish and can be really spicy. However, some cooks make a sweetish curry using flour, coconut milk and flour. The curries vary in flavour and colour consisting of vegetables or meat or fish. This is a wholesome dish and definitely worth a try.
Roti: This dish is very easy to prepare and served in almost every restaurant and food stall. It resembles a pancake but is more of a flat bread. It is different from what ‘roti’ is in India as it is also served with melted chocolate as dessert. It can be coupled with vegetables and fish for lunch or dinner or even with fruits as a snack. If you have a sweet tooth, you can try the banana and chocolate roti.
Hoppers: They are shaped much like tulips and taste like sour-dough pancakes. It is mainly breakfast food served with a combination of spices and red onion or eggs. Hoppers are made of fermented flour batter with a dash of coconut milk and palm toddy. Yeast is added to the dish to make it a little less sour.
Desserts: There is a huge variety of desserts available in Sri Lanka which is good news for people with a sweet tooth. Try the oil cake made of treacle and rice flour and is fried a beautiful golden brown. You can also try the pudding-like desserts made from coconut milk. Many cakes have a combination of lots of sugar and chilli peppers.
If you want to listen to some great live music, drop by Rhythm & Blues at Daisy Villa Avenue in Colombo. It is a pub with a bar and has great bands performing live. The bands belt out numbers from different genres like rock, blues and even love ballads. This is a wonderful place to unwind after a long day with your favourite drink.
If you want to check out some bars and pubs try the Mawby’s Clillout Pub which has a country and western theme. If you want to visit a well stocked bar, then the Zanzi Bar is the best place for you.
This is Colombo’s most important and famous bazaar districts. Almost all kinds of goods can be purchased in this market. You can shop for everything here starting from handbags to clothes to watches to household goods to books to electronics to shoes and a whole lot more. Tourists can spend the entire day shopping in this market but will never get lost, as all the side streets lead to the main road.
This popular market is situated at Water’s Edge Park and is a fabulous place to sample some fantastic and delicious western and local food.
This market place is indoors and you can find a huge array of all kinds of fruits and vegetables and imported goods here. You can visit it to sample and buy some of the local produce. This market is situated near the Liberty Plaza.