Thursday, April 19, 2012

Climbing Sigiriya

We left Colombo before sunup to head to central Sri Lanka. Our destination for the day was Sigiriya, an ancient capital (5th century AD) built by King Kassapa I. During the king's reign of eleven years he built a fortress at the top of the towering rock. After his reign, the complex was used a Buddhist monastery.

Central Sri Lanka, or the cultural triangle, is abundant with heritage sites (mostly former kingdoms or capitals) such as Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Pollonnuruwa. Because we had such limited time, we chose to visit Sigiriya and Pollonnuruwa (but we had to cancel the latter for various reasons).

Four hours from Colombo, we checked in a hotel in Dambulla and drove half an hour to Sigiriya. We were surprised to learn that the entrance fee to the park alone has been increased to 30 USD since the start of April (it used to be 30 USD for ALL the heritage sites in the area!).

The ascent to the top of the towering rock fortress was through a dizzying series of twisted staircases made of stone. Eventually we reached the side of the rock face where there are frescoes, and we accessed that through a spiral metal staircase. The frescoes comprise of ladies adorned with jewels and headresses. Some of them are preserved well, retaining their vibrant coloration.

Then we descended from the 'gallery' and went through a narrow passage clinging on the side of the rock. We had to climb further up via a very steep staircase made of stone until we finally reached the lion's paws. By then we were exhausted like crazy because it was already close to noon and the humidity and heat were unbelievable. Still, we had to werq those lion's paws like no one's business.

No, we haven't reached the top yet. Through yet another series of winding metal staircase attached to the side of the rock, we climbed to the top where the remains of the fortress stand. We're talking about terraces made of bricks and some water tanks.

The view at the top is insane! The rock is surrounded by a carpet of green on all sides. On one side we could see a mountain range in the distance. The searing sun was right above us when we reached the top and there was hardly any shade to run for cover. Anyway, we still werqed it up there.

When we reached the base of the rock our travel guide informed us that the van needed some repairs. We were fine with it because we had already canceled Pollonnuruwa anyway. The van had to be towed to a mechanic and we took a trishaw back to the hotel.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin