January 6, 2013

The Small Miracle : Sri Lanka - Sigiriya Lion Rock

What's a trip to a foreign land if you don't sample its local cuisine? But honestly, sometimes I didn't. Cos sometimes I can be a choosy eater. I usually eat food based on its look. hahahaha... Perfect example is the catfish or ikan keli. I never liked the look of that fish, hence it's in the list of fish that I don't eat.

Anyway, we tried the local breakfast at our hotel. It's interesting to see what people in other countries have for breakfast, compared to our oh-so-fattening nasi lemak and roti canai.  

Looks like putu mayam, isn't it? The taste is almost the same too. I think it is Sri Lanka's version of putu mayam. But here, it's called string hoppers, and served with sambal and soup.

Done feasting our stomach, we're ready to go out.

Around 25km north of Dambulla lies the spectacular citadel of Sigiriya. Sounds so near but it took us more than an hour to reach there thanks to the traffic and the small roads. -_-

We arrived there at about 10am and saw vans and tourist buses lined up the road. Long queues were already forming at the main entrance gate. We quickly went to the ticket counter. Mind you that the ticket counter is a bit far, around 100 metres on the opposite side of the gate.

We met a group of Chinese guys from Malaysia there. At first we just ignored them and chatted as usual while waiting for our turns at the counter. Then suddenly one of them asked us, "Malaysians?". Must be due to our loud talking in Malay. haha...

We chatted briefly and went separate ways after buying our tickets. They went straight to the entrance gate while we headed to the nearby Sigiriya Museum to avoid the crowd.

It's not that big but worth to be visited as it exhibits the remains and artefacts discovered at the site.

By the time we were at the entrance gate, there was only a few visitors lining up. As soon as we passed the gate, a few local men came to us offering guide services. Be firm if you don't want the service, otherwise they will follow you around, explaining this and that. One of them even tried to hold my hand crossing bridge and climbing the stairs but I managed to avoid it. Urghhh... so annoying.

Sigiriya rose into the history of Sri Lanka in the fifth century AD during the reign of King Dhatusena, who ruled the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. His son, Kashyapa, seized the throne from him and the rightful heir, his half-brother, Moggallana. The King was murdered while Moggallana fled to India.

Fearing an invasion by Moggallana to reclaim his inheritance, Kashyapa built his palace and fortress on top of the 200m high massive rock.

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, it is definitely an extraordinary attraction now.

 The entire site is surrounded by a pair of moats. Rammuni told us there used to be hundreds of crocodiles in the moat to protect the city.

I wonder if there's still one or two left in there.

Within the site, there's two sections to explore; the rock itself and the garden area around the base of the rock.

Crossing the inner moat, we entered the water gardens. It consists of several pools on either side of the path.

The water was murky so we didn't spent much time there. Besides, we were already excited looking at what lay ahead of us. 

Do you smelllll what the rock is cooking??? haha...

It smelt gooood!! Cos from this point onwards, we couldn't stop clicking the cameras. The rock was just amazing ok!

Anyway, there's so much more ahead so eventually we stopped camwhoring. Habis bateri camera kat sini je nanti. 

Beyond the water gardens, the main path leads to the boulder garden, which consist of several large natural boulders tumbled around the foot of the rock and winding pathways. There's also a few caves here, used as a place of religious retreats by the Buddhist monks before and after Kashyapa's reign.

Deraniyagala Cave

I-forgot-its-name Cave

 Cobra Hood Cave

From this boulder arch, we started the climb.

Steep climb. We climbed past a few old couples who rested to catch their breath. I admired their spirit to climb such a high rock, despite their age. I noticed most of them were Japanese though. Such energetic folks.

Saw a Buddha statue poking out of the jungle. 

Somehow I thought it resembled Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, no? Sans the hand posture. Well...maybe because it's white in color. 

Further climb brought us to the Mirror Wall and the spiral staircase.

the spiral staircase

I was actually scared climbing the staircase cos there's so many people on it at the same time. I was afraid of its safety, whether it could hold all the weights cos the metal looked so rusty.    

The spiral staircases lead to a sheltered cave that holds some of the beautiful frescoes in the country. Popularly known as the Sigiriya Damsels, the busty ladies were painted in the fifth century and are the only non-religious paintings to have survived from ancient Sri Lanka. 

Beyond the fresco gallery, we walked through a path that clings to the side of the rock. The path is protected by a 3m high wall, known as the Mirror Wall. The wall was originally coated in highly polished plaster, making a reflection of the paintings on the opposite rock wall. Today, the shine on the wall can still be seen. I could see myself, though only the shadow..

Walking through the pathway and a flight of steep steps later brought us to the Lion Platform. Roarrr!!! This large terrace marks the half-way point on the ascent to the summit of the rock.

One of Sigiriya's most dramatic features is the Lion Staircase. There was a sculpted lion's head above the legs and paws flanking the entrance, but the head broke down years ago. Surveying the ruins, I could imagine the palace and fortress being so impressive and grand when it was intact.

the final stairs

the stairs back then?

After a lot of huffing and puffing, the summit welcomed us. Though it wasn't as high as Mount Kinabalu, the view was astounding.

Both the palace and the fortress were reduced to mere rubble now. We explored the summit, and began imagining what the place looked like during its glory days. The view was unobstructed for miles around. It would be the perfect fortress for Kashyapa but from what I read, he went down to the base of the rock to fight his half brother. Whyyyy?!?

 the palace's ruins

more ruins

the King's swimming pool?

meditating over the the wonderful view.. nice!

meditating and relaxing

we're at the top of the world yo! haha..


jejaka payung!

 Sigiriya Rock is open daily.
The site opens from 7 am to 6 pm, but last entrance is at 5 pm.
 Entrance fee is USD 30.

It was definitely a trip I'm unlikely to forget. I was extremely impressed with Sigiriya that I became excited on what Sri Lanka has in store for us next.


siti masyitah said...

love ur chic style in travelling, esp ur bag :)

Anonymous said...

wow! Sri Lanka! One of the places that i really wanted to go too! Btw, that steel spiral staircase that bring you up, Phew! Btw, magnificent view from top! Worth climbing up!

My name starts with M said...

i love Sigiriya :D

rara said...

siti masyitah: hehe thanks! the bag is from H&M :D

zaraab: Go!! The country's beautiful! Yup... Sigiriya tu eventhough so penat climbing it, it's definitely worth it!

Mas: me too!