juliamhammond

Sigiriya

Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, has been on my travel radar for over three decades.  

Sigiriya from below

Sigiriya from below


In those days, there were no travel magazines littering my desk, nor could I surf the web to take me to exotic destinations over a cuppa.  (How did I manage?)  What I did have, however, was a passion for Duran Duran and in 1982, the band released the video for Save A Prayer.  Watch it here:

It was shot on location in various parts of Sri Lanka, among them Sigiriya, which that same year was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  As the camera panned, I remember watching and wondering how they got up there as the rock face looked impossibly steep.

The start of a long climb

The start of a long climb


Sweeping the sand off helped a little with grip on the smooth stone but wouldn't want to do this climb in the rain

Sweeping the sand off helped a little with grip on the smooth stone but wouldn’t want to do this climb in the rain

It is.  And unfortunately for me, so too were the steps leading to the top.  Slippery stone gives way to spiral metal staircases, the gateway to some impressive frescoes of bare-chested maidens.  To my horror, I then had to descend a spiral staircase before climbing again.  That’s fifty steps up and the same back just to reach the same height!

The scariest part - hard to know where to look

The scariest part – hard to know where to look

Spurred on by teenage dreams, and determined not to be put off by internet-induced nightmares, I made the climb this morning.  With several terraces on which to recover my breath, my knees didn’t ache anywhere near as much as I feared.  

That's just rubbing my face in it, Mr Dog

That’s just rubbing my face in it, Mr Dog

But despite an early start, I was sweating profusely as the temperatures flung themselves ever higher and the humidity permeated like a warlike invader.  By the time I got to the top I was in no state for a selfie, though I promise you the photos you’ll see here are all mine.

One of the paws at marking the start of the final metal staircase

One of the paws at marking the start of the final metal staircase


Duran Duran stood right here

Duran Duran stood right here (well, two of them anyway!)

This lofty archaeological site is thought to be the ruins of the kingdom of Kassapa dating from the 5th Century.  Those topless women could well have been his concubines.  At the summit, his palace is all but gone, a few tumbledown walls and a pond full of water are the only surviving remnants of a once grand structure.

The water tank at the top

The water tank at the top

But it’s the view that takes your breath away, not the strenuous climb.  See for yourself.

View from the top

View from the top

I overheard someone near the bottom saying the descent was harder, and this sign at the top didn’t help my confidence. Actually it was fine, and a whole lot less hard work than the ascent.

Sign at the top

Sign at the top


Fortunately no hornet issues either

Fortunately no hornet issues either


Looking at the crowds building, it was definitely a good idea to climb early. The site opened at 7am, not 8.30am as stated in my Lonely Planet.
The queue for the top as I made my way back down

The queue for the top as I made my way back down


Monkeys make their home at the foot, near Cobra Rock

Monkeys make their home at the foot, near Cobra Rock

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One response

  1. Pingback: Review of the year 2016 | Julia's Travels

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