Sri Lanka

How long to hike to Sigiriya Rock (and what to see first)

The best places to visit in Sri Lanka are fascinating and will captivate any traveler. In this South Asian country, tourists can choose from a dizzying array of attractions. For those who practice Buddhism, there are several holy sites, as well as wonderful historical tourist attractions. However, no one can deny the breathtaking natural beauty of Sri Lanka. Lush foliage and bizarre creatures are always nearby, whether visitors are heading to a major surf spot, visiting a historic site or making a pilgrimage. In the capital, Colombo, holidaymakers can visit tourist attractions such as the majestic new Lotus Pagoda or Minneriya National Park, where elephants thrive in the wild. Outdoor activities include going on a safari in Yala National Park to spot leopards, taking an evening pilgrimage to watch the sunrise at Adam’s Peak, or hiking the gigantic Sigiriya rock in the middle of the forest. Here is a time guide for tourists to hike Sigiriya Rock and the main attractions.

Related: 10 Most Epic Places in Sri Lanka

What is Sigiriya Rock?

The Sigiriya Stone Fort is quite spectacular. Rock walls rise and then give way to flat plateaus where the island’s king originally lived in an old castle. The ruins of the palace sit atop a 660-foot (220-meter) rock formation and are believed to have been built in the 5th century AD. The steps are steep, and there are countless huge murals painted on the mountainside. There is a huge doorway halfway up the mountainside, and the doorway is carved with the shape of a lion. Sigiriya Rock is also known as Lion Rock in classical Sanskrit. Towers of this height required real engineering brilliance to build many centuries ago. Many important caves and gardens, including some of the first ever landscape gardens, can be found around the rock fortress. The site is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, near Dambulla.

How long does it take to hike Sigiriya Rock and what do visitors see?

Climbing Sigiriya Rock is not as difficult as it looks. The summit is reached after approximately 1,200 stairs. That’s roughly equivalent to climbing 60 flights of stairs. The summit takes between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours, depending on the fitness of the visitors, the number of people and the curiosity of the hikers. The return journey is faster and less difficult. There are eight levels to climb, and each level becomes more challenging. When hikers reach the summit, they’ll witness the remains of the Sky Palace and incredible 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

Phase 1: Exploring Boulder Gardens

The walking tour begins at Fountain Gardens and continues up to Boulder Gardens. There are only a few simple steps to boost. When hikers look around, they see countless huge boulders with caves underneath. These used to be brightly decorated. Some of the original paintings are still faintly visible. Large open-air gazebos may be found on some of the terraces in the area.

  • period: 5 to 10 minutes
  • difficulty: simple

Stage Two: Exploring the Terraced Gardens

After visiting Boulder Gardens, you can reach the terraced gardens by taking several picturesque staircases, some of which are through sloping boulders. There are many smaller caves in the area. Previously, these were richly decorated and furnished with benches so that guests could relax while enjoying the view. A luxurious pavilion sits on almost every boulder.

  • period: 15 to 20 minutes
  • difficulty: ease

Phase Three: Examining the Mirror Wall

The strenuous climb begins with the first section through terraced gardens. Through several terraces, two massive brick staircases ascend to a zigzag staircase. The magnificent mirrored wall is reached by an impressive staircase. There is a platform where hikers can catch their breath and enjoy the view at the top of these stairs.

  • period: 15 to 25 minutes
  • difficulty: very difficult

Related: 10 Adventure Activities to Try While Exploring Sri Lanka

Phase Four: Thinking about the Sigiriya Murals

From the Mirror Wall walkway, a short metal spiral staircase ascends to the Sigiriya mural 20 meters (65.6 ft) above. Magnificent murals dating back more than 1,600 years depict women in the harem of King Kassapa. They are worth the hiker’s time and effort to visit for their fine jewelry and clothing.

  • period: 3 to 5 minutes
  • difficulty: hard

Stage Five: Climbing the Ladder of Lions

Lion Staircase is a steep hike from the Mirror Wall walkway. The marble staircase is wide, but very solid. On the climb, hikers can climb over the parapet and enjoy stunning views of the gardens below, which were once teeming with exotic wildlife and the trees and flora thriving.

  • period: 15 to 25 minutes
  • difficulty: very difficult

Stage Six: Ascend to Heaven

The toughest stage of the climb, in which hikers ascend slender steel gantries to the summit on the exposed side of the cliff, can leave their knees weak and dizzy. Climbers looking down can see grooves etched into the rock face by ancient architects that served as the original footings for the stairs.

  • period: 15 to 25 minutes
  • difficulty: very difficult

Stage Seven: You Did It! !

Right now, hikers are on Sigiriya Rock. They can look around and contemplate the stunning views of the area and rocks. They were all amazed by the size of the Tiangong ruins. They can think of the millions of bricks and fixtures that ancient laborers had to move this massive rock to build the edifice. Undoubtedly, it is not simple.

  • period: 30 to 60 minutes
  • difficulty: ease

Stage Eight: Time to Come Down

After spending time enjoying the summit and watching the sunset or sunrise, it’s time for hikers to continue their travels.

  • period: 15 to 25 minutes
  • difficulty: hard

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