Third time a charm. This is my third time up Sigiriya and certainly the best. We started early, getting up at 6am on vacation doesn't seem right, but well worth it to be able to climb before it got too hot and crowded. Sigiriya is a rock fortress built in 5th century AD. The king had taken power by imprisoning his father and exiling his older brother to India. So the king rightfully feared an overthrow that did come. The rock was chosen as a defensive location, with a palace at the top and palaces and gardens below. On an overhang on the side of the rock is a series of frescos, painted 1,600 years ago. Many of the paintings exposed to sun and rain are gone, but many remain in a shady overhang. These maidens of Sri Lanka are in great condition considering they have been exposed to the elements so long. The route up the rock is up steep stairs and iron ladders that enhanced the little steps cut in the rock. Half way up is a flat area known as the Lion Platform, in years past there was a huge lion sculpture, the path up to the palace passed through the mouth of the Lion. All that remains are the lions feet. The view from the top is amazing. The outline of the buildings show the scale and the water tanks and swimming pools still hold water. On the way down we looked into the numerous caves and Audience Hall carved on to the top of a boulder 50 feet across. One cave has a high overhang like a cobra and a real life snake charmer with two cobras and a python. We had him charm the snake (only Rs 500, about $3), all was going well until the snake started to take off toward me, thankfully Mr Charmer grabbed it by the tail (do snakes have tails, or is the whole snake a tail?) When it was halfway out of the basket.
We had started out at 8am and got back down around 10am, it was a whole lot hotter and busier when we got down, well worth the early start, not to mention the benefit of getting back to the hotel in time for a swim before lunch.
The Cinnamon Lodge is fantastic, stay tuned.....
Look at the photo page for more pics.