News report | | 03-08-2021 | ±4 minutes reading time

One of the most visited places in Sri Lanka is Sigiriya. In this village, you will find the eponymous rock, which is also called the Lionʼs Rock. Apply now for your Sri Lanka visa (ETA) to admire this impressive, two hundred metres high rock in person.

History of the fortifications on the Lionʼs Rock

The fortress on the rock of Sigiriya is estimated to be about 1600 years old. In the fifth century AD, the son of the king - Kassapa - killed his father and took over power by force. To protect himself from an attack by his brother Moggallana - the actual heir to the throne - Kassapa moved his residence from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya. He built a fortress on top of the Sigiriya Rock. The rock fortress was attacked by his brother Moggallana, who destroyed the fortress and moved the capital back to Anuradhapura.

Sigiriya was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, and the rock was first seen by Europeans in 1831. Today, the monolith is one of the most popular sites in Sri Lanka and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Would you like to visit the Lionʼs Rock and the beautiful surroundings of Sigiriya? Remember to apply for a Sri Lanka visa before departure.

Climbing the Lionʼs Rock

Those who are not afraid of heights can not only view the rock from a distance, but also climb it. The paths and stairs to the top are easily passable, but walking shoes are recommended. The climb of 1,200 steps takes you past beautiful wall paintings and the famous mirror wall. This wall was named so because it was so polished that the king could see himself in the reflection.

Halfway through the tour, you come to a plateau where a huge gate in the shape of a lion once stood. The lionʼs head collapsed, and today only the huge paws that flanked the entrance can be seen. At the top you can see the ruins of the citadel and the remains of the royal palace. You also have a magnificent view of the villages, lakes and green surroundings. Once at the bottom, the surrounding complex with landscaped gardens provides an opportunity to recover from the climb.

Lionʼs rockView of the Lionʼs Rock

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Lionʼs Rock is early in the morning or later in the day (the last entry is at 16:00, but you may stay on the site until 19:00). On the one hand, because the temperatures are not too high yet; at the hottest part of the day in Sri Lanka, the temperature often exceeds thirty degrees, which makes the climb more difficult. Therefore, remember to bring enough water, a hat and sunscreen for the road. On the other hand, it is wise to go early in the day to avoid the crowds. The rock can be climbed from seven in the morning. There are often more tourists on weekends than on weekdays.

The little brother of the Lionʼs Rock: Pidurangala Rock

Those who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Sigiriya can also choose to climb another rock close to Sigiriya: Pidurangala Rock. From Pidurangala Rock, you have a breathtaking view of the Lionʼs Rock, which many travellers find even more impressive than climbing the Lionʼs Rock itself. Pidurangala Rock is much less frequented by tourists, which allows you to enjoy the view undisturbed. A visit to this rock is also a lot cheaper than the Lionʼs Rock. The entrance fee to the Lionʼs Rock is about £ 25, while Pidurangala Rock can be climbed for about £ 2.

Of course, it is also possible to climb both rocks, so you can admire both the remains of the palace and the mirror wall, as well as the view of the Lionʼs Rock from Pidurangala Rock. An ETA Sri Lanka allows you to stay in the country for 30 days. The validity of the visa can even be extended to 90 days after arrival in Colombo. This gives you more than enough time to climb the Lionʼs Rock and Pidurangala Rock.

How to get there?

Sigiriya is located in the central province, in the Matale District. The nearest larger town is Dambulla, about half an hourʼs drive away. From Dambulla you can travel to Sigiriya by bus, which runs twice an hour, in about three quarters of an hour. From Kandy, it is about three hours by car, from Colombo about four and a half hours. The nearest railway station is in Habarana, about 15 kilometres from Sigiriya, but it is generally quicker to travel by bus than by train. From Colombo to Habarana, it takes about five hours by train, but the train ride is a unique experience in itself.

Applying for a Sri Lanka visa (ETA)

The visa for Sri Lanka can easily be applied for online. Tourists generally do not need to visit the embassy, as they are eligible for the electronic visa (ETA Sri Lanka). For the ETA, an online application form must be filled out. The visa is granted within three days after completion of the form and payment of the fee, and sent by e-mail. Travellers then only need to print out the visa and take it with them on their trip to Sri Lanka.