After the tea plantations we ventured further north past Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city, to Sigiriya, apparently the country’s most visited tourist site.
Sigiriya is an ancient palace and fortress complex that in some cases is referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World and is archaeologically significant. In the midst of the palace fortifications and carefully structured gardens rises the Lion Rock, upon which the ancient palace once rested and was later converted into a Buddhist monastery. The rock derives its name from its original shape, a lion, of which only the feet have survived the test of time.
Having travelled north to see the site we got up early to be there when it first opened. Upon arrival you could already see countless tourist buses and long queues by the ticket office. Apart from the crowds, we also did not expect a hefty 30 USD entrance fee per person, having travelled on a budget throughout Asia for the previous couple of months, payable by cash only. As we did not carry sufficient cash on us we were advised to go find an ATM before returning to the ticketing queue.
Although the entrance fee made us reconsider our plans, it was more so the crowds of people that determined our change of heart as we looked for other options and activities in the area. A quick search online revealed another less visited rock, only a 15 minute TukTuk ride away, that could be climbed and promised just as splendid a view.
Fifteen minutes later we reached Pidurangala Rock, where the entrance fee was ten times less, and started our ascent. A tough 45 minute hike up rewards you with a stunning view of the plains below and Lion Rock in its prime profile. We were definitely happier having taken a less busy route and having avoided the masses of people.