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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya, or "the Lion's Rock", is a massive rock formation that towers more than 650 feet (198 meters) high. Carved into a city fortress on the orders of King Kassapa I in the fifth century, Sigiriya soon grew into an exceptionally elaborate, beautiful place, complete with sprawling, terraced gardens with fountains, myriad frescoes, carved stone walkways and avenues, and finally, a towering palace perched atop the giant rock formation itself.
The city served as the royal residence for only eleven years; following a pivotal battle, Kassapa was defeated by his brother, and took his own life. Afterwards, Sigiriya was given to monks, and fell into a long, slow decline.
Today, highlights of Sigiriya include the Mirror Wall, so-named because it was once constructed from highly polished porcelain; the stunning frescoes of Sigiriya, reminiscent of India's Ajanta Caves; and the palace itself, surrounded by a complex network of moats, reservoirs, cisterns, gardens and additional structures.
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Our General Manager Victoria Hilley loves the beautiful colonial town of Galle, especially afternoon tea at our favourite local property. Amangalla.
Visit Sigiriya, the “Lion’s Rock.” Climb the massive rock formation, more than 650 feet (198 meters) high, which was carved into a small city fortress by a king in the 5th century. Once home to palace residences, swimming pools and fountains, Sigiriya employed sophisticated hydraulic technology to elevate water to the summit. It has the rare distinction of being both a natural and man-made wonder of the world, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sigiriya is abundant with shrubbery and jungle, providing an ideal natural habitat for various species of birds. Go twitching with a local bird spotter and pair of high-tech binoculars in the Sigiriya bird sanctuary, and see if you spot the Indian Cuckoo, a Ceylon Green-Pigeon, a Brown Fish-Owl or a Thick-Billed Flower Pecker, amongst many others.
Bullock-cart Ride and Boat Trip
Take a ride on a traditional Sri Lankan bullock-cart around the Lion Rock Fortress and the surrounding jungle, wildlife and local villages. After your bullock-cart ride hop on board a simple local style boat and cruise the nearby lake for an alternative view of the great Sigiriya rock, once built on as an ancient king’s hideaway. Meander along the waters enjoying the natural paradise, where beautiful butterflies and birds flit between wild flowers and grassy verges.
Go on an easy elephant trek around the Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya. The gentle giants will take you through the green undergrowth and sparkling lake at the foot of the fortress to observe to astounding formation from ground level or more precisely elephant-back level. The elephant will trail through the waters and you will have the chance to feed and bathe the animals alongside your personal expert mahout.
Visit Pidurangala Temple, a small Buddhist temple built by the founder king of Sigiriya, located just a mile away from Lion Rock. In ancient times the king came across a community of monks and hermits occupying the area, the king built this temple complex to house them.
Combined Trip Sigiriya and Dambulla
Sigiriya and Dambulla are two areas that are often combined into a one-day trip. It’s possible to combine various experiences from Sigiriya and Dambulla in the same day, just mix and match whatever suits your interests.
Take an early morning flight over the mountains, lakes and lotus ponds of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle in a hot air balloon. Soaring up to 2,500 feet above the landscape, your flight will offer spectacular bird’s-eye views of the ancient forests and tranquil villages of the countryside, culminating with an unparalleled aerial view of Sigiriya Rock Fortress. From October to May only.
On this two-week tour of beautiful Sri Lanka, discover the country’s hidden treasures, from historic colonial towns to its lush jungles, rainforests and tea terraces. Savor the views and allow yourself to be enchanted by ancient culture.
Experience Sri Lanka’s natural beauty on this luxurious 16-day adventure. Observe wild elephant herds in their natural habitat, trek in the lush Sinharaja Rainforest, explore multiple UNESCO sites, hike through an ancient monastery and still have plenty of time to unwind by the turquoise sea in stunning Galle.
Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.
Elephant Corridor Hotel
The Elephant Corridor Hotel is surrounded by the magnificent beauty of the Kandalama Hills and is close to Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This luxury boutique property has 21 suites, including some with private plunge pools. There is also the Presidential Villa, set in several acres of private grounds, which has four bedrooms and two private pools. The Ambrosia restaurant serves a well-chosen selection of international cuisine, and the Fables & Tales and Ebony & Ivory bars offer more casual dining. Meals can also be served outdoors under the trees, on a private terrace, or in your suite.
Available activities include archery, mountain biking, horseback and elephant riding, and hikes through the surrounding plains and forests. The Om Wellness Spa offers a variety of different treatments all based on Ayurvedic principles. The hotel also has a fitness center and a business center. The Elephant Corridor is a four-hour drive from the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (CMB).