Sigiriya is Sri Lanka’s big-ticket tourist attraction, its equivalent of both Australia’s Uluru (being a rocky outcrop of national identity) and Peru’s Macchu Picchu (being a ruined hilltop capital). It towers over the forested plains (pic) with a breathtaking, almost arrogant, size – just like the admission fee.
There’s a very steep walkway glued to the side of the rock that takes zillions of tourists a day up to the top (pic). Those big paw sculptures used to belong to a mighty lion gateway statue, in Sigiriya’s heyday from 500 to 1400.
One sign on the way up advised us to keep still and quiet in the case of a wasp attack. This wasn’t hypothetical: a few minutes after I finished my visit, the whole rock was closed for a few hours because of one. The admission fee and the tuk-tuk drivers weren’t the only way some tourists got stung…
Anyway, this is the view from the top (pic). You can see why the ancient Sri Lankan kingdoms wanted to build their HQ here, because you can spot troublemakers coming a mile off. Also, there’s no chance of an overcharging tuk-tuk driver making his way up here.
In the afternoon I trundled round the Sigiriya area on my bike, down little dirt roads to villages (where more games of cricket were bring played) and up tiny lanes through forests. One of them took me to Pidurangala, another rocky outcrop which you can walk to the top of, to get fantastic views of Sigiriya’s rock (pic). There were hardly any tourists here, nor even wasps, and for 15 minutes I had this view to myself.
Miles today: 11
Total miles: 310
Miles since Dondra Head: 272