Sigiriya. Say it with me. Sig-i-ri-ya. It’s the most addicting word in the world, and it certainly rolled off my tongue enough times for Sandra to start mocking me, as we made our way from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya, via Dambulla. We were going to stop and see the cave temples in Dambulla, but soon after Anuradhapura, an executive decision was made: There’s only so any big Buddha’s a girl can see in a row. And…we pretty much had our fill.
Sigiriya, not being an official religious site, didn’t require us to cover up our legs or shouders; and good thing, because it was quite the hike up this huge rock (once the site of an ancient palace! but many speculate that it’s always been a monastery).
Sigiriya is a sweet little day trip; Sandra and I left the hotel around 9:30am and we were back around 1pm; you just get to the rock, fork over $30 USD (yes, thirty US DOLLARS, by far the most expensive thing we did on the trip) and for that you get to climb up the rock with 4034934309 old white tourists, and see a museum on your way out.
I realize that I’m making the experience sound horrible, and I don’t mean to–because the view, once up there, was spectacular. Sandra immediately deemed it the favorite thing she’d done on her trip; and since she’d only just arrived 2 days ago, I just…let that comment slide.
The hike up definitely isn’t for those faint of heart; 2 hours up creaky iron staircases and dubious rope ascents/descents; definitely makes you wonder when all of this was last-safety-checked (and also, how the hell did people get up here before all this tourist friendly access?)
On the way, you can take a quick detour to see some of the oldest paintings in Sri Lanka. These paintings…let me tell you; the obsession with thinness didn’t just start in the 21st century, because I figure it is anatomically impossible to have waists as small and breasts as big as the women depicted on the walls. Talk about unrealistic expectations! Geez. Men.
Once you get up to the top of Sigiriya, it’s just the tops of trees for miles around; and it reminded me a bit of what I imagine the ruins in South America are like. We spent some time clambering around the ruins, taking jumping pictures, and avoiding a weird crowd of adolescent Sri Lankan boys who insisted following us at every turn.
Conclusion: I’d say that if you had to choose between Sigiriya and Anuradhapura, Sigiriya would come out on top. Expensive price aside, the top of it is really a site to see; and you can spend as much time as you want, relaxing and enjoying the view. However, if you’re leery and intolerant of large tourist crowds, either go early, early in the morning or just before it closes (although…I wouldn’t recommend doing the descent in any state of darkness…) because there will be crowds on crowds on crowds. You can skip the museum on your way out; instead, go cool off by the pool in Sigiriya Village or the infinity pool at Jetwing Vil Uyana (just ask one of the tuktuk drivers out front to take you there, and remember, always ask the number of kilometeres first, multiply it by 60 Rs/km, and offer him that price, no matter what he offers you!)