We decided to hire a driver to visit the sites of Dambulla and Sigrinya, as they were just far enough away that taking buses would have made for a stressful day. Our first stop was Dambulla, where we climbed a hill and saw the famous cave temples. There are five different temples perched on the top of the hill, with statues of Buddha and beautiful cave paintings inside them. We spent time exploring these and watching some of the people worshipping and bringing flower offerings.
After a lunch break we headed to Sigriya, also known as the Lion Rock. The top of this rock was the site of King Kasyapa’s city in 480AD. Mum checked out the museum while Reuben and I headed up the rock. A short stroll through the water gardens brought us to the foot of the rock, where we took a steep staircase up the side of the rock. About a third of the way up, we took a side route up a steep spiral staircase attached to the side of the rock, which led to the famous cave frescoes depicting women (possibly mythical beings). We had seen copies of these in the museum in Colombo, so it was really interesting to see the real thing.
Going back down the staircase we continued around the side of the rock and up to a large plateau where two lion’s paws remain (pictured above) – the only remnants of the former entrance. We climbed right up to the top from here and explored the layout of the former palace as well as the stunning views. The climb was steep but not actually as bad as I had thought it would be – the whole walk there and back took under two hours in the early afternoon heat and we definitely took our time taking photos and exploring. We really enjoyed our trip but though both were quite steep – at $15 NZD each for Dambulla and $36 NZD each for Sigiriya they seemed very expensive compared to other World Heritage sites we have visited. (Sometime in the future I will write about the different sites we have visited and the price for each for entry!)