Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sigiriya Lion's Rock - Sri Lanka

The previous post on Sri Lanka ended abruptly with the famous words - "To be continued". There is a valid reason for this. See, back then, I had trouble deciding if I should describe the hotel or Sigiriya Lion's Rock first, without destroying the story telling in any way. Till today, I couldn't come up with a decision, and therefore just randomly picked the Lion's Rock first. 

Sigiriya Lion's Rock

The Sigiriya Lion's Rock beckons people (and umbrellas alike) on a rainy afternoon
Around 2:30 pm or something, the rain had decided to take a short break and ceased pouring water like there was no tomorrow, so we took the opportunity to go to the rock. It was quite a short drive and we finally reached the gates. It was slightly drizzling at this point, but nothing Malaysians who had to deal with unexpected rain almost every day couldn't handle.

The rock apparently was once part of an ancient palace ruin which was recently excavated, and had fountains bubbling half-heartedly, excavated ponds and gardens. For some unknown reason, ancient kings seem to have a thing for gardens, pools and fountains.  We had a different guide take us in (it's apparently part of the tour package we took) and we had to unfortunately follow his schedule while he described what we saw in front of us rather hurriedly as we marched (yes, marched is the word) on to another point of interest. As we made our way, we ended up meeting several 'tourist spot street vendors' who tried selling boxes with hidden compartments. The boxes were really well made and rather heavy - my dad bought one.


After passing through the recently excavated ruins, we had to climb up flights and flights of stairs that have been built to reach the top of the rock, where the best views apparently are. Halfway up, we saw the Mirror Wall, which according to what we've been told is a highly polished surface in which the ancient king could see his reflection. Inside, on the other hand is a bunch of frescoes of maidens that adorns the wall. There used to be quite a lot of these paintings, but years of exposure to the environment had caused some damage and the few that survive today are supposedly preserved by not allowing people to use flash while taking the pictures. Nevertheless, while we were in there, I actually spotted two people surreptitiously (well, maybe not so surreptitiously as I was actually startled by the a few sudden bursts of light in the dark) using flash to take the pictures. I was disgusted.

A side view of the endless flights of stairs

The Mirror Wall
Waaay before Hugh Hefner and his (ahem) famous magazine - taken without the aid of flash being the responsible tourist that I am
After the frescoes, we climbed further up and reached the location where a pair of huge claws lay. There used to be a lion's head here, but it is gone now. Now, this holiday was extremely last minute and we really didn't expect flights and flights of stairs. We are all of a reasonable level of fitness, but my mom has arthritic knees, no one had proper footwear (I was the only one who used sneakers despite the rain as I had lent my mom my flip flops and my sister was wearing her flip flops due to the rain) for climbing slippery stairs. It also started raining again at this point and we decided to give going to the top a miss.

According to the guide, however, on sunny days, you'd get a lot of wasps hanging around stinging people as they made their way to the top. And just the other day, a local travel show (lucky for them, it was sunny that day and I bet their pictures looked way better than mine) showed the traveller screaming 'bees' as he climbed up the very same stairs in the picture below.

This whole area once belonged to a king. It seemed to be quite a challenge going up, what with the stairs and the wasps and the strong winds (if it rains) and we curiously asked the guide how the king managed, seeing that most kings were probably not exactly the fittest people around. Turns out he apparently had people carry him and the queen up there. We made our way down back using the same way except towards the end, as the exit was in a different section. We met our proper guide back there and drove back to the hotel in the rain.

The Claws (sans lion's head)

Turns out Sigiriya Rock gets it's very own post. Ha ha.

For some very strange reason, the song "Revolution Rock" by The Clash rings in my head each time I think of Sigiriya Rock.

18 comments:

  1. omg that looks like so much fun i am jealous! and wonderful pictures, i hope to visit around the world one day

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    1. It was fun, no doubt. I'd like to travel around the world too, someday.

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  2. That seems like a really good place. I'm terrified of heights but I would love to see the view at the top.

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    1. Yeah I'm sure the view from the top is well worth of the efforts made to go up there :)

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  3. Wow those claws look awesome. Sounds like tons of stairs too, at least they were nice and gave you a mirror wall to look at and fix yourself up if need be, thank God for kings..haha

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    1. LOL. yeah, you'd definitely want o look good for photos at the top ;)

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  4. Amazing photos! (wasps?!? no thank you!)

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    1. Ha ha... I feel that way about the wasps too. Thanks :)

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  5. That entrance way is something else.

    I have a think for pools and gardens, too, but no king's income, alas.

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    1. Not having a king's income is probably what's preventing more gardens and pools being built around us, i guess...

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  6. I'm allergic to stairs. Thankfully, you've climbed them for me.

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  7. the place looks great especially the flight of stairs :)

    it irritates me when stupid tourists still take photos in no-photos areas. when i was penguin-watching in the Philip Island, there was a strict no-photography rule cuz it would scare the penguins away, but there was a stupid, stuborn Chinese tourist snapping away despite the ranger telling him not to repetitively. i felt like pushing him off the kerb then.

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    1. Same thing happened when I was there. No idea where the tourist was from, but she looked Asian, definitely. I found it embarrassing, being from Asia myself.

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