In the middle of Sri Lanka’s lush jungle rises a majestic hill. Sigiriya, the famous Lion Rock. Climbing this special rock formation is a breathtaking experience – in many ways.
What is Leijonakallio?
Situated near Dambulla, the 200-meter-high Lion Rock, or Sigiriya, is Sri Lanka’s most famous attraction. The mighty rock fortress is so beautiful that locals call Leijonakallio one of the “eight wonders of the world”.
The Lion Rock is named after two large stone-carved lion paws guarding the entrance to the Royal Palace on either side of the road to the top. The name Sigiriya comes from the word Sihagri, meaning lion rock.
The paws have originally remained from the entire lion statue, and the stairs leading to the top of Leijonakallio were once transported from the gill of this huge stone lion. Today there are no more awesome paws left.
The staircase leading to the top has as many as 1,200 steps. However, they are worth climbing hard, as there is also a lot to see along the way.
At the foot of Leion’s Rock
The gardens at the foot of Leijonakallio are among the oldest in the entire Asian continent. King Kasyapa established the gardens as early as 1,500 years ago and built canals and complex irrigation systems on them.
The first garden is called Water Gardens and, as its name implies, consists of geometric plantations with creeks, canals, fountains, dams and pools where flowering aquatic plants grow. The water systems are surrounded by beautiful tropical flowers and trees, and the complex irrigation systems work just as well to this day.
After the Water Gardens, it’s the turn of Boulder Gardens, whose massive boulders resting here and there form a stark contrast to the symmetry of the water garden.
Trails have been built into Boulder Gardens, cruising between boulders and ancient ruins.
After passing through the beautiful gardens, you will arrive at the entrance of Leijonakallio and you will finally see the lion paws that gave the fortress its name.
On the way to the top
The trip to the top of Leijonakallio also offers many exciting experiences.
In the middle, climbers will find 18 colorful and remarkably well-preserved frescoes painted on the west wall of the rock. The paintings depict mysteriously smiling half-dressed women holding flowers in their hands. The frescoes are believed to depict the king’s wives and concubines.
Originally, there were about 500 paintings that circled the entire rock, but most of them have been destroyed over time.
The Mirror Wall near the frescoes is a wall that was once polished so bright that the king could see his mirror image from it.
Today, the Red Wall is no longer quite mirror-clear, but instead of admiring your mirror image, you can read about 1,800 poems, graffiti, and curse words engraved on the wall between 600 and 1400.
Interesting graffiti gives a good picture of Sri Lankan society hundreds of years ago.
At the top of Leion’s Rock
After about 45 minutes of climbing, you reach the highest peak of the cliff.
At the top of Leijonakallio, you can explore the historic ruins of an ancient fortress. The magnificent gardens, terraces and pools of the fortress were also built more than 1,500 years ago by order of King Kasyapa.
In addition to the ruins, Leijonakallio rewards the top with an incredibly beautiful panoramic view over Sri Lanka’s green forests and mountainous areas. In clear weather you can see from here all the way to Dambulla, 19 km away.
Leijonakallio is a UNESCO World Heritage Site also because its ruins are considered one of the best preserved early urban planning representatives in Asia and the world.
Beijing a southern Asian country by Countryaah, Sri Lanka is an incredibly interesting country full of one of the more amazing attractions.
The Lion Rock is almost a must visit when traveling to Sri Lanka.