n weiter Ferne schimmert die Shilouette des riesigen Felsmonolithen von Sigiriya am schweißgebadeten tropischen Horizont. Farther away, the shilouette of the huge Sigiriya rock monolith shimmers along the sweat-drenched tropical horizon. For many who come to Sri Lanka, the lion rock Sigiriya with the frescoes of the cloud girls is the symbol of the country. For a brief moment, the sight of the rock swears an awesome silence in us. Then click the cameras, as in almost every second since we entered this island and the magic moment dissolves immediately. Our catamaran cruises slowly over the lotus-covered pond. Waterfowl flee and the old rock is resting in it until we slowly approach it.
As I stand in front of the entrance gates of the Lion Rock Sigiriya, there is no trace of this magical sight. It seems as if you have to look at the main attraction of Sri Lanka from afar to explore its uniqueness. Tourists wearing trekking sandals and Asian girls climbing the lion cliffs of Sigiriya in droves. And first of all, visiting the main attraction of Sri Lanka - the Lion Rock Sigiriya and the frescoes of the Cloud Girls - is not a walk. It's a ordeal. In oppressive sultry tropical heat you fight in line in the tourist queue on a narrow spiral staircase up higher and higher. When you get to the top, you have almost nothing left for the world-famous cloud girls because you are completely out of breath. The frescoes of the cloud girls can be reached halfway up the mighty rock monolith. You are under a rock overhang.
The frescoes of the cloud girls at the Lion Rock Sigiriya
1,500 years old are the frescoes of the Wolkenmädchen. Her bare breasts are still attracting attention. In the 1970s, they received breast lifts from the painters during restoration work - the nipples were set slightly above for beautification reasons. Once upon a time, the pornographic scenes were for King Kassapa, who had the most beautiful girls from his harem painted on the rocks here. Originally it should have been over 200 girls. Photography is strictly prohibited, as if you were still a spark of decorum.
The Lion Rock Sigiriya - a kingdom on a rock
The strenuous ascent continues on the Löwenfelsen until you reach the entrance gate: the Löwentor. I'm a little bit angry with the strange hat monkeys racing past me on the steep rock face as if it were a race. With its magnificent lion paws, the gate symbolizes the power of King Kassapa, who hid here for fear of the revenge of his half-brother. King Kassapa murdered his father to seize the throne. He banished his half-brother, the rightful heir to the throne, into exile. It went well for 18 years, until the brother came back and won his rightful place. That was in the 4th century BC. After that, the kingdom fell into oblivion on the Lion Rock Sigiriya. The nature overgrew the former fortress and the palace grounds.
Today you can only see the last remnants of the highest plateau of the Lion Rock Sigiriya: pleasure gardens with swimming pools and palace ruins - a barely imaginable world of splendor on a rock monolith in the middle of nowhere. Who would suspect today what a tumultuous party up here in lofty heights took place? The view from up here compensates for the exhausting climb. Around the rock you can see across the expanse of the land, a seemingly endless green jungle plain in the hazy light of the tropical sultriness. What silence must there be up here, would no one else be here? A forgotten kingdom on a rocky plateau - where else can you find it?
The descent is felt faster. Down below, a snake charmer with cobra and python crouches in front of souvenir stalls, which has cost me a panic attack. Our drivers surprised us with a sweet pineapple - just right after this ordeal.
UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya
The Lion Rock Sigiriya and the Cloud Girl Frescoes have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982.
Is it worth the ascent to the Lion Rock Sigiriya?
Although many tourists visit the main attraction of Sri Lanka, the ascent to Sigiriya is definitely worth it. You have to climb 200 meters over stairs and the tropical hot heat. In addition, it is sometimes steeply downhill, so that people with vertigo could get a bit of a bummer, but you should still dare, because the lion rock Sigiriya and the frescoes of the Wolkenmädchen must have seen in any case, if you are in Sri Lanka. The history around the rock should be known in mMm and you can imagine it all the better when you look at the palace ruins on the rock itself. The view compensates everything again!
How much time should I plan for visiting Sigiriya?
It depends a bit on how much is going on, because depending on the onslaught, it can come on the stairs to "traffic jams". You can be through with everything in 2 hours. However, I would advise you to allow at least 2-4 hours to visit Sigiriya, then you will have enough time to look at the historical excavations, enjoy the view, or take a stroll in the gardens below with the swimming pools and moats.
Opening hours: daily 7 to 19 o'clock
My tip for photographers: Pidurangala rocks
If you want to have a breathtaking view of the Lion Rock Sigiriya and look for beautiful photo opportunities, you can climb the nearby rock Pidurangala (about 1 km from Sigiriya). From there you have a great view of the Lion Rock Sigiriya - but you have to visit the in any case! So it's best to visit both. It is best to use the early morning or evening hours to get the best light conditions - at noon it is very hazy. In addition, there are fewer tourists on the way - even on Pidurangala romping Instagrammer meanwhile. For an insider's tip seldom stays long.
I stayed at the beautiful Elephant Oak Inn in Habarana for 2 nights. Habarana is best for exploring the Cultural Triangle: Sigiriya, Dambulla and Polonaruwa. The hotel was one of the nicest on my Sri Lanka trip -wonderful rooms, a great garden with two large swimming pools. The food in the hotel also tasted very good.
Other useful information
- Sri Lanka travel tips for travel planning
- Money away on vacation - what to do in case of theft?
- Withdrawing money abroad
Read my complete Sri Lanka travelogues or itinerary here:
- Travel planning Sri Lanka
- My itinerary through Sri Lanka for later travel
- Applying for a Sri Lanka visa - step by step guide
- Is the Lion Rock Sigiriya worth it?
- The old royal city Polonnaruwa
- The cave temples of Dambulla and other highlights
- Trincomalee and the unknown East Coast
- Hike to the Knuckles Range
- The Holy City of Kandy with many tips
- Train ride through the Central Highlands
- Hike to World`s End in the Horton Plains National Park
- Safari in the Udawale National Park
Sri Lanka Travel Tips: The Best Travel Guide for Sri Lanka
The best travel guide for individual travel in Asia:
Stefan Loose travel guide Sri Lanka: with travel atlas *
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