Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya

This day started with another long drive to one of the most famous ancient sites in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya or Lion's Rock.  This was definitely a site that we could imagine showing up an Indiana Jones movie. We had heard great things about the site but were also nervous about some stories that talked of dizzying heights, attacking wasps, and aggressive guides.  In the end the only problem was the heat and a few panic attacks from H when we got to the cliffs. 
H and N posing in front of one of the moats.  Their were two moats surrounding the complex that were filled with crocodiles to frustrate any invasion attempts.

The approach to the main site had a few stairways and lots of paths around gardens.  Nothing really to prepare you for the climb ahead.

We were starting to get close enough here to see what we were getting ourselves into.  

It was amazing to see the network of pools and streams that probably provided a lot more life when the area was inhabited.

The rocky areas below had been developed as well so we had fun exploring sites like this, some with cave paintings.

A lot of the giant boulders had stairs and climbing grooves carved on their faces.  H was still feeling confident and excited about the climb at this point.  It didn't last.

A sign of possible trouble ahead.  We stayed quiet.  Very quiet.

At this point the pathway started integrating itself right into the rocks and moved up steeply.

Before we know it we were in a caged spiral staircase moving straight up the cliff face.

This looks like a nice safe spot but without the stairs attached to the cliff and a wall to protect this area we could only imagine the bravery required by the artists to paint this wall on the side of the cliff.

Navigating down from the cliff paintings and back to the trail to the summit.

There was a nice area halfway about before the final climb.  There was once a full lion here and the stairways led directly into his mouth. 

After making it to the top H did not want to let go of anything solid.  He was actually quite shaken by the climb and it took some careful convincing to get him back down.  However, the girls loved the view from the top, and most of us agree that it was well worth the effort.
The top of the rock is covered with the remains of the palace and temples.  After the challenging climb, there was a quiet, meditative quality to the sky, the breeze and the panoramic views. 

The descent back to the lion's paws.

A couple of friends along the way.

It was quite a relief to get back down to steep stairs without a cliff on one side.  You can clearly see the two differing personalities of these kids.  N is feeling proud and carefree.  H is clinging to the rail for dear life, anxious to make it down.

By the end of the day we were glad to not see any more of these.

The natural result of a long day of climbing and exploring under the sun.  A well deserved nap after a challenging and amazing adventure!

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