Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Starting our day at Sigiriya Rock, we arrived by local bus at the entrance to the entrance. We decided to walk as opposed to taking a tuk-tuk, so off we walked along the main dirt road that led us to one of Sri Lanka’s most famous sights.
The scenic 30-45 minute walk led us past flourishing gardens and small ponds where waterbirds sat sunning their feathers. All around the ponds are signs warning of crocodiles and even though we didn’t spot any, make sure you are always aware of your surroundings.
Before entering the grounds of the ruins and rock you must purchase your ticket at a separate counter. Around the same area is a free bathroom, cafeteria and a few other things. I purchased a quick snack and we got our $30 per person tickets and entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We walked along the path through the ruins of the Royal Gardens, the Water Gardens and the Audience Hall to make our way to the famous Lion’s paws.
Once we reached the entrance of the Lion’s paws, after already climbing quite a bit of stairs, we began our final ascent to the top. There are signs everywhere warning visitors to be silent due to the large wasp nests and possibility of a wasp attack. Luckily, we didn’t encounter any wasp attacks but they can happen and when they do the climb to the top of the rock is closed down.
We climbed all the stairs to the top and spent some time taking photos of the incredible views from atop the rock. All along the top of the Rock Fortress you can see the archaeological remains of the buildings that once stood atop the enormous rock. Surrounding the grounds is a large, lush forest that stretches on for miles.
After spending a couple of hours exploring the Rock Fortress and surrounding area we headed back down.
Exiting through a different path, we caught the bus back to Dambulla at the main entrance. The bus arrived within 10 minutes and we paid our 70 LKR to go back to Dambulla.
Dambulla Cave Tempes
Back in Dambulla we jumped into an inexpensive tuk tuk to drive us to the entrance of the Dambulla Cave Temples about 10 minutes away from the bus station. We were dropped off right at the base of the stairs leading up to the caves where we purchased our $10 per person tickets.
With our shoes removed, we entered the cave monestary and began exploring each of the five caves. The five caves are separate and contain 150 elaborately painted Buddha statues and paintings collectively.
The Buddha statues in each of the cave rooms are enormous and highly impressive. Dating back to over 2000 years, the Dambulla Cave Temples still serve as an active monestary to this day. Restoration work is constantly being carried out to ensure that the gorgeous works of art last for many more decades to come.
After our visit we headed down to the main entrance to catch a tuk tuk ride back to the bus station. We informed our driver that we wanted to be taken to the bus station to catch the bus back to Kandy. During our drive to the bus station he saw the bus to Kandy and flagged them down in the middle of the road so we could jump right onto the bus. Unfortunately, we hit some heavy traffic on the way back to Kandy but with the windows down and breeze flowing our longer ride back wasn’t so bad.
Getting to Dambulla & Sigiriya Rock from Kandy
While many visitors stay overnight in the area of Dambulla for these sights we did a day trip from Kandy. Waking up early at our hotel in Kandy we quickly hailed one of the cost effective tuk-tuk’s to drive us the short distance to the bus station. Like our previous experience at the bus station, this was no different. Sri Lankan’s are quite friendly and helpful so all we ever needed to do was tell someone our end destination and they would point us in the right direction. We boarded the local bus, took our seats and paid the 98 LKR ($0.64) per person for our 2 hour ride to Dambulla. Once we arrived in Dambulla, we exited that bus and boarded another one to take us to Sigiriya. After paying 35 LKR ($0.23) per person, we arrived at the entrance of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress just 30 min later.
After our couple hours at Sigiriya we took the local bus back to Dambulla. From there we took an inexpensive tuk-tuk to and from the entrance of the Dambulla Cave Temples. We returned back to Kandy by bus that evening.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress: $30 per person
Dambulla Cave Temples: $10 per person
Both sites except US Dollars, as well as, Sri Lankan Rupees