Sigiriya is one of the must-sees and must-do's in central Sri Lanka. Per day 1500 - 2000 travelers come to Sigiriya. If you are visiting Sigiriya there are a number of sites to be seen, such as the Sigiriya Rock Fortress (also known as Lion Rock), Pidurangala Rock and Safari's.
The Sigiriya Rock is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano. Archaeologists believe that this region has been inhabited since the third century B.C. King Kasyapa chose this site for his capital, because, with the 360-degree view from the summit, it would give him an advantage if attacked. With the lower palaces at ground level, the King built a palace on top of the rock and Sigiriya Rock became a major palace as well as a fortress with lower palaces at the ground.
Things to do in Sigiriya:
While Sigiriya Rock is rich in history and has some pretty dramatic features such as the lion’s paw and the mirror wall, Pidurangala Rock has a much more natural feel, despite also housing a monastery.
Pidurangala Rock is adjacent to Sigiriya Rock and is the best viewing point of Sigiriya Rock as it is only slightly lower. Pidurangala is a popular spot for sunrises and sunsets as you can enjoy 360-degree views of not only the valleys but also Sigiriya Rock.
Just a ten-minute drive east of Habarana, Minneriya National Park offers something of a change of scenery. Its centrepiece is the large Minneriya Tank, created by the famous tank-builder and monk-baiter Mahasena, and despite its relatively small size, the park also boasts an unusually wide range of habitat types, from dry tropical forest to wetlands, grasslands and terrain previously used for slash-and-burn (chena) agriculture. Much of the area around the entrance is covered in superb dry-zone evergreen forest dotted with beautiful satinwood, palu (rosewood), halmilla and weera trees – though the thickness of the forest cover means that it’s relatively difficult to spot wildlife.
The principal attraction here is elephants. Minneriya forms part of the elephant corridor that joins up with Kaudulla and Wasgamuwa national parks, and large numbers of the beasts can be found here at certain times of year during their migrations between the various parks – local guides should know where the greatest concentrations of elephants are at any given time.
Kaudulla National Park
Some 22km north of Habarana, Kaudulla National Park was established in 2002 to provide another link in the migratory corridor for elephants, connecting with Minneriya and Wasgamuwa National Parks to the south, and Somawathiya National Park to the north and east. As at Minneriya, the centerpiece is a lake, the Kaudulla Tank, where elephants collect when the water dries up elsewhere. The best time to visit is between August and December, with elephant numbers peaking in September/October (slightly later than Minneriya’s “Gathering”) when up to two hundred congregate at the tank.
Cycling in Sigiriya
Habarana and Sigiriya are two destinations where you could experience authentic rural life and interact with real locals. The everyday life is based on agriculture predominantly, so cycling in these villages will allow you to see vegetable fields, rice fields and various crops farmed by villagers. Not only farming but Sigiriya and Habarana are also hot spots for wildlife and nature. Jungles, lakes and villages are in combination, allowing people to explore the culture, nature and wildlife.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
A great way to experience the exhilaration of flight with a bird’s eye view of the area below, a silent ride through the sky in a hot air balloon. An excursion that has caught on fast with locals and tourist alike is hot air ballooning. Drifting gently over the cultural triangle, or a wildlife park in a hot air balloon will be unforgettable Actually nothing beats a hot air balloon excursion across the central plains in our opinion. Hot air ballooning tours are available from the north central plains of the island and be carried away under blue skies and over the landscape dotted with many little man-made lakes. You might even spot an elephant near these tanks, ancient monuments, propose to your fiancée in a hot air balloon, celebrate your birthday in a hot air balloon or exchange vows and get married in the air! Functioning from Dambulla, the service is available from December to March.