Sigiriya is very famous in Sri Lanka. It’s one of the tourist hotspots, as is evident from the AC buses unloading on the main road and countless hotels spread throughout the area. Sigiriya itself consists of beautiful gardens, ancient ruins and irrigation systems, ancient texts and the remnants of a massive lion. According to the Buddhist text Mahavamsa, this rock was built over two thousand years ago by a fervent king, and after his death it became a monastery.

Despite it’s lure I didn’t go. The Sri Lankan government has an outrageous policy of overcharging policy of overcharging tourists for tickets. So instead I went to the rock right next door, Pidurangala, where a monk demanded 200 rupees to enter. It was well worth it, with incredible views of Sigiriya and the thousands of acres of jungle around. I went up to Pidurangala at least four times.

Anya doing some yoga as the sun sets. I met with Maria and Anya in Sigiriya, and we spent some time exploring the area.

A temple on the way to the top. Everything inside was carved out of the stone of the rock

The monastery’s bell to signal for meal-time and other events

Excavation project at the outskirts of the complex

The two rocks from across a water reservoir. We came here to swim a couple times. This entire region is experiencing a serious drought… This was the only significant body of water to be seen. Saw a crocodile eying me and swimming in my direction, which was enough to get me out, fast.

Do you believe it?

Getting down in the dark was a little tricky, but the bright moon and stars (together with a powerful flashlight) made it all right. We saw a group of porcupines and I was quite relieved they weren’t the cobras we were warned about.

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