Sigiriya rock fortress, Sigiriya or Kandy?
Sri Lanka activities

4 Places to visit from Colombo to Sigiriya

The very first activity of the Sigiriya day tour from Colombo is the trek to the Sigiriya rock fortress, which is the main activity on the Sigiriya day trip from Colombo. The trek to the Sigiriya rock fortress lasts around 3-4 hours depending on your physical fitness. After the Sigiriya rock tour, you could start the return journey immediately or have a leisurely lunch in a nearby restaurant.

Ascending the Sigiriya rock
Sigiriya rock climb

Is it possible to visit Sigiriya on a day trip from Colombo?

It is possible to visit Sigiriya rock on a day trip from Colombo. In fact, Sigiriya day trip from Colombo is a very popular activity among the travellers, especially it is a popular Sri Lanka one day trip among foreign travellers.

We receive many requests and inquiries for Sigiriya day trip from Colombo, that’s why I thought of making this article. We receive a frequent email with questions like “Is it possible to visit Sigiriya on a day trip from Colombo”, “What do we see on a day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo”. I think this blog post going to answer most of the questions related to Sigiriya day tour from Colombo.

What are the 4 popular places to visit from Colombo to Sigiriya?

  • Sigiriya rock fortress
  • Dambulla golden cave temple
  • Pinnawala elephant orphanage
  • Pidurangala temple
Sigiriya rock hike, hiking in sri lanka
Sigiriya steps

Important facts about Sigiriya day trip from Colombo

Sigiriya day trip from Colombo is very popular because it allows the tourist to see many important places within a short period of time. The tour lasts around 12 hours. The tourists are able to visit UNESCO world heritage sites, temples, and a wildlife reserve on this one day trip.

What time Sigiriy one day tour starts from Colombo

Unlike most other tours, Sigiriya one day tour from Colombo is fully packed program due to the long journey from Colombo to Sigiriya. It is essential to start the trip early morning in order to cover all the places mentioned above. The tour starts early morning from Colombo and ends the late evening. It is recommended to starts the tour at 05.00 AM. However, Sigiriya one day tour from Colombo is private program, therefore, starting time is flexible.

Why is Sigiriya day trip from Colombo so popular?

Sigiriya rock is the most important tourist attraction on this trip and Dambulla golden cave temple comes immediately behind. The guests need to make hikes at both places. The climb at Sigiriya is little exhausting while the hike at Dambulla is much much easier compared to Sigiriya rock climb. more. Due to the Sigiriya rock climb, Sigiriya one day tour from Colombo is not recommended to travellers with knee problems and back problems. Same times it not suitable for elderly travellers and pregnant ladies.

Sri Lanka historical; places tour
Sigiriya and Dambulla one day trip from Colombo and west coast beach hotels…click here for more info

What is Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is a laid-back, remote village in the north-central province of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya rock is the main attraction that draws travellers into Sigiriya. Sigiriya rock is one of the most visited iconic tourist attractions on the island. This tourist hotspot is visited by many thousands of visitors every day.

Sigiriya Fortress was built in the 5th century AD by ancient Sri Lankan engineers under the rule of King Kashyapa. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the oldest engineering works in the world. Gigantic, Monolithic natural granite rock is residing in the centre of the complex. The rock rises up to 500 meters from the sea-level.

According to the historical notes, the king had a palace on the flat surface of the rock, there is a rock-cut swimming pool on the rock believed to be used by the king. The swimming pool can still be seen on the rock while only the foundation of the palace remains.

The rock was surrounded by a landscaped garden and it was consisting of swimming pools, ponds, fountains, guardrooms, natural caves, audience hall and many other man-made constructions.

It is also proposed that Sigiriya rock fortress should be named the eighth wonder of the world, indicating it is in the same league as other international wonders such as the Grand Canyon and Ancient Pyramids.

Sigiriya frescoes paintings, Where should I visit in Sri Lanka, sigiriya day tour from Colombo

Sigiriya paintings

Sigiriya fresco paintings are another important feature of Sigiriya rock. According to the historians, there had been 500 paintings in the Sigiriya rock fortress, however much of them had been destroyed over the last many centuries. Today the paintings are restricted to the fresco pocket, which is to be found on the northern side of the rock. The paintings are also dating back to 5th century AD and they are depicting beautiful female figures. The paintings show some resemblance to painting at Ajanta cave paintings and they were done using natural colours.

Graffiti of the mirror wall

The habit of travelling and visiting important tourist attractions had been an activity for many millennia. There had been ancient travellers like Vasco de Gama, Lorenzo De Almeda, who ventured into many places around the world.

Sigiriya rock fortress also had been a popular place among the ancient travellers and it was frequented by locals as well as foreign visitors. The Sigiriya graffiti or the mirror wall is providing valuable evidence to prove its popularity in the past. The mirror wall reveals a multitude of fine graffiti incised shallowly in an unfamiliar script, these are the scribblings left by visitors to the rock in centuries gone by. These neatly, incised small letters had done negligible damage to the shining plaster of the mirror wall.

Many of the writing of mirror wall attributed to 7th to 11th century AD. According to the archaeologist Dr.Paranavithana, they are expressions in verse, some of the high poetic order. The verses were composed by these early writers are eloquent of their impressions of the magnificent and delightful sights at Sigiriya.  

Ingenious Sigiriya fountains

Sigiriya fountain garden is one of the most striking features of this 5th-century garden. The fountains are to be found near the main entrance of Sigiriya rock fortress, which is the entrance to the rock fortress from the west.

There are 4 fountains are to be found at present. According to the historians, the engineers had applied hydraulic principles as they were planing the fountains. The fountains are fed by the water of Sigiriya lake, which is located behind the rock, about 200 meters from the fountains. Underground terracotta pipes have been used to supply the water to the fountains.

The underground terracotta pipes are open to the air with granite, round-shaped slabs. These slabs have one small hole in the middle and a few other holes around it. The holes are about 10 cm in diameter. The underground terracotta pipes are built and planned such an away that it creates pressure as the water reaches the end of the pipe. This pressure spurts the water into the air with big pressure. The fountains are working in a natural way.

Sigiriya day tour from Colombo
Sigiriya rock climb through the woods

The present condition of Sigiriya fountains

The fountains are still working even after 1500 years after its constructions. The water rises about a foot from the ground at present, however, it is visible only during the rainy season when the water level of the lake is high. Unfortunately, the underground pipes have not been maintained, since it was rediscovered by the archaeologists. However, these ingenious constructions made by ancient engineers are still functioning even after the 1500 year since its inception.

How much of distance to be covered on the Sigiriya rock tour

Sigiriya rock fortress is tucked away 173 km from Colombo. It will take about 4 hours to reach Sigiriya if you use road transport. The time calculated here is based on private transport such as a taxi. If you use public transport such as public bus it would take around 6 hours. Most Sigiriya day tour from Colombo starts early hours due to the long distance.

Starting time of Sigiriya rock tour

I think it is very important to talk about the starting time of the day trip. Starting the trip early morning is very important due to the long transfer from Colombo to Sigiriya. Unlike most other Sri Lanka trips this Starting time of Sigiriya day tour from Colombo starts even before the sunrise.

Local tour operators such as Seerendipity tours organize daily trips to Sigiriya from Colombo. Usually, this Sigiriya day tour from Colombo starts around 05.00 am. However, the time of Starts is flexible because this is a private tour.

The starting point of Sigiriya rock tour

Sigiriya day trip from Colombo is mainly a private tour package starts from 40+ hotels on the west coast of Sri Lanka and Colombo. The travellers from Negombo and Bentota, which are not within the borders of Colombo also can book the trip, however, the pick-up time can be changed based on the distance between your hotel and Colombo.  

What is the weather like in Sigiriya?

Sigiriya is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, where the temperature hovering above 30 degrees Celsius. Therefore, tourists on Sigiriya day trip from Colombo are exposed to high temperature and high humidity.

What to wear on Sigiriya day trip from Colombo?

It is highly advised to dressing in a light cotton dress and wear comfortable shoes for travellers, who undertake Sigiriya day trip from Colombo.

Sigiriya rock hike, hiking in sri lanka

What you need to bring for Sigiriya day tour from Colombo

Sigiriya rock climb lasts around 1 hour and it can be less or more based on your physical fitness. The visitors are using the ancient steps caved onto the natural rock, which is worn. Most of the ancient steps are narrow. A part of the steps is newly created using iron E.g. the stairs after the lion’s paw are created more solidly using the iron. It is easy to climb on newly created stairs than on the ancient steps.

It is highly recommended to wear comfy shoes in order to make the climb easier and comfortable. Sigiriya rock climb is purely an outdoor activity and visitors are fully exposed to the strong sunlight. A physical activity under High-humidity and warm weather makes you sweat a lot, therefore, it is highly recommended to take enough fluid before you start the climb.   

The visitors are not able to buy drinking water once they enter the site, same times there is no possibility to use the toilet in between the climb.

Sigiriya day tour from Colombo in a nutshell

Sigiriya day tour from Colombo is considered as a must-do activity when holidaying in Colombo. The trip starts at 05.00 am from Colombo and you will reach Sigiriya about at around 09.00 am. However, the duration of the transfer can be varied due to traffic conditions.

The very first activity of the trip is the trek to the Sigiriya rock fortress, which is the main activity on this Sigiriya day tour from Colombo. The trek to the Sigiriya rock fortress lasts around 3-4 hours depending on your physical fitness.

After the climb at Sigiriya rock fortress, you could start the return journey immediately or have a leisurely lunch in a nearby restaurant.

Sigiriya day tour itinerary

  • Pick up from Colombo hotel for the Sigiriya rock tour and drive to Sigiriya – Approximately 4 hours drive
  • Trekking to the Sigiriya rock fortress (2 hours), a UNESCO World Heritage site which is one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world dating back to 5th century AD.
  • Visit Pidurangala temple
  • Lunch break and rest in a restaurant
  • Safari at Minneriya national park
  • Start the return journey
  • Stop at cave temple of Dambulla after about 30-minute drive from Sigiriya. The temple resides off the main road in the woods. It is surrounded by rice paddies, jungle, the plot of vegetable and many other historical monuments.
  • Transfer to Colombo and end of Sigiriya rock tour – Approximately 4-5 hour drive

The cost of Sigiriya day tour from Colombo

Sigiriya day tour from Colombo cost US$ 70 per person on twin sharing basis. The tour can be started from 140+ hotels on the west coast, but there may be a slight difference in rates depending on transfer cost from the hotel to Colombo.

Standing Buddha at Dambulla cave temple,Visiting Sri Lanka Buddhist temples, Sri Lanka temple dress code, temple of the tooth dress code, Sigiriya day trip from Colombo

Visiting Dambulla cave temple on Sigiriya day tour from Colombo

Visiting Dambulla golden cave temple is one of the most important activities on the Sigiriya one day tour from Colombo. Dambulla cave temple resides very close to Sigiriya rock and it is merely an 18 km from Sigiriya rock to Dambulla cave temple. The temple is to be found on the main highway from Colombo to Sigiriya, means that you do spend only a few minutes for travelling.   

Visiting Dambulla cave temple is a mandatory part of every trip to Sigiriya rock fortress. Dambulla is another tourist hotspot on the island and visited by almost every visitor of Sigiriya. In terms of historical value, Dambulla is not second to any tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. The temple dates back to 1st century BC, which is one of the oldest cate temples in the World. Dambulla cave temple is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Sri Lanka Two Week Itinerary, Sigiriya day trip from Colombo

Statues and paintings of Dambulla cave temple

Dambulla golden cave temple hides hundreds of Buddha statues, god figures and statues of few Sri Lankan kings. The inner surface of the natural cave and the ceiling of the caves are hidden with thousands of ancient paintings. These paintings depict various sceneries from the stories of Buddha’s life.

Dambulla rock cave temple is to be found near the Dambulla town, the gigantic rock rises up to 160m above the surrounding land. Dambulla Rock is more the 1.5km around its base and summit is at 550km. It is believed the spacious granite caves, where the temple is to be found was inhabited by monks in the past.

More than 100 Buddha statues in different sizes are spreading in 5 caves. 2nd cave is the biggest of five granite caves, which houses 150 statues. Several reclining Buddha statues are to be found in the temples and the largest reclining Buddha statue is in the 1st cave, which is 15 meters long, it is rock-cut Buddha statue. The figures in the temple originated in the different eras and they are made of wood and clay while few statues are hewn of granite.  

Pidurangala cave temple

History of Dambulla cave temple

The caves believed to be providing shelter to one of the Kings in the 1st century BC, during the south Indian invasion. King Walagambahu had lived in the cave for more than a decade until he regained his throng. Later the king had expelled the invaders and became the king. Upon his succession, to the kingship, the King had converted the caves into a magnificent Buddhist temple and donated to the monks with the surrounding farmlands. These farmlands supposed to provide financial support to maintain the temple. Even today the temple is under the supervision of monks and large areas around the temple is belong to the temple. The site has been repaired and repainted several times in the 11th, 12th and 18th centuries.

Visiting pidurangala cave temple on Sigiriya one day tour from Colombo
The birds-eye view of Pidursnagala rock

Visiting Pidurangala on your Sigiriya rock tour

Usually, a Sigiriya rock tour includes a visit to Pidurangaa temple, which had been a part of Sigiriya rock fortress. The temple is only a few hundred meters away from the rick and believed to be used by queens.

Pidurangala cave

Towards the north-east of Sigiriya Rock is a famous hill of Pidurangala rising about one mile from the site. Pidurangala rock cave temple is also a part of many Sri Lanka tours that include Sigiriya and Dambulla caves. The rock abruptly rises up to 200 m from the surrounding area, which is the base of the temple. An ancient cave dates back to Anuradhapura period, with an inscription written below the drip ledge, situated at the foot of the hill has been restored to a modern vihara. By this site, an ancient path of rough stepping stones leads up the hill where the overhanging rock on the eastern side shelters a very long cave.

History of Pidurangala rock cave temple

King Kashyapa who built Sigiriya also built Pidurangala rock cave temple. This monastery housed over 500 Buddhist monks and was completed with the five ritual sections: the chapter house, image house, a Bo-tree, a shrine and monks dwellings. In Pidurangala rock are meditation caves, paintings, and a statue of a reclining Buddha.

Pidurangala rock temple is one of the well known historical places on the island. A part of the Pidurangala rock temple is located at the base of the mountain and rest of the temple is built to close to the pinnacles. Built on this Pidurangala rock are a Buddhist monastery and a cave temple.

This reclining Buddha statue can be seen on top of the Pidurangala rock
This reclining Buddha statue can be seen on top of the Pidurangala rock

Image house

Image house of Piduranghala rock cave temple is built in a huge granite cave located at the ground level houses several Buddha statues in meditation, standing and reclining postures. The image house of Pidurangala rock cave temple is also dating back to the 5th century AD (as old as Sigiriya rock fortress). There is a number of paintings and statues at Pidurangala rock cave temple image house depicting various incidents of Buddha’s life.

Pidurangala rock

Also at the summit, Pidurangala rock is the remnant of the shrine and the site at which young monks were taught. Remarkably, the Pidurangala rock has drip ledge to prevent rain from falling into the meditation caves. The rock edges are carved on to the outer surface of the opening and it is one of the oldest engineering works in the world. A Brahmi inscription on one of these drop edges the original temple back to the period of third century B.C.

The Sigiriya area has many such cave dwellings used by monks for meditation but it is believed that given Kashyapa’s patronage, Pidurangala rock temple had prominence as the spiritual centre for his court.

How do I go to Pidurangala rock cave temple?

Pidurangala rock cave temple is located towards the southern borders of Sigiriya rock fortress and near Sigiriya nature reserve. The narrow road that goes along the water ditch makes the way to Pidurangala rock cave temple. Today it is one of the major religious places in the area and attracts a large number of local devotees. A part of the historical Pidurangala rock cave temple is located on a mountain while the rest of it to be found at the ground level of the hill.

At the Pidurangala rock, there is a 14 meter long Buddha statue believed to be dating back to the 5th century AD. The Buddha statue is made of bricks shows fine craftsmanship of the historical artisans. Unfortunately, the part of the statue is destroyed by the relic hunters in the past. There is a big hole dug into the statue in the belly area of the reclining Buddha statue. The footpath between the dry zone forest vegetation leads to the summit. There are several caves on the rocky hill of Pidurangala and they had been using by the residential monks in the early days.

Sigiriya rock view from Pidurangala temple
Sigiriya rock view from Pidurangala temple

What do I see in Pidurangal rock cave temple?

Within the cave, numerous chambers built of small stones and clay plaster face the eastern direction. An inscription datable to the 7th century has been found on the rocky ground in front of cave 9 and records the grant of gold and paddy fields. It is still recognizable on the brick wall of this chamber painting of a female figure in green in much the same style as the paintings on the main rock of Sigiriya. The chamber 10 also built of brick and plastered white is the largest within the cave. Much of the plaster is lost from the walls of this main shrine room which contains along with the brick and stucco recumbent image of the Buddha.

Archaeologists are in different views as far as the beginning of the temple is a concern, as the archaeologist’s claim that the temple was built from 5th to 10th century.  The two side walls of the shrine belong to a later period than the walls of the other chambers. On the outer face of these two walls are to be seen pilasters moulded in brick and plastered and recessed arches. Beyond the shrine, there are the remains of another chamber and two rock-cut ponds lie further ahead.

Reasons to book Sigiriya day trip from Colombo with Seerendipity

Seerendipity tour is a fully locally owned travel company with the head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka trip

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, it means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Local expertise and personalize service

Our staff make a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write us on admin@seerendipitytours.com

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on admin@seerendipitytours.com... read more

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