Sigiriya, located in the central Matale district is an ancient rock fortress and city in the central province of Sri Lanka. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, Sigiriya is Asia’s best preserved city of the first millennium. The spectacular rock fortress stands majestically at a height of around 200 metres overlooking luscious green forest surroundings. The ancient ruins of the palace which was built by King Kasyapa is one of the major tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. The Sigiriya rock fortress also known as Lions Rock consists the remains of an ancient city, moats, ramparts and water gardens at the top of the summit. Halfway up the stone stairway, leading from the base to the top is a pair of lion paws which are in fact the remnants of the ancient gateway. The name Sigiriya is derived from this structure. This popular UNESCO Heritage Site is a not to be missed attraction when in the beautiful island country of Sri Lanka. Muslim visitors should be aware that locating Muslim-friendly facilities in Sigiriya will prove to be difficult.
Sigiriya is a popular destination for those looking for heritage tours of the country. The city is centrally located and is in close proximity to other cities of historical interest such as Dambulla, Pollonnaruwa and Anuradapura. Visitors should start of their holiday in this historical city by paying a visit to the famous rock fortress. A tour of this historical site is not complete without climbing the rock fortress. With approximately 1200 steps to the summit it is well worth the effort as the view from the top of the rock fortress is exhilarating and gives visitors the opportunity to appreciate the amazing feat of the building project undertaken by King Kasyapa 1600 years ago. Climbing the Sigiriya rock is strenuous and takes about 60 to 90 minutes to reach the summit. The rock fortress climb will be a fun activity for families with older children, however for those with small children climbing the rock might not be a good idea as the steps are quite steep and therefore it may not be a safe activity to engage in.
Pidurangala rock, located about 2 kilometres north of Sigiriya is usually overlooked, but this mountain also has an interesting history. Tourists could also pay a visit to the Sigiriya Museum which has an audio visual show that gives tourists a good background of Sigiriya. The museum bookshop has a good selection of books of Sri Lankan history.
Other activities visitors could also enjoy while here, are an elephant ride, hiking, trekking and cycling.
The closest major airport to Sigiriya is the Bandaranayke International Airport in Katunayake; which is Sri Lanka’s main airport and is situated approximately 153 kilometres from the center of Sigiriya. This airport has international and domestic flights. Visitors could use the airport shuttle services to get to their destination.
There are no known halal restaurants in Sigiriya and the surrounding area. Muslim visitors will have to dine on seafood or vegetarian dishes in non-halal restaurants. They will however have to ensure that the ordered item does not contain any non-halal ingredients. Most of the star class hotels offer buffets with options for vegetarians. Guests could also inform the hotel in advance of the requirement of halal food and some of these hotels may have some halal options for their Muslim guests. They should also be aware that most restaurants serve alcohol.
Muslim travelers will not be able to find mosques in Sigiriya. However they could offer their prayers in their hotel rooms before they leave for the day’s activities. Since Sigiriya is a small area visitors will be able to return to their hotels at prayer time.