Friday, November 2, 2012

The Magnificence of Sigiriya Rock: Sri Lankan Diaries

It was THE experience of Sri Lanka, to think that I didn't know anything about it. It would rival any Cambodian temple, all to greater heights literally. I will be senselessly raving about this part of my trip to Sri Lanka, since up to this writing, I cannot get over the experience I had in Sigiriya.



It was just a rock, a rock that stood out among the vast arid plains of Dambulla, yet where the trees were in bright green and the lily ponds were alive.


I really didn't understand why this place was notable at first, since I wasn't briefed in its history. We arrived late at around 4PM, and upon arriving at the ticket office, we were told that it would close down in an hour.


We were already here, so we figured to continue on to explore the place in the limited time that we had. 


I was immediately reminded of Angkor Wat, with the grand moat that surrounded the entire rock fortress. There were monkeys by the banks, and unike Angkor, no one was around. I was truly intrigued, but still unprepared on what was to greet me as I approached the rock.


The gardens around the rock was amazing in itself. As I've said, Sigiriya rock was a sacred place, a temple to the Sri Lankan gods. It is the premier site of the cultural triangle, a soaring pillar of rock that amazes even from afar.


The Royal Gardens first greet you upon entering the ticket gates. A path leads you straight to the center of Sigiriya rock, which makes you feel you are taking a pilgrimage of sorts. 


Then you begin to climb up the steps with some warnings of wasp attacks. At first, I was hesitant at going up, since it was also already late, and the climb looked exhausting. But I was already there, and I was just too curious to know what was in the summit.


So I continued my climb up, and just after the first hundred steps, I was overwhelmed already with the view. A guard was telling me to push further up, even though the wind was strong and managed to knock me off balance. 


The steps led to the frescos that were etched on the rock, halfway up. I was already at awe at this point, since again, I wasn't expecting anything. I took a while to admire the drawings on the wall in a sheltered make shift gallery.


The painting date far back to the 5th century as I was told by the guard. I was amazed at the bright colors of the frescos, and how intricate they were.


I moved on to what they call the Mirror Wall that had a path that clung to the side of the rock. The wall was etched with ancient graffiti that expressed its visitor's impressions of the paintings of Sigiriya. 


The sun was beginning to set, and the view was becoming more stunning. I was impressed how the rock was converted to be tourist friendly, without destroying its charm. 


I push upwards and ended up in the Lion's Paw at the northern end of the rock. A great archeological site, the Lion's Paw was excavated at this part of the rock in 1898. It then became the start of the path upwards to the summit, which to me was sort of a gate.  


I finally reached the summit, despite being overly cautious about the wasp mounds visible on the edges of the rock. There were people going down already in coats to protect themselves from impending wasp attacks. I wasn't given any, so I was kind of weary.


But all that stress vanished when I reached the summit. I totally forgot how ignorant I was when I arrived at Sigiriya. I was all in awe at the view that I hated myself for doubting to climb the rock.


The view was AMAZING, and I felt like I was really on top of the world. It was exhilarating as the wind was blowing like hell across the summit. 


Sigiriya was an ancient city perched on top of a rock and the ruins were stunning. I began imaging what the place looked like during its glory days. Majestic indeed.


I explored the summit and saw this body of water, which was a bathing pool. It was a swimming pool on top of this ancient rock, and looked very mysterious with its calm waters. I presumed that it wasn't deep.


The sun was already setting, and so I took the time to relish the beauty of nature on top of this ancient and magnificent rock. I was already alone, and I just couldn't help but meditate. It was the same feeling I had in the Jade Snow Mountain in China. 


In all angles, the view was astounding. There was a small mount from a distance that looked like another Sigiriya.


I headed down as I was losing day light already, and Paulo and Tala were still waiting for me at the foot of the rock. I was extremely impressed with Sigiriya that I became overly excited with the next chapter of my Sri Lankan journey. 


Sigiriya Rock boasted of magnificence with a backdrop of a gorgeous sunset. I was ready. I was in Sri Lanka. I couldn't help but nod my head in disbelief as I shared my experience of the summit to Paulo and Tala. I just wasn't prepared for this. Sri Lanka has got me going, and I was expecting more now.



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