Pidurangala Vihara

If you’re planning on hiking in Sri Lanka, chances are the Pidurangala rock is high up on your list. Now, while completing this hike will net you an amazing view with the Sigiriya rock in the distance, on the way up you’ll run into another impressive site – the Pidurangala Viharaya.

Ji-Elle, Sigiriya depuis Pidurangala (2), CC BY-SA 3.0

How to Get There

The best way to reach Pidurangala is to reach Sigiriya via Dambulla. If you take the bus from the Dambulla bus station you’ll arrive in about an hours’ time. A taxi or tuk-tuk is also an option, particularly if you want to start your hike up in time to catch either the sunrise or sunset.

Where to Stay

Due to Pidurangala’s proximity to Sigiriya – a UNESCO world heritage site – you should have no trouble finding all manners of accommodation options for your trip. If you’re specifically looking for a luxury Sigiriya hotel, in particular, consider the Water Garden Sigiriya Hotel.

The History of the Temple

Pidurangala was a Buddhist monastery as far back as the first century BC, but it rose to prominence during the reign of King Kashyapa, around 473-495 AD. The King, fearing an invasion from India, wanted to setup a fortress atop Sigirya – which was also a monastery at the time. As such, King Kashyapa requested the monks to relocate to Pidurangala, and he, in turn, renovated it to better accommodate the new residents.

Temple Architecture

Though much of it is in ruin nowadays, the temple was once said to have consisted of five main buildings – a prominent stupa, chapter house, image house, bodhigara, preaching hall and an area for the monks to rest and retire. An impressive 12m long reclining Buddha statue still remains and will make for a fantastic sight as you hike your way up the mountain.



Journey to the Lion Rock, Sigiriya -A cornucopia of natural beauty

sigiriya rock fortress
Sigiriya rock fortress |  Photo by Poswiecie via Pixabay , CC0 Public Domain


Whether you are an adrenaline junkie looking to conquer great heights or an artist, inspired by the enigmas of time, the Lion Rock in Sigiriya will compel you to plan your next trip here. The Lion Rock is one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic places. The lush greenery and wildlife add to the revelry of what is rumoured to have been the country’s capital during the reign of King Kashyapa. And with the likes of Jetwing Vil Uyana just 5km away, one can expect but the best in luxury from a Sigiriya hotel.

The story of Sigiriya is one of political mastery. This story starts with a misguided prince Kashyapa killing his father, King Datusena for the throne. Anticipating retaliation from his brother’s camp, the young king built the capital of his kingdom nearly 200 metres above the ground. The top of the rock provides an uninhibited view from every direction. An approaching army would have had to use extreme stealth to avoid detection by the king’s guards.

Among other defensive measures were a moat around the rock and narrow flights of steps that restricted movement in groups. If one were to tackle all the hurdles, he/she would get to the main entrance of the castle; the majestic Lion structure, of which only the paws remain today. This was, of course, never achieved by the king’s enemies. It is said that the king realized the gravity of his mistakes and turned to Buddhism for salvation. He lived a long pious life and died a natural death, according to the Chulawamsa.

The Lion Rock was hence abandoned as a palace. Until the 14th century, the rock and the adjoining caves served as a Buddhist monastery. After around 1500, only the foundation of the large structure atop the rock remains. The ponds that supposed to have supplied water to the top of the rock still work their unimaginable feats of engineering. The world famous frescoes and the lesser known poem wall mesmerize many a visitor. The unrestricted view births poets from its bosom, on top of the Lion rock.

Fritzjames Stephen is a travel writer, who writes content based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life. Google+

Safari in Minneriya National Park -A journey to the centre of wildlife

Minneriya National Park is the prominent national park in Sri Lanka for elephant viewing. Centred around the giant Minneriya tank, elephants from the park, as well as from the adjoining Kaudulla National Park, make their way to the tank towards late afternoon to cool off. Thus, the best time to visit the Park would be during the dry season, when most of the life revolves around the tank, which becomes the sole source of water.

If you are familiar with the country, you could go to the entrance of the Park on your own and hire a jeep for the safari. However, it is easier to make this reservation through your hotel. Jetwing Vil Uyana, for example, offers safaris that are dedicated for their guests, which means you will have complete privacy – as much as you can have in an open jeep – as you observe Sri Lankan wildlife. The jeeps are designed to accommodate 6 to 8 people at once. There is a tarp covering the open back, which is often rolled away if the Sun is not too severe. There are benches or high seats at the back of the jeep for you to sit on. However, most visitors prefer to stand, holding on to the iron bars that run the length of the jeep, to get a better view of the surrounding. The ride is going to be quite bumpy, and you must heed the word of your driver who often acts as a guide. There are leopards in Minneriya National Park, although sightings are rare. It is only by paying close attention to your guide, that you will be able to reap the maximum benefit of the safari. They are often well-versed in English. However, if you are worried, you could inquire for an interpreter from a Sigiriya hotel. At the end of the day, there is not much that words can convey when you are sitting so close to an elephant munching on coconut fronds, that you could reach out and pat his back if you want to.

Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+

Nature Trails in Habarana

Lankarama Temple
Lankarama Temple | Image Courtesy : Orient Tours

Cushioned between Sri Lanka’s most prominent historical sites and exuberant nature, Habarana is a tiny town located in the Anuradhapura district. Its strategic location has made it a favourite among locals and tourists. Also, if you want to meet the royalty of Sri Lanka’s jungles – the elephant – Habarana is the ideal place for you. Habarana Village by Cinnamon is an eco-friendly Sigiriya hotel that has developed a lasting relationship with its surrounding nature. Such properties offer the ideal starting point to begin a nature trail.

Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park | Image Courtesy : Cinnamon Air 

Located in very close proximity to Habarana, the Minneriya National Park is a hotspot for elephant lovers. A knowledgeable guide and sporty jeep will take you on a mud strewn track, through a penetrable jungle. Wayward branches and tiny twigs fling tiny blows onto your face. However your eyes stay peeled to spot the undisputed kings and queens of the Sri Lankan wild.

Minneriya Tank
Minneriya Tank | Image Courtesy : Stranger Time

Soon, the waters of the Minneriya tank glisten in the distance and the horizon is speckled with grey dots. Slight movements are visible even from a distance and on a close observation, you will notice that these female elephants show great maternal care as they guide their calves to safety. In order to avoid disturbing the animals, your jeep will be parked a safe distance away from the herds.

Tusker in Minneriya National Park
Tusker in Minneriya National Park |Image Courtesy : The Hungry Grape

A close and rather scary encounter with a lone elephant must also be anticipated. You would be truly fortunate to spot this majestic being, spending some alone-time rummaging through the jungle. Maintain your calm and be as least intrusive as possible, and the King will loosen his defences.

Visit Habarana for adventures with nature!

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+

Sigiriya Water Gardens

The story of Sigiriya is a captivating one dating back to the fifth century. It begins with a prince who killed his father in a fit of rage and fled to Sigiriya. The prince, who went on to become King Kassapa, chose the top of a giant boulder as the location for his palace. The ‘palace in the sky’ was built in the form of a crouching lion. The fortress expanded into the lands surrounding the rock. Within its bounds, beautiful gardens were created. The king enjoyed a luxurious existence until the day his brother arrived with an army seeking vengeance for the murder of their father. King Kassapa took his own life after his army abandoned him and much of the magnificent palace was destroyed by the attackers.

The Sigiriya story is as much of a landmark in Sri Lankan history as the actual rock itself. The ruins of what was arguably one of the most impressive palaces ever built can still be seen today. The rock fortress is a historic attraction that continues to draw thousands of visitors from all over the world. Sigiriya hotel properties have been built in most part, simply to provide accommodation for visitors who come to admire this architectural marvel; Aliya Resort & Spa even offers views of the towering rock in the distance.

The palace on the rock is not the only feature worthy of mention, the gardens that are spread out at the foot of the rock are also fascinating. The lawns have been meticulously laid out with geometric precision. The water garden, located on the lowest level, is surrounded by walls; it boasts ponds and dancing fountains, complete with flowering water plants and birds. The fountains were designed to work on a highly complex hydraulic system. With heavy rainfall, the fountains gurgle to life even today. However, their sophisticated mechanism has not been completely unraveled by engineers of the present day. A more recent discovery, the miniature water garden, has intricately designed waterways that feed shallow reflecting pools.

Minneriya National Park

Located 182 km form Colombo in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province is the famed Minneriya National Park which ranks amongst the country’s leading natural reserves. This is why when staying at a Sigiriya hotel such as Aliya Resort & Spa, a journey to the park is almost inevitable. Considered by many as one of the most sought after ofresorts in Sri Lanka to head over to, one would be compelled to set out on a day’s trip to the Minneriya National Park.
Featuring wetlands, grasslands, scrublands and secondary forests that hold many a secret, the park is also known for its bird population which attracts nature lovers from far and beyond. Unveiled as a national park in 1997, the premises perhaps is best known for the ‘Gathering’ which takes place between the months of August and September and sees the largest group of Asian elephants arrive to feed, drink and frolic in and around the Minneriya Reservoir. Jeeps Safaris are the best ways in which to capture not jut elephants but sloth bears, sambar deer, saltwater crocodiles, Indian pythons and a host of bird species in their natural habitats. Since it is found in the dry zone of the country, plenty of refreshments must be taken before you embark on a trip to the wonderful Minneriya National Park.

Explore The Sigiriya Gardens- The ravishing beauty of one of the world’s oldest landscaped garden

continues to attract tourists with its rugged imposing exterior, the contrasting softness of surrounding greenery, the head turning beauty of its maidens and the galleries and murals that combine to give a sensational aesthetic experience.

The gardens of Sigiriya indeed are a fine tribute to the architects of the olden days. While the construction of the fortress itself on so high a rocky climb is indeed a matter of applause, the gardens constitute a more detailed insight into how far exactly the techniques of that era were developed. As one of the world’s oldest landscaped garden in the world, it is a scholar’s adventure trip and a photographer’s paradise. Even for the average tourist, the fine boundaries and neat contours of the ponds and pools and water drainage systems gives a sense of harmony without an oppressive feeling of being in a technical workshop. The serpentine waterways and reclining pools blend so well into the spacious of the garden as the unchartered winds ruffle through the plantation to roam in the green wilderness beyond and the birds that chirp among the clusters of bushes relieve the impeccable neatness with an unruly charm of their of their own.

The gardens indeed are three in type although they are clearly interlinked. While the water garden takes the centre of attention as the most intricately designed one, the other two, boulder garden as well as Terrace garden do not fall far behind. The largest garden is surrounded by water connected with causeways and is an island with a walled enclosure. In the fountain garden, marbled serpentine streams drain into the two large deep pools. The fountains in Sigiriya are indeed another cause for wonder as they operate even this day, and are fed by underground water channels and arise through the perforations in the limestone circular plates. The miniature water gardens adds to the picturesque beauty of the garden while the cooling palaces or water pavilions reminds a visitor of warm days spent here in reverie.

Sigiriya accommodation can be exotic as Sigiriya itself. Jetwing Vil Uyana takes you back in time to the olden days when Sigiriya was a kingdom and life in a village was simple and charming. The exotic clusters of villas appear like an ancient village with their coconut fringed roofs interconnected by foot paths and lanterns setting up their illuminations at night like scattered fire flies in the darkness. The villas are surrounded by lakes brimming with water lilies or marshy lands amongst where the lotuses bring out their fine petals or forrests that shrouds you in dark and unfathomable mysteriousness.

The wooden villas with their polished timber walls and floors with coconut shells on their tops appear rugged and primitive externally while their interior resemble a king’s abode. This famous Sigiriya hotel is more than a hotel. It offers a chance to live another life, in another day, with the primitive charms of an uncomplicated lifestyle closely mingling with nature while still enjoying the comforts of a modern hotel that you simply cannot do without.