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How to explore Sigiriya and Habarana in Sri Lanka

A quick guide for rewarding escapes

By Sewmini James Published 3 months ago 4 min read
How to explore Sigiriya and Habarana in Sri Lanka
Photo by Dragon Hunter on Unsplash

The archaeologically rich regions of Sri Lanka’s north central plains are a treasure trove of wonder and serve up countless opportunities to discover its raw, natural beauty. Outlined below is how you can access two of its popular sections, namely Sigiriya and Habarana the next time you decide to head over to Sri Lanka.


From the majestic setting of the Lion Rock which is called Sigiriya: the fortress that once served as King Kashyapa’s palace and residence, the nature reserves of Minneriya and Kaudulla which arrive teeming with many a species to behold to the Dambulla Cave Temple which doubles up as a pilgrimage site and tourist attraction; one will have plenty of pastimes to engage in and experiences that will have you drawing closer to the rich legacy which is very much represented across these regions.

Where should you stay?

Ideally speaking, opting for a form of lodging that will have you within a stone’s throw of the tourist landmarks that dominate Sigiriya and Habarana would be a wise practice. In this sense, it is best to research what would be a perfect fit for you while factoring in your budget and the type of vacation that you intend on having. For example, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana will serve as a sound base from where one may look forward to enjoying a cross-section of things to do in Habarana. As guests, one can expect attentive service and advice with respect to calling by the sights and sounds that have made Sigiriya and Habarana truly worthwhile outings.

How can you spend your time?

One word: variety! It is a given that you make the most of your holiday to Sri Lanka and especially when in sections of the country that warrant plenty of time and attention. Once settled down at your choice of accommodation, you can unleash the keen explorer in you allowing your senses to take in the unique aura that descends over both Sigiriya and Habarana. Worthy of a few hours off your itinerary would be to call by the charming site of Sigiriya. Rising to an astonishing 200 meters in the air, this fortress complete with tinges of vegetation at its summit was the brainchild of King Kashyapa. Considered a sheer mark of engineering ingenuity and architectural prowess, Sigirya boasts of a maze of landscaped gardens that have been carefully preserved for the benefit of present-day generations. As you tread past the outer moat and via the water gardens that feature four pools, you will arrive at the boulder gardens which were believed to have been utilised for monastic practices that go back to the 1st century BC. Ascend the 1,200 steps that culminate at its summit but en route, you will be able to witness the famed Sigirya Frescoes which are a collection of murals depicting the maidens who served in the great king’s court. Once atop, the traveller in you will be greeted by remnants of the palace inclusive of the throne and sweeping vistas of dense forestlands that stretch out for miles on end. Across from Sigiriya is the picturesque, sloping rock plateau referred to as Pidurangala which was where the monks of the former sought refuge after plans were put in place to engineer the kingdom of King Kashyapa. While evidence of a temple can be found at its base, avid hikers will find the trail leading up to Pidurangala well worth the effort. Heading out just as the day dawns is recommended for the sunrise over Pidurangala is known as one of its major talking points. Also, ensure that you go on a jeep safari to the reserves of Minneriya and Kaudulla before your time here draws to a close. In the case of the former, you will be able to delight in a vast amount of species including deer and langur monkeys that call the Minneriya National Park home. However, these lush environs are best known for their elephant population and especially, ‘The Gathering’ which has been dubbed the largest meeting point of elephants in the world which occurs by the waters of the Minneriya Reservoir during August. Also, Kaudulla National Park found 22km north of Habarana can be journeyed to should you want more sightings of elephants and magnificent grasslands. Before you leave, visit the sacred Dambulla Cave Temple which houses several fascinating features. As you approach the entrance, a stunning statue of the Buddha hewn out of solid gold will greet you before you are led on towards 5 caves that sure do enhance the appeal of the Complex. Replete with paintings, sculptures and fragrant incense, this attraction brings to light the life and times of the Buddha in one awe-inspiring display.

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