Sigiriya

This dramatic granite outcrop lies at the heart of Sri Lanka, a huge monolith rising abruptly 180m high from the jungle canopy, a striking sight of great historic significance due to the 5th-century fortress dating from the reign of Kashyapa (477–495AD) sitting pretty on the flat-topped summit.

King Kashyapa was a renowned aesthete and a patron of the arts and architecture. The restored moat and water gardens at the ground level are delightful, as is the impressive ‘Lion Gate’ from where a flight of rock-cut steps leads steeply uphill, to the murals of the bare breasted Apsaras (heavenly maidens). It is believed that these remains are a fragment of a band, which may have held up to 500 such figures.

The steps also lead to the mirror wall before continuing all the way up to the summit.

For most visitors, this is Sri Lanka’s top cultural attraction. Climbing to the top is hard work, but the spectacular views and historic remains of landscaped water gardens, royal apartments and ramparts make it an effort most worthwhile.

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Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)