On our second day in Sri Lanka we managed to pull ourselves out of our bunk beds at some 4am and trudge along a 15minute walk to the Colombo Central bus stand and catch the next bus that would take us to Sigiriya. With whatever possible communication we could manage, we got into a rickety local bus to Dambulla from where we were told to take the next bus to Sigiriya. The only peculiar thing you’ll notice about Sri Lanka is that apart from the usual vendors and hawkers, there are plenty of people selling and buying lottery tickets! It is some sort of craze that the entire nation is a part of and does not matter how little money you have in your pockets, you always have enough money to buy a lottery ticket! Anyway, after a 5 hour long bus ride we finally got dropped off at the Dambulla bus stop (which like other bus stops in most of Sri Lanka is just a designated spot on the road that you get off at). After a few minutes worth of waiting and a quick breakfast of vadais squeezed in, we got the next bus to Sigiriya, which took us another 1 hour or so to cover. The moment we got off at Sigiriya and set our eyes for the first time on the island mountain we knew we would have some amazing memories to take away! Quickly we became friends with a tuk-tuk driver (which is surprisingly easy if you’re an India, or so it seems), and he took us to a nearby home stay which would be our mecca for the day. We washed and left for the climb, which little did we know would test our fitness, grit and courage to quite an extent! The first few minutes is just walking around the fort gardens and enjoying the hilarious signboards that pock mark the area. Examples: we saw a sign board saying “Do Not Walk on the Grass” plonked right in a middle of an area of land that was dug up and strewn with hay! We saw another sign which said “Do Not Swim in the Water, Beware of Crocodiles”, definitely would have made sense if the moat had enough water! Anyway, we marched on and started climbing and gasping to breathe every few steps! The first point of attraction is the Mirror Wall and the spiral staircase dangling mid-air that you need to climb to reach this wall. While climbing the stairs you can see some of the supposedly more than 500 frescoes than adorn the western face of the fort. The Mirror Wall when built more than 1600 years ago was apparently polished so highly that the king could see his reflection in it! We climbed further to finally reach the bottom of the fort, the entrance flanked by a lion’s paws. There used to be a sculpted lion’s head on top as well, however that collapsed many years ago. Just standing there, so many feet above the ground and at the feet of a lion was an immensely humbling experience.  It turns out, we had reached right in the middle of a wasp-attack (yes, that apparently happens and is very common), so we had to put on these space-suit like well, suits which cover you head to toe, in that sweltering heat and climb up multiple flights of rickety stairs till you reach the fort on top. May have been an easier climb had my glasses not fogged up with every 5 steps! But then once you reach on top, the panoramic view makes you forget all the breathlessness you had to endure! Finally we came down (which was again a jaunting task for our old knees!) and headed to the Sigiriya Museum. The museum, which is superbly maintained, contains all tit-bits of information about the ancient city and of course it makes more logical sense to actually visit the museum before you climb, to fully appreciate the history you’ll be in the midst of! We spent the last few hours of the day being pampered by our hostess at the home stay and watching the sun set behind the spectacular Sigiriya mountain.  

On our second day in Sri Lanka we managed to pull ourselves out of our bunk beds at some 4am and trudge along a 15minute walk to the Colombo Central bus stand and catch the next bus that would take us to Sigiriya. With whatever possible communication we could manage, we got into a rickety local bus to Dambulla from where we were told to take the next bus to Sigiriya. The only peculiar thing you’ll notice about Sri Lanka is that apart from the usual vendors and hawkers, there are plenty of people selling and buying lottery tickets! It is some sort of craze that the entire nation is a part of and does not matter how little money you have in your pockets, you always have enough money to buy a lottery ticket! Anyway, after a 5 hour long bus ride we finally got dropped off at the Dambulla bus stop (which like other bus stops in most of Sri Lanka is just a designated spot on the road that you get off at). After a few minutes worth of waiting and a quick breakfast of vadais squeezed in, we got the next bus to Sigiriya, which took us another 1 hour or so to cover. The moment we got off at Sigiriya and set our eyes for the first time on the island mountain we knew we would have some amazing memories to take away! Quickly we became friends with a tuk-tuk driver (which is surprisingly easy if you’re an India, or so it seems), and he took us to a nearby home stay which would be our mecca for the day. We washed and left for the climb, which little did we know would test our fitness, grit and courage to quite an extent! The first few minutes is just walking around the fort gardens and enjoying the hilarious signboards that pock mark the area. Examples: we saw a sign board saying “Do Not Walk on the Grass” plonked right in a middle of an area of land that was dug up and strewn with hay! We saw another sign which said “Do Not Swim in the Water, Beware of Crocodiles”, definitely would have made sense if the moat had enough water! Anyway, we marched on and started climbing and gasping to breathe every few steps! The first point of attraction is the Mirror Wall and the spiral staircase dangling mid-air that you need to climb to reach this wall. While climbing the stairs you can see some of the supposedly more than 500 frescoes than adorn the western face of the fort. The Mirror Wall when built more than 1600 years ago was apparently polished so highly that the king could see his reflection in it! We climbed further to finally reach the bottom of the fort, the entrance flanked by a lion’s paws. There used to be a sculpted lion’s head on top as well, however that collapsed many years ago. Just standing there, so many feet above the ground and at the feet of a lion was an immensely humbling experience.  It turns out, we had reached right in the middle of a wasp-attack (yes, that apparently happens and is very common), so we had to put on these space-suit like well, suits which cover you head to toe, in that sweltering heat and climb up multiple flights of rickety stairs till you reach the fort on top. May have been an easier climb had my glasses not fogged up with every 5 steps! But then once you reach on top, the panoramic view makes you forget all the breathlessness you had to endure! Finally we came down (which was again a jaunting task for our old knees!) and headed to the Sigiriya Museum. The museum, which is superbly maintained, contains all tit-bits of information about the ancient city and of course it makes more logical sense to actually visit the museum before you climb, to fully appreciate the history you’ll be in the midst of! We spent the last few hours of the day being pampered by our hostess at the home stay and watching the sun set behind the spectacular Sigiriya mountain.  
By Masala Foie Gras madhurimukherjee05@gmail.com

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On our second day in Sri Lanka we managed to pull ourselves out of our bunk beds at some 4am and trudge along a 15minute walk to the Colombo Central bus stand and catch the next bus that would take us to Sigiriya. With whatever possible communication we could manage,...