Sigiriya, Village safari & Minneriya National Park
Sri Lanka day 2
Such an amazing day today. It started really early, leaving our guest house at 5.30! This was so that we arrived at Sigiriya Rock while it was still cool, as it is quite a climb to the summit. The ancient citadel of Sigiriya (Lion Rock) sits atop a giant gneiss rock, rising about 650 ft above the surrounding land. There are conflicting theories about the origins of Sigiriya, but the widely held one is that King Kasyapa killed his father King Dhatusena, in AD477 to inherit the throne. Fearing retribution from his half brother, Mogallana, Kasyapa built an impregnable palace-fortress on the summit of the rock between AD 477 and 485. The ruins were first discovered by British archaeologists in the early 20th century, and excavations have continued here ever since. One of the highlights of the visit are some beautiful frescoes (photographs not allowed) that can be seen in a sheltered gallery in the western rock face, which you reach via a spiral staircase. The top right image in my collage shows the base of the staircase leading to the final ascent to the summit. At one time a colossal brick lion guarded the stairway - all that remains today is the massive paws, nonetheless quite impressive. On and around the terrace at the foot of the stairs the monkeys were gathering, hoping no doubt for some hand-outs from tourists. The summit would once have been covered with buildings - today just the foundations remain - and a wonderful view all around. We had our breakfast, supplied by our guest house, at the top, trying to ward off the numerous stray dogs! We had a bit of further excitement on the way down, as a swarm of hornets flew over. We had seen the signs warning of hornets on the way up, and as we were coming down, several people called out to crouch down and keep quiet, which everyone did, and fortunately the swarm flew over!!
From Sigiriya, we drove on a little way , then went on a “villlage safari”. We were taken first by bullock cart (shown in collage) - not very comfortable -down a rutted track to a Lake. Then we were taken by wooden boat across the lake to a village, where in a traditional palm branch roofed hut, a lady prepared a delicious traditional meal in front of us. When it came time to eat, there no knives or forks - you just used your fingers - a little messy! Afterwards, she demonstrated how they plait the palm branches to form the roofs of the huts. We were then taken by tuk tuk back to our vehicle. Altogether it was a fascinating experience.
The culminating experience for the day was a Jeep safari late afternoon into Minneriya National Park, where we saw literally hundreds of elephants, as well as water buffalo and quite a bit of bird life, including the eagle shown in my collage - a fantastic experience.
Then it was back to our accommodation, and dinner out at the same restaurant as last night.
One year ago: Organ concert