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6th April 2004
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 Holiday | Programmes | 50
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Best time to go: Generally warm all year, except in the highlands. There are monsoons from May to July, and from December to January

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Craig Doyle
Sri Lanka's fortress of Sigiriya came in at number 41.

What images does the name Sri Lanka conjure up? Possibly lush tea plantations, and palm-fringed beaches, but the landmark that most piqued your imagination was the imposing rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Lost in scrub jungle and not rediscovered until the mid nineteenth century, Sigiriya is actually the ruins of a cloud-hugging palace built on the summit of a massive rock in the fifth century AD by King Kassapa who, having killed his own father, needed a safe hiding place. The 200 metre high granite rock would have seemed like an ideal choice.

The name Sigiriya means 'the lion�s rock' and originally the entrance was guarded by a gigantic stone lion who would have sat here as if emerging from his den.

All that remains now are his colossal paws, and you can now only imagine what an awesome sight the lion in his entirety would have been.

From the summit you can admire the magnificent view, and see the fields where Kassapa came to a sticky end. He decided to do battle with his half brother Moggallana, but having been abandoned by his army, beheaded himself, so as to avoid being captured alive.

Along with a rather gruesome history, which is perhaps as much legend as fact, King Kassapa has left a striking and unforgettable legacy in this spectacular mountain top citadel.

See our other report from Sri Lanka.


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Price: About £500 return to Colombo

Approx flight time: Colombo to London is 13 hours 45 minutes

  • Sigiriya is proof that graffiti is not a modern phenomena. The paintings of scantily clad maidens in the fresco gallery has been covered in graffiti inscribed mainly between the 7th and 11th centuries
  • the summit of the rock covers nearly three acres and would have been covered with buildings although only foundations remain today
  • the Water Gardens at the base of the rock are Asia�s oldest surviving landscape gardens
What's your holiday money worth?
"Hi, I'm thinking of doing the Sydney to Cairns trip and back again sometime next year. But it's on a budget, so I'm really looking for a bus company that you pay before travelling and just jump on and jump off it when you want. Something like a travel pass. If anyone can help I'd appreciate it! Ta!"

Can you help Wenny T?
See when your favourite Holiday programmes are next on TV.
Country Facts
Time difference
GMT = 6 hours ahead

Visa (with UK passport)
Issued on arrival for up to 30 days stay

Sri Lanka Embassy

Inoculations & health
Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B sometimes recommended

BBCi Health

Sri Lanka rupee
Check out the latest rates: use our currency converter

Sinhala, Tamil, English

BBCi Languages

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