Sigiriya Palace is a day trip from Dambulla and a fascinating site. On arrival, I was somewhat take aback by the ticket price ($25) which is not only the amount of my daily budget on this trip for everything – hotel, food, tickets, travel, etc, but also, I think, more than I’ve paid for any tourist site, anywhere in the world. After that little shock though, the day itself was great fun and fascinating. The Palace is built on a steep hill which rises out of the surrounding plains like some sort of Sri Lankan "Ayers Rock". You approach it through what used to be water gardens, temple buildings carved from huge boulders and small caves. These are all ruins now, but it’s easy enough to imagine what it was once like. Then up a series of steps, viewing ancient, but extremely well-preserved, frescoes on the way. The halfway point is at the bottom of the photo. Climbing these next steps involves passing to half a dozen large hornet nests [middle left black dots in photo]. As I arrived, other tourists were rushing into a heavily netted shed, as there were rumours that the hornets were about to swarm. I waited a few minutes, but really quite fancied climbing the steps by myself, so set off before the cowering crowds re-emerged! Arriving unstung at the top of the rock I explored the remains of an enormous palace (or possibly temple – no one is quite sure) and enjoyed the great views. It was very windy but a nice way to cool off after the hot and tiring ascent. Then it was time to face the hornets again…!
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