Sunday, April 17, 2016

1202 steps

Breakfast at the hotel meant gorgeous views as the restaurant was at the top of the hotel. But our first view was that of one of the monkeys. We had been warned not to just close our balcony door but to lock it as the monkeys could open the door if it was not locked from the inside.
Morning views from the hotel restaurant. It is next to a lovely lake with mountains around.
This is a view of the lush landscape of Sril Lanka
We started early this morning as we had to climb to the top of Sigiriya. Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a capital built at the foot of and on top of a giant rock. The king and the court lived at ground level in the summer and on the top in the winter. There are 1202 steps in the rock to get to the top.
We started easy, looking at the bathing pools and water courses in the water garden.
We also got our first view of where we were headed. Remember this patch of brown walkway. You'll see it from various heights as we climb to give you a sense of perspective.
More wildlife... an iguana sunning itself on a rock
Sigiriya has murals painted on various rock surfaces. I can't show you the most beautiful ones as photography was prohibited there. But this is one that shows you some of the color.
The entrance archway. Now we climb.
Gently at first, with flat areas between the flights of steps.
This is where we are headed. Up those steps. The covered area is where the murals are. The cover keeps the sun off them.
A view from the area where those people are queued. Look for the brown walkway below.
This is the Lion's Terrace. About 2/3 of the way up. You can see the last sets of steps leading up
It is called the Lion's Terrace because of these awesome lion paws that bracket the stairs leading up to the top.
I got up to the top before my husband. While waiting for him, I saw a group of men trying to take a picture with all of them in it. They were taking turns at photographing the group. So I volunteered to take their picture. It turns out they were Air Force personnel from various countries who had come to Sri Lanka to take part in some military exercises. They had taken a day off to see Sigiriya. They insisted on taking a photo with me after I took their photo with various cameras. So somewhere out there, there is a photo of me with a bunch of Air Force personnel.
Finally at the top. The last two steps. The view of the brown walkway from the top. See how tiny it looks?
There is a huge complex at the top. Most of the buildings are gone. But the pools and terraces remain.

And then we come down. I am more afraid of coming down than going up but I managed by focusing just on the next step I had to take. On the Lion's Terrace level, there is a bee shelter. We were warned not to make too much noise on the way up or down because there are wild bees there and they will attack if they feel threatened. The shelter is meant to hide in if a wild bee attack occurs. Of course there is not enough space in it for everyone who is on the Terrace!
The sign is in Sinhalese, Tamil and English. Sri Lankans are mostly Buddhist Sinhalese but there is a large percentage of Hindu Tamils in the country. Some of that is due to proximity. India is a hop, skip and jump away, specifically the state of Tamil Nadu. But the British also brought Tamil workers to Sri Lanka to work the tea plantations. I'll talk more about this on another day.
Once off the Lion's Terrace, the way down was easy. It is one way so we came down a different way than we went up. Fewer steps, more gradients. We also passed some caves that were part of the residences.
Passed a litter of puppies with their mother near by.
This rock is called the Nag (Cobra)'s head. It is pretty obvious why.
The last arch.
We were done by lunch time and thank goodness. I wish we had left even earlier. It was extremely hot and humid as we climbed. I think even my jeans were soaked! We got back to the hotel and had a late lunch/snack meal. While we were eating, we saw that the heat made one of the hotel pools very attractive to non-human visitors.
Afternoon view of the lake. That is another of the hotel swimming pools down below.
The hotel is set into the side of a hill. Our room was on the 3rd floor but we had to go down from the entrance which was on the 5th floor. The restaurant where we ate breakfast was on the 6th floor. Our room is visible from this picture which I took on a walk in the early evening. We spent the afternoon baby-sitting our laundry on the balcony - protecting it from monkey mischief.
Sunset over the lake. We hung out at a place where we could see it and met other like-minded folk. Some were from Colombo, out on a long weekend. It was the weekend of Pongal - the Tamil harvest festival. Others were from China, also taking advantage of the long weekend. They were there to build irrigation and hydro-electric projects.

There was a flute player sitting on a rock on one of the levels and playing a beautiful melody.
And with that, we went in to dinner and an early night. We had another busy day to come.

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