I am not a climber. No. In fact I am not a sports woman by anyone’s definition. I took up Zumba a year ago but even with that, the shameful truth is that I do it more because at my age, it is a social taboo to be wiggling your curves in nightclubs to up tempo beats whereas in Zumba, it is very acceptable. Expected even. But by and large, I do a sedentary job and my hobbies, when not in foreign terrains, involve sitting in coffee shops, sitting in restaurants, sitting in parks, sitting at picnics and sitting at home with friends and family. So I approached this particular part of the trip with trepidation. I envisaged feeling faint, short of breath and being generally acopic. I pictured moaning a lot about the heat, the climb, the leg ache, the headache. Pumpkin was uncharacteristically gleeful – he loves an opportunity to climb and trek – I think he feels somewhat cheated by the restrictions imposed by the “rules of marriage;” He is not allowed to participate in life-threatening activities and I am not allowed to moan about the rain.
However, if UNESCO are impressed enough to name it a world heritage site, if 2 good friends of mine were so swept away by its beauty that they decided to get engaged at the top and as Pumpkin convinced me it is “only” 200m high, I got over my cowardice and rose to the summit. What a breathtaking climb it was. Namath, our driver, wisely told us that it was worth forfeiting our lie in to get there early before the sun really starts weighing you down and before the crowds start infiltrating. We were making the ascent by about 7.30am and it was temperate, peaceful and a very comfortable climb. The earthy brick red, grey and golden colours of the rock contrasted starkly with the lush green foliage visible from the aerial view. En route to the summit, you will spot the mirror wall with carefully preserved ancient frescoes. You can visit Sigiriya with or without a guide. We chose not to and were put off by being hounded persistently upon arrival despite several polite attempts to decline. We ferried ourselves around with a guidebook but without either an informative written source or a guide accompanying you, you would miss out on a lot of the culture and history to this beautiful site. It was a doable climb – even for me. Don’t miss this but do go early in the day.