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Fri Mar 31, 2017, 10:53 PM

From Pidurangala to Sigiriya, ancient rocks and ruins reveal Sri Lankas past

From Pidurangala to Sigiriya, ancient rocks and ruins reveal Sri Lankaís past





CATHERINE BUSH
PIDURANGALA, SRI LANKA
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, MAR. 30, 2017 3:36PM EDT


In the central highlands of Sri Lanka, my driver makes a turn on to a small dirt road. Minutes later, he turns again at an unmarked opening in the trees. Moments after that, we find ourselves in a small forest clearing. Iíve arrived at Pidurangala, an ecolodge named for the giant rock that towers somewhere above us, the dense leaf cover rendering it invisible.

My lodgings for the next three nights will be a tree house Ė not a platform in the trees but a traditional, thatched-roof structure built out of slim trunks and open to the jungle. Huge boulders clasped by gnarled roots surround my airy two-storey abode. Monkeys hoot as they leap between branches. Iím told an elephant ambled past a day or so ago. Iím here to take in some of Sri Lankaís rich archeological heritage, which also means being prepared to do some climbing.

Not far off lies Sigiriya, the ruins of a palace and monastic complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site, atop an even more imposing rock than Pidurangala. Mist still clings to this extraordinary bulge in the landscape as we begin our approach just after dawn the next morning. At a distance, itís hard to imagine how weíll ever reach the flat summit.



The second level stairs and entrance to the former fortress and monastery of Sigiriya, guarded by a pair of lion paws.
PIUS99/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Geologically speaking, Sigiriya is what is known as a monadnock: a volcanic protruberance harder than the surrounding rock that eroded over eons, leaving this peculiar upthrust. We cross a moat and pass through what were once elaborate water gardens, constructed by a pleasure-seeking, usurping king in the fifth-century AD. To either side of us rise gargantuan boulders: The caves formed beneath them were used by Buddhist monks from as early as the third-century BC. Their drip ledges, a line carved in the rock to stop water dripping underneath, are still visible today.

More:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/travel/destinations/climbing-to-the-top-of-sri-lankas-ancienthistory/article34492476/

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