Sigiriya | Sri Lanka’s Abandoned Lion Rock Fortress

Sigiriya | Sri Lanka’s Abandoned Lion Rock Fortress

Yes, we have monkeys; a little bit of monkey business never hurt anybody. You’re watching Vagabrothers, and this is Sri Lanka. I’m Alex. I’m Marko. We’re the Vagabrothers, brothers, vagabonds, and your go-to guides for travel tips, inspiration, and vlogs on YouTube. In this series, we’re discovering the best of Sri Lanka: ancient cities, stunning nature, rich culture, and delicious food. Welcome back to Vagabrothers. In this video we’re exploring the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, some of the oldest and most important sites in the country, and we’re starting off with Sigiriya, the Lion Fortress, one of the most iconic places in Sri Lanka and the most likely to pop up in your Instagram feed. Sigiriya is an Unesco World Heritage site, one of eight here in Sri Lanka. But this, quite literally, towers above the rest. It’s a 200 meter or 650 foot tall rock cropping that dominates the entire landscape But at the top of it are mysterious ruins. No one is entirely sure why they were built.. So who built them? Why were they built and why were they so important? To find out we’re going to climb to the top. Let’s go. First impressions feels a lot like…. some of the Central American sites like…. Chichen itzá or Machu Picchu where you have these large kind of city structures/ urban planning but not a lot of actual buildings left, just kind of the foundations. I love places like this where it’s not really sure what the origin is. It kind of comes from that time of history where people have a mythical explanation. There’s also a historical explanation, and hopefully by the time we get the top figure out a bit more about this story. We just walk through the Royal Gardens. There’s all of these tanks, which are basically water collection ponds where they take the monsoon rain. They can be used for bathing or rituals, and there’s also a moat that we went by that has lotus flowers on top now, but historically has been full of crocodiles. One of the main questions people have about this place is: Was it a fortress? Was it something religious? Hopefully by the time we get to the top, we find out. We still have a lot of stairs. But what an impressive structure. Also there’s a lot of warnings for animals, including wasps All right, so now we are officially at the base of the rock fortress, but we’re in quite a long line. That’s one of the realities. At least we have monkeys to kind of distract us a little bit.. a little bit of monkey business. It never hurt anybody. If you have a fear of heights, this may not be the excursion for you. Or claustrophobia, really. Okay, so we just saw the frescoes. There used to be thousands. There’re only about 20 remaining now All the frescoes are of beautiful women. We, unfortunately, weren’t allowed to film there. We’re almost at the top. You can see why they call it the Lion Fortress because this is the lion gate. You have the two lion paws, and according to legend, or according to our archaeologist, there used to be a lion’s face on the top as well, but that’s been eroded from the elements. It’s amazing we just saw a group of extremely elderly ladies mobbing it up here, barefoot. Badass. Good job. We made it.. so hot, so high. But definitely worth it. This view is incredible. Made it.. an hour later, made it to the top. Now let’s talk about the different theories about this place. Number one is mythical It’s believed that it was the kingdom of Ravana, a very ancient king who captured Sita from India and got into a bunch of fights with a bunch of Indian gods in which he was eventually killed. Number two is that this was a monastery. There’s definite evidence that monks did live here up to 1500 years ago, but way more interesting and more fun story Is that of King Kassapa. He asked his father, who was the king while he was a prince, I want to be king. Daddy said,” no.” So King Kassapa killed his father by burying him alive in a wall. Some serious Edgar Allan Poe stuff right there. Then fearing retribution from his brother, he fled; he built this fortress. He brought 500 concubines because when you’re king, why have five, why have one when you can have 500? He brought 5,000 troops with him, held down the fort until his half-brother came, invaded, and conquered his army leaving the king to commit suicide. A sad ending for a tragic, yet very interesting story. And then last but not least, number four: aliens There is that theory, it’s just kind of a joke. But it is pretty incredible to see that there’s basically four acres or two hectares of buildings here. They were abandoned around the 12th century. No one’s really sure why. One theory is potentially mosquitoes and some sort of disease that killed off people, but the place was abandoned for almost 1000 years until like we said it was discovered about a hundred years ago by the British And all these theories have still yet to be fully confirmed. Interesting fact, though. They believe, scientists believe that water, because we’re at the top of a rock, there is no water up here, but they figured out a way to use wind to bring the water up from 650 feet below us. But for me the fact that we’re on this giant rock monolith in the middle of a completely flat plain, there are mountains around us, but they’re very far off in the distance. This rock just feels like it was just dropped right into the middle of this plain. It is a really cool spot, and it does remind you of a couple other places. I mean the lion aspect makes you think of the Sphinx from Egypt. The location here.. how it just sticks up from the jungle.. is like Cobá in the Yucatan, Peninsula And it does remind you of Machu Picchu, especially the story of the discovery and all these terraces on a very remote place. Whether it was a monastery or a kingdom or a place of myth, you can see how it could fit any of those places. And maybe it was really all of those places in one. I think it’s interesting that the king killed his father. He stayed here. And even though he had this peaceful spot, he was obviously wracked by guilt. It was kind of like story of Prince Hamlet. I mean he committed the crime; he took power, but then he really couldn’t get rid of his guilt. So apparently that’s why he got these frescoes painted down below which had 500 pictures of beautiful women. This was supposed to comfort him when he was feeling down and guilty for killing his dad. You know, probably should have. Now we’re going to go back to the place where this king originally lived, the ancient city of Anuradhapura We’ve driven a few hours north to Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was the first capital of Sri Lanka. It plays a central role in the story of this island. Sri Lanka was founded in the 5th century BC by Indo-Aryans from Northern India. According to legend, they were led by an exiled Indian prince who arrived here on the same day that the Buddha gained enlightenment. Within a century of their arrival, they founded this city, which grew into a kingdom that became the political, economic, and cultural heart of the island for over a thousand years. Anuradhapura grew into one of the most important cities of the ancient world and one of the longest continuously inhabited cities on earth. And that golden age was sparked by a visitor with a very important message, the message of the Buddha This bell-shaped building is a stupa, known locally as a dagobah. But this dagobah is extremely important because it houses the remains of the Lord Buddha himself. That’s because when the Buddha passed, his remains were divided into eight parts and sent to kingdoms across Asia, including Sri Lanka. Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka through an unlikely candidate, a bloodthirsty and power-hungry king from India named Ashoka who upon conquering all his enemies on the battlefield felt unfulfilled. He saw a monk walking through the ruins of the battlefield and realized that he lacked what the monk had… spiritual fulfillment. He converted to Buddhism and dedicated his life to spreading the faith. His son Mahinda arrived here in Sri Lanka and converted the royal family to Buddhism and his daughter came carrying a bow of the Bodhi tree where the Buddha gained enlightenment She planted it here, and it remains the oldest tree planted by a human on earth. This is pretty incredible. We’re underneath a 2500 year old Bodhi tree that was planted from a branch under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. This is a very special place. It’s a very spiritual place. There are people sitting in meditation and concentration, making offerings to the Buddha. But underneath a tree that’s over 2000 years old….. that’s a pretty mind-boggling statistic. 2,000 years ago is when Jesus was born, but this is even older than that. It has been quite an incredible day exploring the cultural legacy of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. I think that I always had this image of what I thought this place would be like . But coming here, experiencing it for myself and ending it here in Anuradhapura has just been such an eye-opening experience, especially watching the procession of worshippers coming in to the stupa and paying their respects to the Lord Buddha This is just a really interesting part of the world because the history here goes back so long. It could be kind of hard to understand it all, for us try to know it well enough to summarize it for all you guys watching on YouTube. But if you are able to wrap your brain around it and listen and pay attention and pay respect to the culture I think you’re really rewarded. This is a beautiful place. This city is gigantic. There are stupas everywhere and It’s kind of really beautiful to see the aesthetic. It’s very very minimal. There’s no ornamentation. It’s very austere, and I think that really speaks to the message of the Buddha. Going further back going to Sigiriya, which was way more touristy – an incredible sight in its own right, but full of people from around the world. But then ending it here where quite literally I didn’t see one other foreigner this entire afternoon. No, more like worshippers coming here. There are people here, but they’re coming here to pay respect to the temples because there’re such holy places and there’re some of the holiest places on the island. And if you do come to Sri Lanka, we highly recommend that you visit this city. There’re eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today we knocked out two, and eight is quite a lot for 22 million people. I think that there’s a lot of culture here in Sri Lanka and that’s what we explored today. If you guys enjoyed this video, make sure you give it a thumbs- up; subscribe to Vagabrothers so you get the rest of this series, get to know all of our other travel tips videos, and share this video with your travel buddies. As always remember: stay curious, keep exploring, and we will see you on the road. Peace.

100 thoughts on “Sigiriya | Sri Lanka’s Abandoned Lion Rock Fortress

  1. 6:55 anyone else noticed the guy randomly dancing in the background?

  2. 6:56 that guy dancing in the background


  4. Your videos are great…I can see these places without having to crap over a hole in the ground day in day out.

  5. We must appreciated and give you the credit that you are doing a good research on every where you visit. Regarding Sigiriya, new history is coming up. It was ever closed so far. Today's Historians has found some evidences to prove a new history about this. Yes, King Ravana, King Kashyapa is most believed two histories we have. Well other two I am not much sure. So far, we learned in the schools that King Kashyapa built this. But gradually things are coming up (from hidden), that this was one of the best used places by King Ravana. "Maya" is the person who designed this. And, surprisingly, There is a 7 story castle INSIDE THE ROCK!…. Await.. until proofs near future! Thanks again!

  6. Wow! Loved the video very informative. What a beautiful place ❀️

  7. Respect you sir.

  8. Amazing guys..I am a Sri Lankan myself and it makes me so proud of my own roots when you guys speak about it with so much respect and passion..

  9. I love that your doing these videos on Sri Lanka! I for one have climbed sigiriya rock and it just breath taking and unbelievable. I am so proud to call myself an American Sri Lankan woman and share my experiences and culture with other people! And these videos are just really taking me back and i love that you guys are learning and spreading he culture as well !

  10. Thanks so much for your research about the history and your great expectations. It could be a heaps of film roll Without your amazing explanation . Love your videos

  11. beautiful sri lanka…

  12. I want a travel to sri lanaka

  13. Sigiria was done by Kashyapa and held the Kingdom till his brother who ran away earlier came back with a force and siege the city. Then after all Kashyapa took his own life feeling the burden of his actions before his brother. There were monks living there "after" this period. Also that Indian god story is a fabrication of Indians to make Sri Lankan culture into a joke. Silly stories like Rawana doesn't really belong to Sri Lanka at all.

  14. β€πŸ‘Œ

  15. Thank you for your video. And also for being respectful to the culture in Sri Lanka. I thought you did lot of research before you spoke, unlike some videos I have seen. Thank you gentlemen. Great work

  16. Im so greatful to you guys the way you show the true value of sri lanka to the world. Also offering flowers was interesting in the video. I'm exited to watch more video

  17. You guyz have done the best videos about Sri Lanka I have seen in youtube so far. You guyz are truly amazing. And I really like the fact you chose to visit Anuradhapura, which is the holiest and the most significant city to buddhist people in Sri Lanka. But there are few facts you shared that I need to bring your attention to
    1 . When speaking about the frescos you were passing a yellow colour wall, which you completely ignored. That wall is called the mirror wall. Because the inner side was polished like a mirror so that the paintings of apsaras on the rock reflected on it. And later when the palace on top of the rock was abandoned local people visited to see the apsara frescos and wrote poems on that wall. And while only the foundation of the palace buildings are remaining, this wall is the only structure to remain in its' original form without falling down for nearly 2000 years.
    2. Sri Lanka was never found by Indo Aryans. When prince Vijaya came to SL there were already 4 tribes inhabiting the island called the Yakka, Deva, Naga and Raksha (Yakksha being the dominant tribe) and with the help of a Yakka princes called Kuweni he murdered most of the Yakka tribe and capture SL and It took decades for the natives and the Aryans to come to peace.
    3. Legend says Prince Vijaya came on the day Lord Buddha passed away not on the day He gained enlightenment.
    4. I think it would have been more nice if you had used Sri Lankan music for your background music without using Indian music, like all other vloggers do.

  18. 6:50 did anyone notice the guy who is dancing

  19. hi can i know if you guys got the silver button from youtube ? thanks

  20. Hi Guys
    I'd like to know the music name on 7:55 is so peaceful

  21. This is awesome guys!!!.. Anuradhapura, the anicient city is less touristy and most of the tourists does not know much about this city or may be skip this city while travelling here. Thank you for revealing more about this city in your vlog!!! hats off!!!

  22. by the way that old lady said, "I did it ! did you see?"

  23. Silent peacfull city…..

  24. I was born in Anuradhapura, there are thousands of places you can visit most of the places are older than 2000years but still not very popular among tourists

  25. Nice job on getting the facts righttt πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ½

  26. I subscribed you now due to detail explanation of the Visit what you have done in all the places you visited in my loving nation ❀️

  27. U guys are awesome.. thanks for the lovely srilankan updates..miss my country allot…

  28. it's literally better then Natanial geography, I'm thoroughly impressed guys, I could see hundred other bloggers, but it's day and night difference between you guys and the rest, you guys are knowledgable, respectful for local culture & customs, this is how blogging should be done, kudos

  29. Its great to see that you have done a lot of homework .. Keep up the good work Marko and Alex .. Cheers.

  30. Watch this also. The Mysterious King Kashyapa's Kindom, SIGIRIYA

  31. Excellent video..Sri Lanka was not found by Indian or Vijaya. he is just only visited to srilanka , &

    We have 4000 years back RAWANA history as well.

  32. You guys missed the adjacent rock "pidurangala"

  33. Why did you underplayed the Ravana story and highlighted on a silly exiled king was able to make such architectural marvel if he wud have been this much capable why he got exiled in the first place….

  34. Great job guys.

  35. I hope you should come to Sri Lanka for at least 1 time. because you will see the amazing creatures of nature and ancient Buddhist cultures. when you see all of these, it will change your whole life. Sri Lanka is a spiritual country which already combined with nature.

  36. Thank you so much Vegabrothers for posting informative videos about Sri Lanka. As a proud Sri Lankan I respect your service to promote tourism in Sri Lanka. Hope to meet you if you come again to my country.

  37. That guy in the back got some moves 7:00

  38. Have they ever drained the pit all the way?

  39. wow

  40. whats with the Indian background music

  41. Proud to be a srilankan ❀❀❀

    Brother's this is my Home town

  42. Sigiriya (lion rock) palace of King Ravana ,,v brothers thank you for bringing this video

  43. More about Sigiriya,

  44. superb guys.. Thanks for visiting and remarkable explanations..

  45. another thing.. Buddha was not from India.. Born and lived in Sri Lanka

  46. The definitive knowledge

  47. Sigiriya

  48. aweeesooome

  49. Hi ! what is the Software used to edit these clips ? Thanks =)

  50. Who is that guy dancing in the background? 6:51

  51. Can you guys tell a travel plan as in what city to what city? Planing a trip in june and entering the country in Colombo.

  52. Great video..What is the name and source of the audio at 8.00 mins?

  53. what's the tiltle of the song?? when they're showing this white building, Stupa?

  54. I'll be going Sri Lanka at the end of the year and i was wondering do you have to allow a whole day to see the Sigiriya Fortress or is a half day trip?
    thank you and keep up the good work xx

  55. My home town ❀️❀️❀️
    Best video .. awesome

  56. did anyone see that dude dancing in the background at 6:57

  57. You deserve more views. Your videos are great and very educational as well. I love the way you focus on the trip and the historical background of these wonderful places. A a Buddhist I really admire your respect for our religion.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  58. that's not the oldest tree….there are trees in India that are over 5,000 years old

  59. Don't understand why there is no commentΒ on Portuguese colony !

  60. sigiriya was raavan' s palace

  61. Breathtaking views!

  62. Who is here after sri Lanka's deadliest terror attack….RIP the people died….

  63. Guilt is not an emotion of the gods

  64. ❀❀❀

  65. πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’– sl

  66. Background music is really soothing.

  67. Love from Sri Lanka πŸ‡±πŸ‡° ❀️

  68. they are definetly not lion paws …..its garuda talons……and its not a fuckin monestry.

    this place is older than our expectation.

  69. On the way go to top it’s safe???

  70. Human history is far older than what we are told

  71. Thank you for the beautiful videos of Sri Lanka. I found yours by chance when I started looking for Sri Lanka travel vlogs as I am so homesick right now after the tragic events in my motherland…Truly appreciateΒ the in depth research that you share and most of all for being so respectful and sensitive to the culture and of course for the gorgeous aerial views that are simply breathtaking…

  72. 6:56 background πŸ˜‚

  73. This rock is ravans aerodrome where he used to land his pushpak ( his airplane)

  74. Discover by BritishπŸ˜†πŸ˜œ,u mean first British turists come to Sri lanka 100 years ago.

  75. Those are not lion paws, but bird

  76. Thank you guys..everything in this vlog is perfect ..even our history everything is correct ….you guys respected the buddhism and our culture guys are great..come again πŸ‡±πŸ‡° ❀️

  77. They weren't called aliens at that time ,they were called giants

  78. The biggest ocean polluting country on the globe !!!!!!

  79. Sri Lanka will always be in my heart! lets help promote their tourism! our driver from our tour when i was vlogging there, told me that the tourism industry right now is suffering sfter the bombing incident! LETS PROMOTE AND HELP BUILD IT UP AGAIN! #PRAYFORSRILANKA

  80. Little bit past Anuradhapura is another ancient kingdom worthy of seeing, it's called Polonnaruwa.. a must see city…Even a Disney documantary movie was filmed there couple of years back… My spiritual journey in Asia took me to that amazing place.

  81. Please re-read Hamlet. KXTHX

  82. Appreciate, you guys truly respect to our culture, religion and history. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ‡±πŸ‡°πŸ‡±πŸ‡°πŸ™πŸ™πŸ‘πŸ’―

  83. A real hidden gem. Truly amazing. Trying to convince my wife to go there next as we speak!

  84. Excellent video, many stories but one destination # Sri Lanka

  85. We're srilanka and proud to be a srilankan


  87. Haha you retards try reading Hindu scriptures u will get all answers, o wait a min ur forefathers v destroyed most of them

  88. Thanks for boosting sri lanka tourism 🍺

  89. wow super likes

  90. Wow… So beautiful video πŸ’ πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸŒΉπŸŒΉπŸŒΉπŸŒΉπŸŒΉ thank u visit our country. go head we are always with you. Weldon.

  91. the monkey's are the guardians since time .

  92. 6:57, a guy dancing in the background…he doesnt look tired after climbing all the way up there….πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

  93. semma semma episode🀘 vagabrothers πŸ‘¦πŸ‘¦ur r rock πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ

  94. Thanks a lot for promoting our country, Sri Lanka.!!!

  95. U guys are really awesome
    Nice, hard work u do always
    And background music is awesome too

  96. Those water gardens you just passed is the first line of defence at Sigiriya. It can be filled with water in an instance in case of an invasion.
    The water gardens will eventually be flown by crocodiles which makes an invasion difficult.
    There's a detailed explanation about this in 'Phenomenal travel videos' channel

  97. Sri lanka is one of the best country for travel 😍😍😍😍 proud to be a sri lankan

  98. Thanks for the visit and the video..however please take a note Sri Lankan history come from 30000 yers old.. we have found humans body parts and carbon exams confirmed its old 30000 yers .. so the story is people cane from India and then Sri Lankan civilisation start … NO!!! The people who came it was outcast criminals who throw them from India.. Sinhalese are Sri Lankan’s that come from fat roots !!

  99. You all are very much well come and appreciate your exploration of srilanka. But I have to say that I regret your word heading "Abandoned"

  100. Very informative guys…Keep exploring and share the knowledge. I, being a Srilankan, am very proud of my country. There is a lot more to learn about this beautiful island, if one is really interested.

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