The base of the Sigiriya rock is a beautifully landscaped area dotted with formal water features, terraced gardens and natural boulders that were once home to numerous Buddhist shrines. It’s a beautiful place to explore away from the crowds.
From the main entrance you pass a series of symmetrical water gardens, which extend to the foot of the rock and include bathing pools, little islands with pavilions that were used as dry-season palaces, and landscaped borders.
A series of steps continues up through terraced gardens to the western face of the rock, and then ascends it steeply.
The charming boulder gardens, closer to the rock itself and best seen on the descent from the rock, feature boulders that once formed the bases of monastery buildings. The step-like depressions in the sides of the boulders were the foundations of brick walls and timber columns. The cistern and audience-hall rocks are impressive, and the entire area is fun to explore.