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13 May 2014

A Bird’s Eye View of the Rock Fortress with Cinnamon Air

aerial-view-of-sigiriya-rock-fortress

It is a beautiful day as the Cinnamon Air Cessna 208B prepares for take off. Captain Sampath and his co-pilot Rajiv are doing their pre-departure checks on the runway. Along with the other passengers, I walk across from the quaint Cinnamon Air lounge located at the far end of the Bandaranaike International Airport. We settle down inside this comfortable 8-seater aircraft and buckle up.

The flight to Sigiriya is short yet the sights along the way are stunning. Blue clear skies contrast with the lush greenery down below. The murky waters of the majestic Mahaweli River glistens as it snakes its way across this resplendent land below. Roadways divide geometric rice fields and sprawling coconut and tea estates. We fly over small villages and big towns and race ahead of congested traffic jams below.

Captain Sampath points to the left and there, against a rocky outcrop is the famed Dambulla Rock Temple. A couple of minutes later, the Cessna dips to the right and standing tall and proud, is the Rock Fortress. The sight from above is awesome and Captain Sampath circles the massive rock a couple of times giving us ample photo opportunities.

The nose dips lower and we approach the landing strip of the Air Force base and the Cessna makes a smooth landing. We clamber down and I am driven to the bottom of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress where I spend the next three hours enjoying the climb, the views and the fascinating legends of King Kasypa and his battles.
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At 1700 hours, we are back at the Base. Whilst a quick pre departure check is being carried out, I wander around the airfield catching some last minute photos and exchanging experiences with the new passengers. Soon we are on our way back to Colombo but not before the Cessna circles the rock a couple of times again before we head back home.

It’s been a wonderful day, full of memories of unbelievable sights. The advantages to flying is the option of getting to the destination in double quick time and making the most of precious time. And of course, seeing this magnificent Rock Fortress from above. Absolutely stunning!

- by Mihiri Wikramanayake

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