I recently saw a news report where minister for cultural affairs making a speech after opening the ancient burial ground at Ibbankatuwa for visitors , why wasn’t it open to visitors all this time I am not too sure, in the speech he said , in the fierce competition to attract tourists we must innovate and find new ways for them to enjoy our places of interests with less inconveniences.
And the example he used to illustrate his point was installing an elevator at Sigiriya, for the use of visitors who are not able to climb Sigiriya because of physical disabilities.
This is a very good proposal, that , I am sure will become an attraction by itself adding color to climbing Sigiriya. Standing 660 ft tall, with only few companions , on an otherwise a large plateau, Sigiriya has been built by King Kashyappa(477-495 AD) as his castle and palace fearing an attack from his step brother who was the true heir to the throne, most likely because Kassayappas mother was a lesser queen.
Sigiriya has become one of the most significant tourist attractions in Srilanka and would probably be second only to our beaches if the merit of different types of attractions are valued and listed. Probably it is the main reason for Dambulla to recently to become preferred day destination compared to Kandy for tourists.
Back to the proposal for elevator, as I said earlier it is a very good idea and it should not be just discarded after the speech just acting as a attention seeker in the evening news, like many other proposals made by politicians in small public meetings.
Lets see the mechanics of the proposed elevator. Firstly, since there are many other heritage sites in the world that have elevators installed, we don’t have to worry about the wrath of UNESCO like that incident earlier in Galle fort. Then we should look at similar sites that have elevators. Most appropriate one is the Zhangjilagie in China, the
Bailong Elevator or Hundred Dragons Elevator is a glass elevator built onto the side of a huge cliff in the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area of Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area that is 335 m high. At the cost of 120 million yuan or $19 million, the elevator can take 48 passengers at once to the top, rated speed 3.0 m/s, a journey that takes 2 seconds shy of 2 minutes. After it was built, the lift was said to be the world's tallest full-exposure outdoor lift, tallest double-deck sightseeing elevator, and the fastest passenger elevator with the biggest capacity.
This elevator we can see is 1100 feet in height and Sigiriya is only 6/10th of that height and the cost of the project has been 19 million $.That’s 2850 million rupees. 60% of that would be 1710 million rupees. Also I would think that the cost of elevators would rise exponentially with height especially in dizzy heights like this. So the cost at Sigiriya would be considerably lower than 1710 million Rupees. Say 1.2 billion rupees. We also don’t need such a huge capacity, I think 20 capacity elevator should serve our purpose. That will slash the cost considerably.
Say well south of one billion rupees. And we know there are many private companies that can take up this challenge. The project will, I am sure, be a financially viable at that cost. More than the cost it will give a huge fillip to our tourism industry as a whole.