Sigiriya

Sometimes known as the 8th Wonder of the world Sigiriya is a unbelievable structure built with bedrock. The rock itself is a magnificent structure but inside this amazing rock you can see many wondrous paintings and carvings. On your way up in the climb to get to the top of the rock you can see frescoes with amazing painting and some

Sigiriya –The Fortress Palace

This rock fortress was built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century A.D. and was a royal citadel for more than 18 years. It is a complex of buildings, part royal place, and part fortified town, and water gardens on par with the best in the ancient world, constitute a magnificent and unique architectural feat of the ancient Sinhalese. In a sheltered pocket approached by a spiral stairway are the famous Sigiriya frescoes, the earliest surviving pictorial art of Sri Lanka The summit of the rock with an area of nearly one hectare was the site of the palace. It is regarded as the 8th wonder of the ancient Sri Lanka.

The Sigiriya complex is considered one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning; The fortress is outlined with a web of gardens, tanks and structures. The canal built round the fortress.

Sigiriya Rock
Sigiriya Pond

Kashyapa the Rebel King

The history rveals that King Kashyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. Kashyapa murdered his father by walling him up alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his half-brother Moggallana, Dhatusena’s son by the true queen. Moggallana fled to India to escape being assassinated by Kashyapa, but vowed revenge. In India he raised an army with the intention of returning and retaking the throne of Sri Lanka, which he considered to be rightfully his. Expecting the inevitable return of Moggallana, Kashyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress as well as a pleasure palace. Moggallana finally arrived, declared war, and defeated Kashyapa in 495 CE. During the battle Kashyapa’s armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sword.

As the legend goes, King Dhatusena the father was overthrown and walled in, alive by his son Kashyapa in 473 AD. Mogallana, Dhatusena’s other son Kashyapas step brother son by the true queen fled to India, vowing revenge. Fearing his brother, Kashyapa built this fortress at Sigiriya for him to live in fearing his half-brothers vengeance.

Moggallana finally arrived in 491 declared war, and defeated Kashyapa in 495 CE. During the battle Kashyapa’s armies abandoned him and he being too proud to surrender committed suicide with his own dagger. Sigiriya later became a monastic refuge, but eventually fell into disrepair.

Sigiriya 3
Sigiriya Summit

The beautifully landscaped gardens are divided into different sections

Water Gardens

Water Gardens contain a complex underground water distribution system. The network provides water to the Royal baths, the fountains water ponds. Some fountains still work during the rainy season.

The Boulder Gardens

The boulder gardens consist of several large boulders placed in locations linked by winding pathways. Most of these boulders had a building or pavilion built on them. They were used to be pushed off from the top to attack enemies when they approached.

The Terrace Garden

The Terraced Garden is a stepped garden that rises from the boulder garden. The terraced garden is designed in a rough circular formation around the rock.

Frescoes – The Sigiriya Damsels

There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, Today there are about 22 frescos in existence some of them in very good condition. The paintings in Sigiriya would have covered most of the western face of the rock. The true identity of the ladies in these paintings still have not been confirmed. There are various views about their identity.

 

The Mirror Wall with Graffiti

Between the spiral staircase and the fresco gallery, the pathway passes a narrow ledge which is protected by a 3m high wall. This wall was coated with a mirror-smooth glaze. Over the years visitors (over 1000 years ago) noted their impressions of the Sigiriya fortress and the paintings on the wall The graffiti was mostly inscribed between the 7th and 11th Century AD. 685 of them have been deciphered and published. The graffiti are a great source for the scholars to study the development of the Sinhala language and script.

 

Lion Platform

The Northern end of the rock the pathway leads to a platform, from which the rock derives its name Sigiriya (the Lion Rock). At one time a gigantic brick lion sat at the end of the rock, and the final ascent to the summit was between the lions paws and into its mouth! Today the lion has disappeared, only the paws and the first steps are visible.

 

The Summit

Covering an area of around 1.6 hectares, the remains of the foundations on the summit shows that the summit would have been covered with buildings. The design, layout and magnificent views that it still enjoys to this day, suggest Sigiriya would have been more of a royal palace of pleasure than a fortress. A pond scooped out of solid rock measuring 27m x 21m, A smooth slab of flat stone, often referred to as the kings stone throne, faces the rising sun

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