Sigiriya - The Lion Rock


The 8th wonder of the world soaring 600 feet,was originally built to resemble a mountainous lion. A pair of enormous lion paws rest gallantly in remembrance of its former glory.The final ascent of the rock lies between these two paws, where a stair way leads up the lion’s throat.This fortified rock city built in the 5th century depicts remarkable architecture, design and engineering for its time.Sigiriya is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 King Kashyapa sought protection from his avenging brother after committing patricide by walling up his father alive.  Fearing his brothers’ return from exile to claim the throne, he moved the capital city to Sigirya where the magnificent rock palace was constructed.  King Kashyapa reigned from 477-495 AD. He committed suicide on the battlefield as he was deserted by his troops upon encountering his brother. Even though he reigned for short time of 18 years the legacy he left behind has lasted centuries.

Royal Gardens: The landscaped gardens consist of water gardens, boulder gardens and terraced gardens. These well preserved gardens is a combination of the hanging gardens of Babylon, the boulder gardens of China or Japan and the water gardens of ancient Rome. The terraced garden flows down to the boulder garden and then lands on the western, precinct with the water gardens are laid out geometrically. Fountains, pools ponds, running water, aquatic flowers and birds, tropical trees that paint this area must have been a calming retreat. The Audience Hall Rock, Cistern Rock, Cobra HoodCave and Preaching Rock found in the boulder gardens are fascinating rock carvings on a split rock boulder.

Frescoes “The  Sigiriya Damsels” : The glamorous paintings of the sensuous damsels depicting feminine beauty are one of the major attractions of this rock summit. Probably the only non-religious paintings in Sri Lanka, these 5th century artworks are similar in style to the rock paintings of Ajantha in India. Only twenty two of the 500 hundred paintings remain today.

Mirror Wall &Graffitti : Beyond the frescoes there is the glorified mirror wall. Believed to be polished with lime, egg whites and wild honey, this durable glaze reflects like glass even after thousands of years. This smooth glaze bears the irresistible remarks by visitors of nearly 6 centuries, who felt compelled to voice out their impressions of the lovely frescoes above them. This being Sri Lanka’s oldest graffiti, nearly 700 verses have been published.

Summit : Climbing through the lions jaws emerges a 3 acre area of a palace top. Remaining foundation and ground plan suggest the existence of a unique and grand palace, much different to those found in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The magnificent panoramic view is breathtaking and well worth the steep climb through the jaws of the lion. The large rock cut pool which looks like a modern swimming pool may have been used for water storage. The Kings stone throne believed to be the smooth slab of flat stone is placed facing the rising sun.