Sigiriya Rock Fortress - Most impressive attraction

P.D. PadmasiriStarred Page By P.D. Padmasiri, 23rd Aug 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Sri Lanka>Colombo & Around

According to the Sri Lankan Chronicles, Sigiriya was the fortress - palace built by King Kassapa 1 in the late 5th century. Inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BC found in the caves surrounding the area indicate the presence of ascetic monks. Moreover, there are more than 700 poems written by centuries ago.

Sigiriya - World Heritage Site

Shafts of sunlight upon the trees around this area threw dappled patterns on the rugged pathway leading to calm and tranquil area leading to Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Built on a sheer-sided volcanic plug rising 200 meters above he surrounding jungle, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is most possibly the Sri Lanka's most impressive attraction. It is also known as the "Lion's Rock" and one of the island's seven UNESCO Heritage sites, featuring extensive gardens, staircases, galleries, caves and other structures. Sri Lankan chronicles provides evidence that Sigiriya was the fortress-palace built by King Kassapa 1 in the late 5th century. According to Chronicles, Kassapa put his father to death in a rebellion and fearing the revenge of his brother, fled and abandoned Anuradhapura being his capital and built this fortress to protect himself. Nonetheless, he resorted to commit suicide ultimately during this battle with the invading forces of his brother. However, a recent school of thought suggests that Sigiriya was not a fortress or a palace and is thought to be a great Mahayana monastic complex.

Inscriptions found from the 3rd century

According to the inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BCE found in the caves that surround the area indicate presence of ascetic monks and as a result, Sigiriya became a branch of the Abhayagiri Vihara and continued to function as a monastery for hundreds of years. The intricate and most alluring designs and landscaping designs of inner city of this great site has attracted thousands of visitors who throng to sightseeing and steps have been taken to restore the past glory of this rock mansion with new facilities being added to the convenient of visitors. Although there were references of around 500 of these figures most have been faded away and discolored completely and sadly there are only 22 of such paintings remain today. Some say these are the figures of Apsaras, or celestial nymphs, while others contend that they are Mahayana deities such as Tara and her attendants.

The Mirror Wall - "Ketapath Paura"

You will then enter into a wall with ancient graffiti which originally had mirror-like polish. This is where visitors from thousands of years ago wrote on the wall their impressions of the the paintings and also their experiences and thoughts on Sigiriya. It still retained traces of the past with there are more than 700 poems on the graffiti and many are written in very neat and precise lettering. Originally this wall was so well polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of a kind of porcelain, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. Well preserved, the mirror wall has verses dating from the 8th century.

Water gardens

A series of striking and elaborate pools, symmetrically placed and fed by a complex system of underground pipes is reminiscent of the glorious past of the country and also the marvelous engineering feats that have been in placed thousands of years ago. It is amazing to see that some of the fountains are still in the working order proving ample testimony to the ingenuity of the ancient hydraulic engineers of the past. These gardens, according to traditional accounts, were the bathing places of the King's concubines who were drawn from many different races. After climbing a spiral staircase built along the sheer cliff wall, then I am sure you will be attracted by the colorful frescoes of graceful ladies painted on the side of the rock which are most beautiful and well-preserved of ancient by ancient Sri Lankan art.

The Lion Staircase

Then you find your way into the Lion Staircase tapering towards skyward. You find there on the large terrace near the top of the rock are two huge lion paws, the remains of an enormous lion-shaped entrance. Visitors would have to enter between its paws and climb up through its mouth to reach its peak. It is amazing that this structure alone rose to about 14 meters in height.

Being on the summit - unforgettable experience

On reaching the summit of the rock fortress you will find remains of the foundations of the palaces, pavilions, halls and ponds. It is still unknown how the ancient engineers pumped water up the height of the rock. The plateau offers magnificent view from all sides and it covers an area of about 16,000 sq. meters. What is particularly breathtaking is the bird's eye view of the Water Gardens as well as surrounding pathways showing their precise and geometrical layout. The other striking features of this magnificent fortress includes the Boulder Garden. On the way down are paths and stairways winding through clusters of large boulders and rocks. You are astonished to see many of these boulders had a hall or a pavilion cut into them. Sadly, today the walls and columns of these structures are no longer exist. We can only see the fragments of paintings in some of these impressive shelters today.

view of Sigiriya Rock at a distance

The Sigiriya Rock fortress is a truly fascinating place to visit. The increasing number of visitors it attracts and the unique experience it gives holiday goers will continue to remain an enticing fact!

Tags

Chronicles, Fortress, Heritage, Heritage Sites, Magnificent, Magnificent Work, Monastery, Painting, Paintings, Traditional, Visiting, Visitors, Visits

Meet the author

author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
I am from Weedagama, Bandaragama, SRI LANKA, HR Manager by profession and have 17 years of experience in my chosen field. I am interested in writing on Buddhism, Spiritual advancement, Nature etc.

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Comments

author avatar Buzz
24th Aug 2011 (#)

Fantastic historical piece and images, PD. Congrats on the star page.

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author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
24th Aug 2011 (#)

Thank you very much Buzz for all encouraging remarks and also your interest in exploring historical places in Sri Lanka. Good Luck!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
24th Aug 2011 (#)

Wonderful history and article!!!

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author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
24th Aug 2011 (#)

Your encouraging comments are very much appreciated and wish you good luck, Delicia

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author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Thank you very much Delicia for reading and hope you gained much about on Sigiriya and historical events. Best regards

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author avatar Sheila Newton
24th Aug 2011 (#)

The photos are stunning, the writing descriptive but understated. Magnificent work.

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author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Thank you very much Sheila for all your encouraging comments and reading my page about Sigiri Rock. Best regards

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author avatar Sheila Newton
24th Aug 2011 (#)

P.S. And the star page too. Well-deserved, my friend.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
24th Aug 2011 (#)

Beautifully chronicled and presented P. D. Thank you for taking us on a marvelous journey. Stunning photographs as well. Just a great star page.

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author avatar P.D. Padmasiri
25th Aug 2011 (#)

Thank you very much Steve for reading my page and also for encouraging comments. Best regards, Good luck!

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