Sigiriya is the most visited tourist attraction and one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. The palace and fortress complex is renowned as one of the finest examples of ancient urban planning. Considering the uniqueness of Sigiriya UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1982 because of urban planning, water engineering, gardening and arts, it’s the Eighth Wonder of the World. This ancient palace and rock fortress complex has significant archaeological value and attract thousands of visitors every year. This is an ancient citadel located in Sigiriya near the town of Dambulla at the Central province of Sri Lanka.
Travel Route and Time
Sigiriya is a rock nearly 200 meters in height and it surrounded by the jungle. This site was chosen by King Kashyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He constructed his fortress on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful paintings. About the halfway up the side of this rock king built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of Lion Rock is derived because of the structure of this gateway. Due to the death of the king, The capital and the royal palace was abandoned and it has been used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site located in the town of Dambulla Sri Lanka. It is one of the best preserved example of ancient city planning. It’s the most visited site in Sri Lanka.
The western wall of Sigiriya have been a gigantic picture gallery, an area 140 meters long and 40 meters high, It’s the largest picture in the world, created during the reign of Kasyapa. There are references in the drawings to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost now 21 frescoes have persisted to this day. The initial drawing was done on wet plaster and then painted with red, yellow, green and black
The identity of the ladies in these paintings still have not been confirmed. Some believe that they are the ladies of the king, some others think that they are women taking part in religious observances. These images have a close similarity to pictures seen in the Ajanta Caves in India
The ground of the Sigiriya fresco is all in all laid in three layers, mud fortified by paddy husks and other natural fibers, mud blended with lime and sand, and a surface richer in lime than the previous layer. The final coating of lime was applied and wiped smooth to obtain the colors which are the three traditional earth colors of the ancient painter’s palette- red ochre, yellow ochre and green earth. the method of painting has been shown to be an oil emulsion tempera with gum. This is the initial example, adequately dated, of a painting which is known to contain a drying oil in the binding medium both in the laying of the ground as well as in the paint layer.
At the time the mirror wall was built by King Kasyapa over 1600 years ago it was a highly polished white masonry parapet wall that the king could see himself while he walked alongside it. Now stained in hues of orange. The special plaster of the mirror wall made of fine lime, egg whites, and honey. The surface of the wall was then polished to a brilliant shine with beeswax. The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors.
The Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon, Senarath Paranavithana, read 685 verses written in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries CE on the mirror wall.
One such poem from these long-past centuries, roughly translated It saying
“I am Budal. Came with hundreds of people to see Sigiriya. Since all the others wrote poems, I did not!”
Today, writing on the wall is strictly prohibited
These impressions are proving that Sigiriya was a tourist destination more than a thousand years ago.
Passing through the water garden, The next level of the Sigiriya Complex is Boulder Gardens. They were built around the existing rock formations.
When you are visiting through the west gateway The Water Gardens are the first part of Sigirya. Fairly well preserved. There were number of palaces and bathing pavilions among the gardens and the entire area featured lush flora. The area reserved for the royal family to relax. Each garden has its own unique features.
The Miniature Water Garden and Interlocking L Shaped water gardens are primarily bathing pools.
Water Fountain Gardens display of hydraulic water system
The Terrace Gardens are made out of the natural hill at the base of the rock by the creation of a series of rubble-retaining walls, each terrace rising above the other and running in a roughly concentric plan around the rock.
The rocky plateau of Sigiriya has been served as a monastery Since 3rd century BC. In 477 – 495 King Kasyapa decided to construct a royal residence here on to of this rock.
After the death of the king, Sigiriya again became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, when it was abandoned.
The lion Paw is located in the half way up of the sigiriya. King has been built the entrance with the form of an enormous lion. It is located in the northern side of the rock. The name of the Lion Rock has been derived because of this form of the enormous lion.