Sigiriya is one of nature’s magnificent creations. The rock rises from all sides to a height of 600 feet. The total height above sea level is about 1100 feet. Sigiriya is one of the memorable places of interest, where a unique combination of ancient art, architecture, urban planning, engineering landscaping and hydraulic technology can be seen here. A king called Kashyapa used this rock as a rock fortress. There is a protective water canal around the fortress. In addition to this water canal there are pleasure gardens, ponds and fountains. Some of the fountains are in function even today.
The route to the World Heritage site of sigiriya or the “lion rock”, from Colombo is through the Inamaluwa Junction on Colombo-Habarana-Trincomalee road after 156km. a right turn to the east will lead one to the rock at a distance of 8km. it is located in the Matale District within the hilly Central Province.
It was over 1500 years ago that Kashyapa, the son of Dathusena built his kingdom on the Sigiriya rock fortress and ruled Sri Lanka. After Dathusena’s successful campaign against invaders, Kasyapa wanted to create the magnificient capital city full of splendor belonging to the god of wealth (Kuvera). This is an extraordinary masterpiece in architecture.
Frescoes of female Apsaras
Sigiriya claims an international fame due to the historic frescoes of female Apsaras or celestial nymphs, painted in the 5th century AD, at a height of about 100 meters above the ground on the rock face. The paintings are in the form of a band of length 140 meters. Some scholars and historians defined these celestial nymphs as “lightening princesses” or “cloud damsels”.
Graffiti on Mirror Wall
An appreciation of the true nature of interaction of people belonging to different levels of social strata who visited Sigiriya is provided by the graffiti. The history of Sigirya and even the evolution of the language can be seen in a fascinating style.
One of the important features of the Sigiriya complex is the dramatic staircase starting with the colossal lion paws which had earlier been complete with masonry work, a part of which is still visible. The view of the majestic lion facing the direction north would have been a breath-taking sight with the head and shoulders projecting from the rock, during the 5th century AD.
Pidurangala Cave Temple
Pidurangala, a monastery pf period 3rd c BC- 1st c AD with a cave temple is only 1km from the rock. After the abandoning of the royal palace at Sigiriya in the 6th c AD, the temple became a place of pilgrimage.
The Sigiriya gardens is one of the world’s oldest landscaped gardens. The water gardens occupy a central position of the western face. They include a central island surrounded by water. There are a number of fountains, ponds, rock gardens and spectacular caves at the end of the gardens.
Museum at Sigiriya
The museum gives a comprehensive coverage of all findings that have been made in the region. Among them the replicas of the cemetery and pottery from Ibbankatuwa, skeletons of human remainings from cave settlements as old as 3500 BC from Potana and findings done at the mirror wall are special interest. The museum provides a very explanative guide for the visitors those who cannot climb up the massive rock.