SIGIRIYA, THE LION ROCK CITADEL

As I promised last week, today I’ll be taking you to a mesmerizing attraction within the island of Sri Lanka. To make this journey interesting I thought of starting from a place full of adventure, thrills, secrets, wonders, architectural marvels, striking features, and monumental history.

Yes…. It’s the “Eighth Wonder in the World” and the majestic Rock Fortress Complex known as SIGIRIYA. The name “SIGIRIYA” is derived from its structure where the northern entrance of the Palace is designed with a massive lion’s claws. Locals used to call it Sinhagiri, The Lion Rock where an etymology similar to Sinhapura, the Sanskrit name of Singapore, the Lion City.

Sneak Peek of Sigiriya

The Rock Fortress of Sigiriya is located in the northern Matale District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. (169km from the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo) The journey includes a climb of 1200 steps (approximately 1.5 hours journey) to the top of the Sigiriya rock where you can find the remnants of the ruined Palace built 370m above the sea level leading to a prehistoric archeologic turning point.

Well…., don’t Miss these 05 things when you visit Sigiriya;

#Don’t Miss the Majestic History

The monumental history of the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya travels back to the time of 477 – 495 AD when King Kashyapa moved the palace and the capital of Sri Lanka from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya once he seized the throne from his father, King Datusena.

Meanwhile, the right heir to the throne Moggallana vowed revenge and fled to India to raise an army against Kashyapa. Expecting the return of Moggallana, the new palace was built on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress by King Kashyapa. He developed Sigiriya into a Citadel with fortifications, Palaces, vast Gardens, Ponds, Canals, and water fountains spread across hectares of lands where even for today you can witness most of them beautifully preserved and gracefully standing.

Finally, in 495 AD Moggallana returned with his army and defeated King Kashyapa. Yet it’s a very uncompleted story full of secrets yet to be revealed since there are so many alternative stories for this battle due to the lack of documented history. One is said that the Kashyapa was abandoned by his army so that he committed suicide by falling on his sword. Others say that since he was too proud to surrender he took his dagger, cut his throat, and fell dead. Some other versions even say that he was assassinated by poison.

However, King Kashyapa could construct a Citadel that even after so many years that we are astonished by the unique harmony among nature, advanced engineering, and architectural marvels and human imaginations.

A Hypothetical Illustration of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress Premises

After the era of King Kashyapa this unbelievable fortress premises was used as a Buddhist monastery and in 1988 Sigiriya was named as the “Eighth Wonder in the World” by UNESCO.

#Don’t Miss the Graceful Entrance

Once you entered the Royal gardens in Sigiriya and start climbing the Rock, halfway through you find the final Entrance to the Sky Palace of King Kashyapa on the northern side of the rock. Though only Lion’s claws and the staircase is preserved and can be seen today it is believed that it was once a colossal gatehouse constructed in the form of a crouching sphinxlike lion which guarded the Sky Palace entrance graciously.

Yes… the remaining Lion’s Claws and nails indicate its actual size and you can imagine Lion’s ablaze eyes and the agape mouth that ready to swallow anyone who dared to enter without permission.  Interesting right???? The semi-circular granite moonstone at the base of the satire case adds more color to this incredible entrance and the stairs are proceeding in a zig-zag pattern leading to the summit of Sigiriya.

A Hypothetical Illustration of the Lion Gatehouse

Beyond the Lion Staircase lies the inmost palace complex including Royal Stone Throne, Royal Residencies, Royal Pond, Service Quarters, Royal Gardens, and the stupa.

#Don’t Miss the Wonderful Graffiti on Mirror Wall

In ancient times this wall was so polished that the King could reflect himself through it and served as a Mirror indeed. Later on, the visitors to this mesmerizing Rock Fortress scribbled verses and poems related to love, irony, and their experiences. The oldest graffiti prove that this mirror wall existed from the 8th century which gives a clue that Sigiriya was, is, and will be the greatest tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.

Aren’t you curious to know about the graffiti on Mirror Wall??

Here is one graffiti that can be found on this amazing mirror wall;

"බුදල් මී
සියෝවෑ ආමි, 
සීගිරී බැලීමි....
බැලු බැලු බෝ දනා
ගී ලීළුයෙන් ගී නොලීමි"

The translation would be “I am Budal (the writer’s name). Came with hundreds of people to see Sigiriya. Since all the others wrote poems, I did not!”

Another one would be;

“Having ascended Sigiriya to see what is there
I fulfilled my mind’s desire
And saw His Lordship the Lion….”


I think these prove the rich culture and the literature Sri Lankans had in old times and unfortunately writing on mirror wall is strictly prohibited at present and feel free to write anything that comes to your mind while reading this adventurous journey in the comments section….. 😉

#Don’t Miss the Beautiful Frescoes in the West Wing

In the west wing of the rock we find the incredible paintings of damsels floating on the clouds which are indisputably the zenith of all artistic creations of Sri Lanka. This whole phase of the rock wall (140m long and 42m in height) has been known as a gigantic gallery…. Perhaps the largest picture in the world according to many archaeologists.

Graffiti on Mirror wall confirms that as to around 500 such paintings were covering the west wing of the rock fortress originally. But only around 20 frescoes can be seen today. There are many interpretations for these half nude female portraits on Sigiri Rock. Some says those are the portraits of concubines of King Kashyapa, and some says it’s an occasion of religious ritual where these ladies are on the way to worship the Pidurangala Temple nearby. Another interpretation is that these damsels are symbolic representations of rain clouds and lightnings.

Sigiri Damsels

However guess what…….. it is also said that these lovely maidens are note half nude but actually wearing the blouses made out of gossamer veil which was a silk material where even seven layers of this material was like evening dew on the grass and alike running water.

Yes you read it correctly!! Isn’t that an amazing thing to know???

#Don’t Miss the Bird Eye Citadel View

Once you reach the summit of Sigiriya the scenic 360 degree bird eye view of the Sigiriya Citadel spread across 130 hectares can be enjoyed and experienced. The Royal Gardens can be clearly viewed from the top of the Lion Rock fortress. These gardens are among the world’s oldest landscaped gardens and the entire Sigiri Palace premises that can be viewed from the top is a proof of best preserved example of ancient urban planning.

Now… there are three types of gardens in Sigiriya. Water, Boulder and Terraced gardens and these also have a unique importance since the advanced technology used and the hydraulic systems implemented still baffled the modern engineers.

Among the three garden types the boulder gardens consist of several large boulders linked by winding pathways. Most of these boulders had a building or pavilion upon them; there are cuttings that were used as footings for brick walls and beams. They were used to be pushed off from the top to attack enemies when they approached while the terraced gardens are formed from the natural hill at the base of the Sigiriya rock.

In the Sigiri Garden we can find three kind of water gardens. Mainly a garden consists of a plot surrounded by water, secondly two long, deep pools set on either side of the path and finally a large, octagonal pool with a raised podium on its northeast corner which is located on a higher level than the other two. Believe me even after more than 1000 years later some water fountains still work and add a scenic beauty to the Royal Garden.

Water Fountains

Once you get down from the summit you can closely observe the unique garden features. And that marks the end of today’s journey to SIGIRIYA, the Lion Rock Fortress of Sri Lanka.

Yes it’s not an easy climb but worth the efforts!! 🤴👸

See you all in next post with another stunning destination in Sri Lanka…. 🇱🇰

Cheers!

15 Replies to “SIGIRIYA, THE LION ROCK CITADEL”

  1. It is really interesting to read your articles girl i! 😍 After all, I am not a fan of reading articles of historical places, but this article of yours made me read the entire thing at once! 😍❤️

    Liked by 5 people

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