This legendary citadel in the sky is a massive rock which tells a tale of power, intrigue and tragedy. It’s founder, King Kassyapa, who murdered his father, seized the throne from his brother, the rightful heir, then fled to the 182 metre high rock and built his palace there, safe from his enemies. Today, Sigiriya is famous for its “mirror wall”.
Here on the gallery walls are the famous Sigiriya frescoes. These frescoes which have withstood the elements for 15 centuries are probably the finest examples in the world.
The spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya is an impregnable fortress, a monastic retreat, and a rock art gallery. Built in the 5th century AD to fend of a feared invasion, it is situated atop a 200m (656ft) high rock, and at the height of its glory must have been akin to a European chateau plonked on top of Ayers Rock. There are water gardens, 5th century rock paintings of well endowed damsels, a 1000-year-old graffiti wall recording visitors impressions of the pin-ups, a couple of enormous stone lion paws and tremendous views.
ROCK FORTRESS OF SIGIRIYA
Sri Lanka ‘s fifth century fortress and penthouse, rising from the plains atop a huge rock, is most famous for its remarkably well preserved frescoes of beautiful Sigiriyan damsels. Amongst the complex of building, garden and waterways ruins, the enchanting women still glow in the late afternoon light.
Kasyapa, so the legend goes, walled up his father the King alive and built Sigiriya as an inpenetrable fortress against his half-brother, the rightful heir. By the time the invasion came he had created a glorious wet-season palace, graduating up a 200 metre high rock. Riding out on an elephant to meet the enemy, Kasyapa took his life after getting bogged in a swamp.
Sigiriya was only really rediscovered during the British era and is now one of the country’s most popular sightseeing destinations. An early start will help avoid both other visitors and the midday sun.
The Sigiriya frescoes are found halfway up the rock in a sheltered alcove, now reached by a spiral staircase. The only non-religious paintings of their kind in Sri Lanka , there were once perhaps 500 portraits covering the rock face. About 22 remain today. The exquisite detail shows accomplished painting skills and a definite desire to entice! In fact, 1000 years ago visitors felt compelled to jot down their reactions on a glazed wall a little beyond the frescoes. This early ‘graffiti’ has been deciphered by scholars and provides clues as to the development of Sinhalese language, as well as a bit of amusement for non-academics.
The entrance to Sigiriya takes visitors through water gardens which once used sophisticated technology for both aesthetic and practical use of flowing water. Further up is the more organic boulder garden and the terrace gardens. Taking the steep staircase to the summit, visitors pass through the remains of a giant lion statue, its paws either side of the steps. The summit is covered in the foundations of ancient buildings (including the King’s throne) and offers wonderful views of the gardens below.
|ANURADHAPURA/ POLONNARUWA/ SIGIRIYA/ DAMBULLA
Tourist Sights/ Activity/ Excursions
|Additional Expenses for Guest||Approximate timing|
|Entrance Ticket||Photo Permit||Jeep/Boat/ TukTuk/ Elephant etc.|
|Anuradhapura Ruins (Archeological sites)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 05 hours|
|Sri Maha Bodiya (Tree)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About ½ hours|
|Isuruminiya Viharaya (Rock Temple)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About ½ hours|
|Mihintale Monastery & Rock||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 02 hours|
|Polonnaruwa Ruins (Archeological sites)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 04 hours|
|Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 03 hours|
|Dambulla Buddhist Golden Temple (approx. walking 01 hour)||NO||YES||NO||NO||About 01 hour|
|Habarana Elephant Back Safari||NO||NO||NO||YES||About 01 hour|
|Minneriya National Park by Jeep||NO||YES||NO||YES||About 05 hours|
|Visit Kandalama Lake||YES||NO||NO||YES||About 1 ½ hour|
|Village tour by Bullock Cart.||YES||NO||NO||YES||About 1 ½ hour|
|Visit of a Technical tour to Herbal & Spice Garden||YES||NO||NO||NO||About 1 ½ hour|
|Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage||NO||YES||YES||NO||About 1 ½ hour|