Sigiriya is located in Matale District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is within the cultural triangle, which includes five of the seven world heritage sites in Sri Lanka
SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS
The distance from Colombo is 169 km and is on the way to Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa. Sigiriya rock was a royal citadel for nearly twenty years. This great exciting site is nearly one hectare in extent, The Rock Fortress was built by King Kashyapa (477-495A.D.) who killed his father to gain his wealth. This wonderful fortress in the shape of a lion (the paws of which could still be seen) is a masterpiece of ancient architecture. Sigiriya has been made famous throughout the world for the frescoes on its rock wall and advanced water system. It is regarded as a World Heritage Site. Visitors to the palace have to enter through a stone stairway that takes them into the lion’s mouth and thorough it throat. Only the lion's 43 massive paws that remain today, but they indicate how gigantic the rest of the carving must have been, A new stairway has been attached to the side of the rock to allow access to the summit, enabling visitors to stroll around the ruins of the palace and gasp at the panoramic views. Two water tanks, used for bathing and drinking still fill with rain water, but a sophisticated pumping system had been used to fill the tanks from a lake at the foot of the rock.
The gardens of Sigiriya
The gardens of Sigiriya are unique and it is one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The water gardens, the most interesting, occupy the central section of the western precinct. There are three water gardens lying along the east west axis, The central island is surrounded by water in the largest garden and linked to the main precinct by cause way. The Boulder Garden in Sigiriya is another attraction. The boulder garden consists of several large boulders linked with winding pathways, The boulder garden extends from the northern slopes to southern slopes of the hills at the foot of Sigiriya rock. Most of these boulders had a building or pavilion upon then, The audience hall of the king was situated in the boulder garden, the remains of which are seen on the flattened and polished summit of a large boulder. The terraced gardens are the third type of garden formed from the natural hill at the base of the Sigiriya Rock by the construction of a series of walls. A series of terraces, each rising above the other, connect the pathways of the boulder garden to the staircases on the rock. The path through the terraced gardens in formed by a limestone staircase. From this staircase, there is a covered path on the side of the rock, leading to the uppermost terrace where the lion staircase is situated
The Lion Staircase
The Lion Staircase is the most dramatic feature. The two colossal paws and bricks surrounding the limestone are preserved and are very impressive. This Lion’s paw is the entrance to the top of the Sigiriya rock. In ancient times it’s said that there was a structure of a full lion,in as to enter to the top of the rock fortress, should go through the mouth of the lion in the entrance gate.
The Cobra Hooded Cave
This is called Cobra Hooded Cave as per its shape, There are many prehistoric paintings of flora and animals on its ceiling and they are different from the ones on the rock wall. Below the drip ledge is an inscription from the 2nd century BC that indicates it belonged to Chief Naguli, who would have donated it to a monk.
The Sigiriya Palace
The Sigiriya Palace complex consists of three distinct parts. The outer palace (lower palace) occupies the lower eastern part of the summit. The inner palace (upper palace) occupies the high western section, The palace garden occupies the South. The three sectors converge on a large beautiful rock-cut pool. The layout and the ground plan of the palace is still clearly visible.
Sigiriya Frescoes And Graffiti
The most famous features of Sigiriya are the fifth century paintings found on the rock, the paintings of female figures preserved in depressions on the rock-face, The figures represent the ‘Apsaras’ or celestial nymphs which are the common motif of Asian arts, These paintings have attracted people from all over the country in the past and in the modern times from everywhere in the world People who visited in the past had written poems by looking at them on the rock wall, and they are known as the Sigiri Graffiti. The Sigiri Graffiti on the Mirror Wall dates from about the sixth to fourteenth century and are mostly addressed to ladies in the paintings. About seven hundred of these were deciphered by Professor Senerath Paranavithana, Sri Lanka’s foremost Epigraphist. The poems expressed the visitor’s emotions and comments on the beauties in the paintings.