The Sigiriya rock fortress revealing the grandeur of the Sigiriya World Heritage Site
Sigiriya rock fortress in Central Sri Lanka

It is never a secret that Sri Lanka is a land of marvels. Thus, its delight not only limits to the natural charms, rich culture and traditions, and the happy hearts of Sri Lankans. But also, for the wonderful heritage, it holds aligning with its graceful history. And when exploring the Sri Lankan saga with regard, we can never ever forget the grandeur of the Sigiriya world heritage site. Thus, we thought of sharing you with its delight, and its wonders will surely leave you gape in wonder. So, why not? Let us begin exploring its stupendous splendor. 

What is Sigiriya?

The famous Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and a palace from the marvelous history of Sri Lanka. As per the Sri Lankan saga, this fortress belongs to the period of 473 – 495 CE. Also, the chronicles reveal that Sigiriya is a work of King Kashyapa, a significant figure in the Sri Lankan monarchy. 

The Sigiriya rock fortress stands a few miles away from the famous ancient city of Dambulla, Sri Lanka. Moreover, the word Sigiriya or the Sinhagiri has got its name owing to the shape of the rock fortress. Of course, it is in the shape of a Lion. So, with the meaning of ‘Lion’s Rock’, it was famous as ‘Sinha-giri’. Later, it turned out to be Sigiriya. 

Sigiriya is gigantic in nature, and it majestically stands 660 feet straight up. Thus, you need to ascend around 1200 stages before you arrive at the Lion Rock Fortress on top of Sigiriya. It will require around 3 hours to visit and rebound from this massive creation. 

History of Sigiriya

By now, you know a glimpse of the history of Sigiriya, this wonderful world heritage site. Accordingly, you are aware that it belongs to the  473 – 495 CE, and is a work of King Kashyapa. However, the story behind the establishment of Sigiriya is indeed interesting. So, why not? Let us have a quick look over the history of Sigiriya.  

To be exact, the establishment and the early history of the castle of Sigiriya is associated with a few grievous occasions. They were related to the relationship of two siblings namely Kasyapa and Moggallana. They were the two sons of King Dathusena, who was a remarkable figure in the monarchy of Anuradhapura Kingdom. However, Prince Kasyapa (477-495 AD) killed his father, the king, and wrongfully took the seat. 

Consequently, the lawful beneficiary of the seat Prince Moggallana had to run away to India. Owing to this dispute, and since Prince Kasyapa feared that his brother would return, he chose to move his ruling capital from Anuradhapura to the focal parts of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, he built a regal royal residence on a high stone to ensure it won’t be attacked by the correct beneficiary of the seat, Prince Moggallana. And yes, you guessed it right! The regal royal residence he built on the high stone was this wonderful Sigiriya fortress. 

However, Mogallana returned, and he declared a war with King Kasyapa. The military of King Kasyapa abandoned him, and it brought advantages to Prince Moggalana. Accordingly, King Moggalana won the battle, and King Kasyapa suicided by falling himself on his sword. 

Sigiriya after the Death of King Kasyapa

Following this incident, King Mogallana made Anuradhapura his kingdom and continued the rule. Later, Sigiriya had become a Buddhist Monastery Complex. 

In 1831 Jonathan Forbes, an individual from the British armed forces found Sigiriya as a bush-covered rock, on his way from Polonnaruwa on horseback. Afterward, this site happened to be a major focus of study for the students of history and archeologists. 

It was during the 1980s that the Sri Lankan government conducted significant research with regard, under the Cultural Triangle Project. Accordingly, archeologists were able to find a series of amazing features of this wonderful site. The fifth-century fortress, imperial royal residence, nurseries, parks, and 1500 years of age frescoes on the western mass of the intricate, were the highlights of them. 

Architecture and City Planning of Sigiriya Rock 

This Sigiriya rock fortification is an extraordinary work of art, and its features and architectural aspects prove that it held a structure of a highly organized city.  Moreover, its development designs clearly emphasize the innovative engineering techniques used in that period. The excellent water-powered designing and well structured compelling artwork used when planning the city simply reveal the interesting amiability among nature and human creative minds. 

Further, the lion rock Sigiriya has two strengthened regions. Its western area incorporates 90 hectares, and the eastern region covers 40 hectares. The western zone is the illustrious ancient park territory. It also holds an evenly planned wonderful garden with expound water-holding structures. It is encircled by three defenses and two channels. Moreover, it frames a rectangular zone that holds internal regions that has an area of around 700 meters from east to west and 500 meters from north to south.

On the opposite side of the Lion rock Sigiriya, is the eastern zone. However, there is a belief that King Kasyapa and his imperial family carried on with their lives inside these dividers. Then moving forward internally, there is a progression of stone gardens and afterward, there are terraced gardens. This leads to the way forward as a passage to the Sigiriya rock. 

However, all these coupled together, exhibit the grandeur of a well planned ancient city. The water technology it uses, still standing strong structures, the positioning of the compartments of the fortress, and the wonderful landscapes and gardens, are indeed awe-inspiring features that make its delight reach the extreme. 

Why is Sigiriya a World Heritage Site?

Simply, Sigiriya is one of the fine examples of a well-planned ancient city, with fabulous engineering marvels, rich artistic values, and a majestically historical delight. Owing to its significance in each of these aspects, UNESCO declared Sigiriya as a world heritage site under the name “Ancient City of Sigiriya Sri Lanka”, in 1982. Moreover, the Sigiriya World heritage site is also known as the 8th wonder of the world. 

What is Sigiriya World Heritage Site Famous For?

Simply, Sigiriya is famous for a bunch of remarkable reasons. The following facts will help you realize its significance. 

  1. Sigiriya world heritage site is famous as a gigantic fortification complex that holds an impressive archeological significance. 
  2. The artistic values Sigiriya world heritage site unveils are awe-inspiring and rich in value. Thus, it is famous as a place with a high aesthetic value.  
  3. The location and the view of the Sigiriya world heritage site creates a splendid atmosphere for a hike, as well as to enjoy a day. Hence, it is a famous hiking spot and an ideal location for a day trip.  

Owing to these noteworthy factors, Sigiriya is famous among local travelers, as well as among tourists. Thus, it does no harm in introducing the Sigiriya world heritage site as a most visited vacationer location of Sri Lanka.

However, when exploring the delight of this marvel, there are many features that exhibit its specialty covering varying aspects. With regard, its main significant features are as follows.

  • Sigiriya Water Technology 
  • Mirror Wall, Sigiriya and Lion Rock Graffiti 
  • Boulder Garden of Lion Rock Sigiriya
  • Lion Staircase
  • Palace Complex of Sigiriya Lion Rock
  • Sigiriya Frescoes Paintings 

Of course, you might be wondering what these are. Keep calm! We are ready to unveil the splendor of each of these aspects one after another. 

Sigiriya Water Technology

Indeed, one of the obvious marvels of ancient Sri Lankan engineering! The wonder of the Sigiriya water technology mainly revolves around its water garden. Of course, it can be considered as a single framework in concept. Still, four unmistakable parts are simply noticeable in its creation. In the present, they are famous as the water garden number 1, water garden number 2, water garden number 3, and the miniature water garden. 

Water garden number 1 has four large ‘L’- molded lakes making an island in the center. Besides, water garden number 2 is more special. A highlighting feature of water garden number 2 is its wellsprings. Thus, it is also popular as the fountain garden as well. Moreover, two summer castles are there on either side of this fountain garden. Besides, they clearly leave the visitors gape in wonder, making them think twice of how the wellsprings were taken care of with water. And you know what? It is the canals that belong to the underground channels that feed the fountains going around the late spring castles. And the wonder of the Sigiriya water technology is that these water fountains are still functioning. 

Water Garden number 3 is situated at a higher height and has an uneven spread out. Owing to this feature, the equilibrium and balance of different segments of the Sigiriya water framework seem to be missing here. Further, the miniature water garden is a ‘scaled down’ refinement of the other three nursery frameworks.

Mirror Wall, Sigiriya and Lion Rock Graffiti 

If you visit the Sigiriya world heritage site, you are able to catch the sight of the Sigiriya Graffiti on the outside of the Mirror Wall at Sigiriya. To be specific, it is a collection of more than 1800 bits of exposition, verse, and discourse composed by old sightseers. Moreover, they are just more than spray paintings. What they reveal is priceless. Specifically, they offer a captivating understanding of the historical backdrop of Sigiriya and the advancement of language in Sri Lanka over a time of 800 years. 

Most of the spray paintings allude to the delightful works of art of semi-bare females. Further, these spray paintings affirm that this site was the home of King Kashyapa who governed from 477 to 495 AD. The writings additionally recommend that the females portrayed in the frescoes are the women of the King’s regal court – the women of the collection of mistresses. 

Also, the spray painting ranges from explanations of delight, affirmations of affection, discourse, curses, regrets, journal sections, or simple articulations of visit. Further, many exhibit an elevated level of education and profound enthusiasm for workmanship. Moreover, the verses on it are in varying languages such as Sinhalese, Sanskrit, and Tamil. Thus, there is no harm in introducing it as a spotlight for the harmonious entanglement of Sri Lankan culture as well. 

However, these early scribblers have left us invaluable experiences in the past. Out of these artworks around 685 people are distinguished up until this point. Also, there are records of names of more than half of them. Besides, more than 1000 remarkable words have been distinguished. In addition, this graffiti also reveals that most of these guests were from the first class of society. 

Boulder Garden of Lion Rock Sigiriya

The boulder garden contains an inclining landscape around the focal stone that holds a series of rocks of varying sizes. The courses to the castle on the stone culmination are spread out through the rock garden. Moreover, they seem to be winding pathways that are accentuated by common stone curves.

Among the highlights of this garden, is the ‘Crowd Hall’. It is a place where a five-meter long primary seat is cut out of the living stone. Another noteworthy component of the garden is the ‘Proclaiming Rock’. It is a place where a seat is cut out at the straightened edge of a genuinely high stone. There is also a place famous as ‘Asana Cave’. It is a seat cut out inside a characteristic cavern. Further, many more rock stones are there in this site, and there is a belief that they are remnants from the Buddhist monastery which was at Sigiriya.  

The terraced garden of Sigiriya Lion Rock lies in the high ground between the boulder garden and the Sigiriya rock. Also, it is designed into a progression of generally concentric porches by methods for stone holding dividers.

Lion Staircase 

The last climb to the regal royal residence on Sigiriya rock lies through the Lion Staircase. It faces north and has two colossal paws of a lion in front. These lion-paws are indeed significant when considering the structure of this ancient fortress. They are built of blocks and covered with mortar. To be specific, they are the leftovers of a front piece of lion figure that should have once remained there. 

Palace Complex of Sigiriya Lion Rock 

The Palace Complex on the highest point of the Sigiriya rock is around 1.5 hectares in degree. The primary landmark visible there is the imperial castle which lies towards the west. The royal residence garden comprises a huge counterfeit pool. Other nursery highlights are toward the east. Beneath the castle, on a stone confronting the east is a seat cut out of the normal stone.

Sigiriya Frescoes Paintings 

The fifth century A.D. canvases are undeniably the peak of all imaginative manifestations of Sri Lanka. In Sigiriya, there are around nineteen compositions that belong to this period, in a downturn on the western side of the stone face. The most important figures among them are the images of the lovely maidens, gliding among mists. However, as per the Sigiriya graffiti, there had been around 500 such figures covering all up the western and northern stone appearances, initially. Yet, in the present, there are only a few remaining.  

Numerous hypotheses endeavor to decipher the. the character of the delightful ladies depicted in these old works of art. As per H.C.P Bell, they are Kasyapa’s mistresses, heading to the Pidurangala sanctuary close by, bearing blossoms for the offering. As indicated by the famous researcher Ananda Coomaraswamy, the maids are Apsaras or goddesses.

The prominent Sri Lankan paleontologist, Prof. Senarat Paranvitana offers an extremely unique translation of the personality of the Sigiriya maidens. He interprets that these ladies are emblematic portrayals of downpour mists and lightning. With regard, the belief is that the darker looking ladies reflect downpour mists and brilliant skin once Vajji Kumari signifies lightning. 

Aside from these famous figures, chronicles reveal that the caves in the boulder garden also had artworks. Moreover, there is proof that there were artistic creations on the external surface of the Mirror Wall as well. However, the world-famous Sigiriya frescoes about which we discussed earlier, are undoubtedly some of the best artworks of the world, still preserved in the best condition. 

The Bottom Line

Rising majestically amidst the greenery, unveiling the grandeur of the Sri Lankan heritage, the Sigiriya rock fortress still stands strong as the most acclaimed archeological treasure on the island of Sri Lanka. The remnants of this luxuriously designed city complex unveils how amazing the cutting edge innovations of that time were. The sense of aesthetic value its amazing architectural designs and its vivid frescoes add to it are marvelous beyond a doubt. Its well-planned landscaping and mind-blowing gardens reveal to the world the delight of ancient Sri Lankan technology. All these features coupled together make Sigiriya a world heritage site, one of the most fantastic creations of the ancient world. 

In summary, we are highlighting the fact that the Sigiriya world heritage site is more like a cultural complex, with a bunch of amazements to witness. So, if you ever visit Sri Lanka, make sure that you never miss the delight of this stupendous engineering marvel. Happy and safe traveling!