Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located near Habarana (17 km) and Damulla (7.8km), believed to be built by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) as his capital and hideout. This massive column of rock is nearly 200 m high. It is 177km away from Colombo city. Being one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning, today Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.

The story of the making of Sigiriya is very interesting entwined with earlier struggles of kings for throne. King Kashyapa was the son of King Dhatusena by a non-royal consort, killed his father by walling him up alive. He took the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Moggallana, Dhatusena’s son by the true queen. Knowing the danger for his life and to seize the throne with the support of outside forces, Moggallana fled to India vowing for revenge. Knowing this will become true someday, Kashyapa built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Moggallana finally arrived from India with his army, declared war against Kashyapa. Due to a miscommunication, Kashyapa’s army abandoned him during the battle. Not wanting to die in the hands of his brother, Kashyapa committed suicide by falling on his sword and died in 495 CE. Moggallana changed Sigiriya into a Buddhist monastery which was used until the 14th century.

Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress by Kashyapa during his stay, protecting from any outside intruders. It includes defensive structures, palaces, and gardens, date from this period. He is instrumental in making frescos in the walls covering most part of the western face of rock, an area of 140 m long and 40 m high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost forever. These frescos have similarities of the paintings in Ajantha Caves in Aurangabad, India.

Kashyapa also created the Mirror Wall and spiral stairs leading to the frescoes. Made of brick masonry and covered in highly polished white plaster, it is believed that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it.

The Gardens of the Sigiriya is one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three distinct but linked – water gardens, cave and boulder gardens and terraced gardens.

Actions: Enjoy a full day visit to Sigiriya and enjoy the architectural creativity and wisdom of ancient kings, enjoy the high winds at the summit. Don’t make any unwanted noises or trumpeting and make sure to take anti allergic medicines as many cases are reported of wasp attack.

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