If you’re seeking a unique adventure that combines history, culture, and breathtaking natural beauty, look no further than Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka. This iconic site, often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” has captivated travelers for centuries with its historical significance and enigmatic charm.
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Historical Background Of Sigiriya Rock In Sri Lanka
We dig into the fascinating story of an ancient kingdom and its kings in the history of Sigiriya. King Kashyapa, a historical person who left a lasting impression on the landscape of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka, is at the center of this enthralling story. King Kashyapa directed the construction of the spectacular Sigiriya fortress with a passion he had for architectural concepts and proved his grand vision and artistic finesse.
Sigiriya fortress is built on a massive rock formation and is an amazing example of engineering and ingenuity. Its enormous size and advantageous location serve as a testament to its founders’ ingenuity and ambition and you’ll understand Sigiriya’s distinctive synthesis of untainted natural beauty and human ingenuity as you tour the remains of this imposing stronghold.
The significance of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka’s history cannot be overstated. It served as the capital of King Kashyapa’s kingdom during the 5th century serving as a symbolic and political center and the rock fortress stood as a testament to his power and authority, reflecting the artistic and architectural brilliance of the era.
Today, This remarkable place continues to attract visitors from across the world, beckoning them to uncover its intriguing past. As you wander through its ancient corridors and marvel at its intricate frescoes and ingenious hydraulic systems, you’ll gain a deeper knowledge of the rich historical heritage of this iconic site.
What is the story behind the Sigiriya fortress?
There was a king in ancient Sri Lanka called Dhathusena who ruled the country from Anuradhapura from 459 to 477 AD. He had two sons and one is from one of his concubines. Those are Kashyapa and Muggalan. Kashyapa was the son of a non-royal concubine of King Dhatusena and did not have any claim to the throne. Although Kashpa’s brother Mugalan was the rightful heir to the throne Kashyapa was aiming to get the throne before Muggalan. Kashyapa waited for a suitable environment to acquire the throne. At this time King Dhatusena had a nephew called Migara and Migara’s mother was the King’s sister.
He was married to Dhathusena’s daughter and he was the major of the king’s army. King ordered to kill Migara’s mother (Dhatusena’s sister) following an argument between his daughter and sister. To get revenge for this act, Migara guided and helped Kashyapa to catch and overthrow Dhathusena from the throne by carrying out a coup in the Palace. Then, Kashyapa got the throne and Dhatusena was put in jail. after that, he killed his father making a mud wall using King Dhatusena as a human brick.
When happening all of these, Magellan was scared about his life and fled to India. but anyway, though Kashayapa becomes the king he was also afraid of Mugalan’s return and he thought Mugalan would defeat him with the assistance of the Indian army and would get back the throne from him. Due to this reason, he left Anuradhapura and selected Sigiriya as his kingdom to protect himself from his brother.
When he arrived here, Sigiriya was a monastery of Buddhist monks and still, we can see so many caves around the area. Then he requested the monks to leave the place and go to the Pidurangala temple made by him for the monks. Then he created the Sigiriya Rock as a fortress for his own safety. All of the city, palace, garden, and arts were built under his command within seven years.
But Finally, 18 years later, Mugallan returned with a South Indian organized force, to claim his right to the throne and for revenge. Finally, Muggalan became king after defeating King Kashyapa. It said King Kashayapa suicide himself with his own sword ignoring dying from an enemy sword but anyway, no one knows how he died because some said he died poisoned by his concubine and some say he died by snake bites. After Kashyapa’s death, the Sigiriya rock fortress was handed over to the monks again to run the monastery by King Muggalan.
The site was finally abandoned in 1155, except for brief military uses by the Kingdom of Kandy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries until it was rediscovered by the British in 1828.
Specialty about Sigiriya
The outstanding special feature is Urban planning and the technology that was used to build this in the 5th century. It is one of the best city planning systems in ancient Asia. But it is somewhat different from other ancient city planning systems because Sigirya city is not just a ruling center but also an aesthetic creation. The ground plan of the city has been created beautifully and subtly. It is the best example of urban planning in the first millennium.
The Gardens of Sigiriya
Ingenious hydraulic systems and water gardens
Sigiriya’s hydraulic systems and water gardens showcase the technological prowess of ancient Sri Lankan engineers. These ingenious feats of engineering include intricate canals, fountains, and water gardens that were designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The mastery of water management at Sigiriya is a testament to the advanced knowledge and sophistication of the civilization that once thrived here.
Boulder Gardens and their strategic positioning
Strategically positioned around Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka, the Boulder Gardens served as a natural defense mechanism, enhancing the fortress’s impenetrability. These strategically arranged boulders created a labyrinthine network, making it difficult for intruders to navigate the surroundings. The Boulder Gardens not only fortified Sigiriya but also added to its mystique and architectural allure.
The Terraced Garden is made using the natural mountain at the foot of the Sigiriya, with one Terrace being higher than the other and built as a protective wall made of black stone around the rock.
Climbing Sigiriya Rock
Preparing for the Adventure
Climbing Sigiriya is a rewarding experience, but it requires some preparation. Ensure you have comfortable footwear, as the ascent involves climbing steep staircases and rocky terrain. Don’t forget to carry plenty of water, as the Sri Lankan sun can be relentless.
The ascent begins gently, with a series of stone steps leading you to the top. Along the way, you’ll encounter mirror walls that once reflected the frescoes and vibrant colors of the palace. As you climb higher, the view becomes more breathtaking, and the anticipation of reaching the summit grows.
Intricate frescoes: The enigmatic Sigiriya maidens
One of the most captivating aspects of Sigiriya is its intricate frescoes, known as the Sigiriya maidens. Painted on the rock face, these ancient masterpieces depict ethereal female figures in vibrant colors. The enigmatic Sigiriya maidens have fascinated art enthusiasts and historians for centuries, offering a glimpse into the artistic talents and cultural nuances of the past.
Mirror Wall and Ancient Graffiti
The Mirror Wall of Sigiriya is a singular example of how history has been preserved. This old wall, which had formerly been polished to a mirror-like gloss, is covered with writings that date back many centuries. This makes the inscriptions an invaluable tool for comprehending the lives of the people who formerly lived in Sigiriya and the historical setting in which they did so. They provide a window into their ideas, feelings, and experiences.
Exploring the ancient graffiti and inscriptions etched upon Sigiriya’s Mirror Wall is like deciphering a time capsule. The delicate inscriptions, ranging from poems to observations, provide a glimpse into the past, allowing us to connect with the people who once called Sigiriya home. Each stroke and symbol carries stories and secrets, awaiting interpretation by curious minds.
The ancient graffiti and inscriptions found on Mirror Wall offer insights into the lives and thoughts of the individuals who sought solace and inspiration within its walls. These snippets of the past allow us to imagine the daily routines, dreams, and aspirations of the people who once inhabited this vibrant ancient city. Mirror Wall bridges the gap between the present and the past, enabling us to connect with those who came before us.
The majestic Lion’s Paw gateway
As visitors approach Sigiriya, they are greeted by the awe-inspiring Lion’s Paw gateway. These colossal lion paws guard the entrance to the rock fortress, exuding a sense of majesty and strength. The Lion’s Paw gateway is a remarkable architectural feature that sets the tone for the breathtaking wonders that await within.
On top of the rock, there is the palace of King Kashayapa around two acres of it. The original royal palace’s foundation is visible on the rock. Additionally, you can see that there are water features like swimming pools, ponds that provide drinking water, and plumbing systems for ponds. There are also checkpoints all around the Sigiriya as well as gathering halls, stone benches, a courtroom, and other structures. This huge royal house, which covered 1.5 acres atop the Sigiriya rock stronghold, is a wonderful monument for illuminating the might of the state and the synergy of human effort.
On the top of the rock is built a huge swimming pool, which is 90 feet long and 68 feet wide. The deep is only 7 feet and the black stone where it is located is excavated and made. It is estimated that 3500 tons of black stone have been removed from the solid stone to make the pool. The other peculiarity here is that there is no water inlet or outlet to this pool. However, during extreme heat, the pool does not completely dry up, and also during extreme rains, the pool does not overflow.
This is considered to be the audience hall belonging to the royal palace complex of King Kasyapa. It is built on a flat rock. The main seat is built and carved using solid rock and the sides around the mandapa are carved too. Small square holes on the surface of the flat rock indicate that the hall had a roof supported by wooden posts. It is believed that this place was used for tasks such as examining the complaints of the countrymen.
Technology Used To Build Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka
Considering the technology possessed by the ancient Sri Lankans, the materials used for the extraction of black stones have been mentioned in the books. Even modern archaeologists have not been able to guess what exactly that ingredient is. By applying these ingredients, the black stones are like butter and it is speculated that the stones have been removed using iron tools. and also It seems that physics principles like pressure and gravity have been used to provide water for water flowers and water pools.
Sigiriya’s Cultural Heritage
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sigiriya Rock and its surroundings have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. This prestigious designation reflects its cultural and historical significance on a global scale.
Sigiriya in Literature and Art
Throughout history, Sigiriya has inspired poets, writers, and artists. It’s a recurring theme in Sri Lankan literature and has even found its way into international art, cementing its place in the collective imagination.
Practical Information for Visitors
Planning a trip to Sigiriya Rock? Here’s what you need to know:
Getting There and Tickets
Sigiriya is accessible from major Sri Lankan cities like Colombo and Kandy. Entry tickets are available at the site and they cost $30, but consider purchasing them in advance to avoid long queues.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Sigiriya is during the dry season from May to September when the weather is pleasant and the gardens are in full bloom.
Tips for a Memorable Trip
- Start your ascent early in the morning to avoid crowds and the scorching midday sun.
- Respect the site’s historical significance and take nothing but photographs.
- Engage with local guides or site guides who can enrich your experience with stories and insights. Site guides will charge you 20 USD a for Sigiriya guiding tour
Exploring the Natural Beauty Surrounding Sigiriya Rock
Surrounded by lush forests, Sigiriya immerses visitors in the unparalleled natural beauty of Sri Lanka. The verdant foliage provides a serene backdrop as wildlife thrives in this vibrant ecosystem. Birdsong fills the air, and glimpses of endemic species enchant nature enthusiasts, creating a harmonious coexistence between the ancient ruins and the surrounding environment.
For those seeking additional panoramic views and natural wonders, Pidurangala Rock stands as a nearby attraction. Rising majestically alongside Sigiriya, Pidurangala offers a different perspective on the landscape, showcasing the interconnectedness of nature and the historical significance of the region. Ascending Pidurangala Rock unveils breathtaking vistas that complement the awe-inspiring beauty of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.
Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka offers an adventure like no other. Its historical significance, natural beauty, and cultural importance make it a must-visit destination. As you climb to the summit and explore the gardens, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, and the memories you create will last a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How long does it take to climb Sigiriya Rock?
The ascent usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, but it can vary depending on your pace and the crowds.
- Are there any restrictions for visitors at Sigiriya?
Yes, visitors are expected to follow certain rules, such as not touching the frescoes and maintaining decorum within the archaeological site.
- Can I visit Sigiriya on a day trip from Colombo?
Yes, it’s possible to visit Sigiriya as a day trip from Colombo, but it will be a long day, so plan accordingly.
- Is Sigiriya suitable for families with children?
While the climb may be challenging for very young children, older kids can enjoy the adventure with proper supervision.
- Are there guided tours available at Sigiriya?
Yes, there are guided tours offered at the site, and it’s recommended to take one to fully appreciate the historical and cultural aspects of Sigiriya rock