The ancient kingdom built on a rock – Sigiriya

Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya rock stands 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles. Its view astonishes the visitors with the unique harmony between the nature and human imagination. The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains.

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Since 3th century BC the rocky plateau of Sigiriya served as a monastery. In the second half of the 5th century King Kasyapa decided to construct a royal residence here. After his death Sigiriya again became a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century, when it was abandoned.

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Sigiriya Lion’s Claws

The main entrance is located in the northern side of the rock. It was designed in the form of a huge stone lion, whose feet have survived up to today but the upper parts of the body were destroyed.

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Sigiriya Frescoes

The western wall of Sigiriya was almost entirely covered by frescoes, created during the reign of Kasyapa. Eighteen frescoes have survived to this day. The frescoes are depicting nude females and are considered to be either the portraits of Kasyapa’s wives and concubines or priestess performing religious rituals.

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Sigiriya Mirros Wall

One of the most striking features of Sigiriya is its Mirror wall. In the old days it was polished so thoroughly that the king could see his reflection in it. The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya. The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century.

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Sigiria Ancient Water Garden

The buildings and gardens of Sigiriya show that the creators of this amazing architectural monument used unique and creative technical skills and technologies. The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Sigiriya has water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and also terraced gardens. They are located in the western part of the rock and are with a complex hydraulic system, which consists of canals, locks, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, as well as surface and underground water pumps.

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Getting there

Sigiriya is located 175 kilometers north-east of Colombo – the capital of the island, and 10 kilometers from the highway Ambepussa – Kurunegala – Trincomale, located between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane. To get there by car you must take the track A1 or A6. The best way to get there by public transportation is to take a bus from Dambulla. There is a bus every 30 minutes starting from 7AM. The trip will take approximately 40 minutes.

A staircase of 1250 steps is leading to the highest point of Sigiriya. The way from the bottom to the top lasts approximately 2 hours. Because of the high temperatures during the day it is better to visit the place in the morning. Wear comfortable clothing, take water with you and don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen.

Foreigners will have to pay $30 USD. This will also grant access to the Sigiriya museum. The ancient site is open every day from 7:00AM to 5:30PM (last entrance at 5:00PM).

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