The Lion Rock

The Sigiriya, rock fortress is an archeological wonder.

Some archaeologists believe it was originally a Buddhist monastery, which later became the abode of King Kashyapa.  The massive rock, believed to have been formed by volcanic magma, rises 200 meters above the jungles that surround it.

Kashyapa killed his father to ascend the throne, causing his half-brother, Mugallan, to flee the country circa 477 CE.  Kashayapa was defeated in battle by Mugallan, who returned from India, where he had lived in exile until 495 CE.  Mugallan re-established his kingdom in Anuradhapura, and the rock fortress was given back to the monks.

Reports say the abandoned rock fortress was discovered in 1831 by a member of the 78th Highlanders of the British army, Major Jonathan Forbes while he was returning from a trip to Pollonnaruwa.

Located close to Dambulla in the Central Province, Sigiriya, is one of Sri Lanka’s main tourist attractions.  Famous for the frescoes, the many and varied gardens and a mirror wall, polished so well that the King could see his reflection therein, it is hailed as a place of great ancient urban planning.

Believed to be amongst the oldest landscaped places in the world, Sigiriya boasts of varied gardens - water, terraced, caves and boulders.  The palace was located on the summit of the rock, and the site still shows the ruins of the upper palace, the mirror walls and frescoes, a mid-level terrace, where the Lion Gate can be seen and the lower palaces. Cisterns cut into the rock can be found in the upper palace.  Moats, ramparts and the lower gardens protected the rock palace.

In 1982 UNESCO declared Sigiriya a World Heritage Site.

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