Sigiriya, the ‘Lion Rock’, is a fortress built by King Kassapa I (477-495 A.D.) on a rock 200 metres in height. Visible for miles around this marvellous World Heritage Site holds the remains of an upper palace on the top of the rock, a mid level terrace with a Gate carrying a Lion’s paw and the mirror wall with frescoes of beautiful ‘Sigiri maidens’ and a lower palace on the slopes below the rock. Surrounding the base of the rock one finds the moats, walls and gardens extending to a large distance. Sigiriya in brief holds the ruins of the capital built by King Kassapa I. After the demise of Kassapa it was converted to a monastery complex which was abandoned around the 14th century, its ruins being later discovered by the British explorer John Still in 1907.
Gazing at the rock from its bottom one would think it beyond one’s imagination to climb the steep slopes and reach the summit. However, rocky steps with several landings on the slopes of the rock provide access to the summit nearly one and quarter hectares wide. On the way to the summit, one comes across the world famous charming frescoes which are a feast to the eye keeping visitors engrossed in the minute details of these painted figures even after centuries.
It is a known fact that some visitors make a trip to Sri Lanka just to visit Sigiriya and enjoy this experience of a life time. It is a stately and majestic site and one cannot rush through the climb. Be ready to spend a whole day enjoying the frescoes, relaxing at the Lion’s paw, climbing to the summit, and then slowly winding down the steps back, to enjoy a walk at the sprawling Sigiriya gardens, not forgetting the herbal garden.
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