The Ancient City of Sigiriya (Lion’s rock) holds the ruins of a former Sinhalese capital, including a rock fortress and palace. At the end of the 5th century, this enormous complex was constructed by Prince Kasyapa.
The garden and palace were built by King Kasyapa. Following King Kasyapa’s death, it was again a monastery complex up to about the 14th century, after which it was abandoned. . The Sigiri inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana in his renowned two-volume work, published by Oxford, Sigiri Graffiti. He also wrote the popular book “Story of Sigiriya”.
The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. Kasyapa murdered his father by walling him alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, Dhatusena’s son by the true queen.
Mogallana fled to India to escape being assassinated by Kasyapa but vowed revenge. In India he raised an army with the intention of returning and retaking the throne of Sri Lanka which he considered was rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallana, Kasyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Mogallana finally arrived and declared war. During the battle Kasyapa’s armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sword. Chronicles and lore say that the battle-elephant on which Kasyapa was mounted changed course to take a strategic advantage, but the army misinterpreted the movement as the King having opted to retreat, prompting the army to abandon the king altogether. Moggallana returned the capital to Anuradapura, converting Sigiriya into a monastery complex.
The beautifully and elaborately landscaped water gardens, contain a complex network of underground water distribution system, which provides water to the Royal baths, the many little moated islands & fountains, some fountains still work during the rainy season! A superb view of the Gardens could be had from halfway up the rock.
Halfway on Sigiriya-rock, you can see very special mural paintings. They are non-religious representations of women, of which some have been preserved very well. Some sources even say that the whole western face of the rock used to be covered with these paintings (of 500 women).
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