Sigiriya or Sinhagiri meaning Lion rock in Sinhalese is an ancient rock fortress located in the Matale District near Dambulla town, Sri Lanka.
It is famous for its palace ruins on top of a massive 200 metres high rock which is surrounded by the remains of gardens, reservoirs and other structures. Sigiriya is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning and it is Sri Lanka’s one of the most visited places.
Here is a list of top 15 incredible facts about Sigirya that will surly amaze you!
Fact #1 According to Dr Mirando Obesekara and Lal Srinivas Sigiriya may be the Alakamandava – City of the Gods that was built up before 50 centuries ago by King Kuvera. The King Kuvera was the half-brother of Ravana (Ravan) as described in the Ramayanaya. During this period Sigiriya was called Cithranakuta
Fact #2 According to the Palm Leaf Book (Puskola Potha) of Ravana Watha the architect of the Sigiriya was Maya Danava. He built up Sigiriya on the instructions given by King Visthavasa (Vishravasamuni) the father of Ravana. During that period the Sigiriya was called Alakamandava
Fact #3 The Chulavamsa (historical record, written in the Pali language, about the monarchs of Sri Lanka) states that during the reign of King Kashyapa (477 to 495 CE), Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress.
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Fact #4 King Kashyapa seized the throne from his father King Dhatusena by immuring him alive in a wall. The coup was assisted by Migara, the King’s nephew and army commander. The rightful heir, Moggallana, fearing for his life, fled to South India but vowed revenge. Afraid of an attack by Moggallana, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya.
Fact #5 In 495 CE, Moggallana came back from south India and defeated Kashyapa and returned the capital to Anuradhapura, converting Sigiriya into a Buddhist monastery.
Fact #6 Sigiriya survived until the 13th or 14th century and after this period, no records are found on Sigiriya until the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was used briefly as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.
Fact #7 In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the British army, first encountered the bush covered summit of Sigiriya while returning from a trip to Polonnuruwa.
Fact #8 H.C.P. Bell was the first archaeologist to conduct extensive research on Sigiriya during the 1890s. The Cultural Triangle Project, launched by the Government of Sri Lanka, focused its attention on Sigiriya in 1982. Archaeological work began on the entire city for the first time under this project. Sigiriya became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.
Fact #9 Sigiriya consists of an ancient citadel built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palaces clings to the slopes below the rocks.
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Fact #10 On the west side of the rock lies a park for the royals. The park contains water-retaining structures, including sophisticated surface hydraulic systems, some of which are working today. The south contains a man-made reservoir. Five gates were placed at entrances. The more elaborate western gate is thought to have been reserved for the royals.
Fact #11 The western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high was almost entirely covered by frescoes, created during the reign of Kasyapa. However, only 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. These pictures have a close resemblance to paintings seen in the Ajanta Caves in India.
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Fact #12 Mirror wall is extraordinary and remarkable features of Sigiriya. The mirror wall was so highly polished that the king could see his reflection while he walked alongside it.
Fact #13 The mirror wall was made of brick masonry and covered in highly polished white plaster. The wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors, some of them dating from as early as the 8th century.
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Fact #14 Senarath Paranavithana the archaeological commissioner of Ceylon, deciphered 685 verses written in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries CE on the mirror wall.
Fact #15 The gardens of the Sigiriya are one of its most important aspects, as they are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three distinct but linked forms: water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens.