Sigiriya Fortress

Sigiriya Fortress

Sigiriya fortress known as Lion Rock is the 8th world wonder of the world has built up in the late 15 century and located at around 15 Km northeast of Dambulla, Sri Lanka. This ancient place attracts more than thousands of tourists every year. This rock fortress is surrounded by an amazing water garden, a vast garden, and an extensive network of fortifications, canals, alleys, and fountains. Earlier this place was a Buddhist monastery and later King Kashapa restored it as a palace. After the death of his, this place again became a Buddhist monastery 14 century when it was abandoned.

Sigiriya Fortress with gardens
Sigiriya Fortress

King Kashapa was the son of King Dathusena who reign Anuradhapura. Dathusena had two sons, Mogallana (whose heritor to the throne), from the Queen consort and Kashapa, from lesser consort. After Kashapa was known Mogallana declared to the throne he rebelled for it and exile his brother to India. Then he imprisoned his father and order to show the state treasure to Kashapa to avoid death. Dathusena agreed to show it to Kashapa and asked to bring him to Kalawewa Tank that was created by his overseen. Standing in the tank, Dathusena took water to his hands and said to Kashapa this is the treasure I have my son. Then he left his father in a chamber to die.

In meantime, Mogallana vowed to come back to the Sri Lanka to reclaim his inheritance. To avoid the invasion, Kashapa constructed new residence on the top of the Sigiriya Rock (200m height from the base). The entire structure of this fortress was built in seven years from 477 to 485.

After long time the invasion of Mogallana occurred in 491, he came with an army of Tamil Mercenaries from India to fight with Kashapa. During the battle Kashapa killed himself. Finally Mogallana became the king and he went back to the Anuradhapura. According to the order of Mogallana, Sigiriya was handed over back to the Buddhist monks.

You will need 2 to 3 hours to explore the Sigiriya Rock. When you climb Sigiriya you should be calm because there are a lot of hornet nests.

The Lion Staircase

The most Significant feature of the Sigiriya is the lion limestone staircase that is leading to palace garden. The final staircase, its base flanked by two enormous paws carves of lion, leads up across all that remain of a gigntia lion state. The final path to the summit ostensibly led to lion’s mouth. Kashapa may build this to impress the visitors because lion were the symbol of the Sinhalese royalty. At present the only remains of this structure are the two paws of the lion.


The rock was almost covered by frescoes, during the reign of Kashapa. But there only 18 frescoes have survived to today. The females who are depicting in the painting identified as Sigiri Apsara. These pictures are more similar to the paintings in Ajantha caves, India. However lot of these pictures have been erased after the palace converted to monastery.

Amazing painting on Sigiri damsal
Sigiri Frescoes


The garden of Sigiriya has used the oldest landscaped garden in the world. There are three distinct gardens. They are water gardens, terraced gardens, and boulder gardens.

Water gardens are located near to the west gate. The first section comprises four bathing fools. Near the water garden there is a small function garden including a small serpentine “river” and, channels and ponds. These operate on the simple pressure and gravity, and after heavy rains, there is a way to pump out the water from the garden. The astonishment is those are still working after almost 1500 years of disuse. The boulder gardens are closured to the rock and have constructed out using huge boulders.

The Summit

After the circular path up, can see the summit. This was the place that Kashpa’s palace located. But at present there is only the foundation of the building are remained. The main attraction of this place it gives most fabulous views to the down water gardens. This royal palace was built up using red color square bricks at the very highest point of the rock. The upper part of the summit is surrounded by terrace walls, and below it there is a large tank carved out of rock. It’s believe they have used a hydraulic system powered by windmills to transport the water to the summit. This place sho9w the amazing creative architectural and engineering technology that they used.

to show summit
Sigiri fortress aerial view

Mirror Wall

The mirror wall located beyond the Sigiri Damesels. It was made up using porcelain and originally it was coated in highly polish plaster. This wall is covered by graffiti (short poems) called Sigiri Kurutu gee that was written by early visitors about their impression of the Sigiriya. Most of the graffiti have been read and identified by the Prf. Senarath Paranawitharana.

At present, Sigiriya is one of the most famous travel destination and Sigiriya was declared as a World Heitage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Even though Kashapa was not a good king in Sinhalese history this place shows their ancient city planning, Hydraulic technology, defense, Garden landscaping, Paintings, and Engineering that they have used.

See Also

1. Galle Fort

2. Stonehenge

3. Great Barrier Reef

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