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Sigiriya: The Palace in the Sky

Updated on November 9, 2015
The Fortress at Sigiriya
The Fortress at Sigiriya | Source

Sigiriya:The Mount of Remembrance

One of Sri Lanka's world heritage sites, Sigiriya or Sihigiriya is an ancient rock fortress with a very interesting history. It is sometimes referred to as The Mountain of Remembrance.

Located in the central Matale region of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kaysapa (477-495 AD). This was not only his palace but his fortress.

This Palace in the Sky is uniquely shaped and contains ancient networks of reservoirs, gardens, paintings and terraces.that show how advanced civilization was in Sri Lanka at that time.



Sigiriya in Pictures - Take a peek

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The garden in the Sigiriya hotel where you can see the Sigiriya fortressThe Safari Jeep in SigiriyaThe Top of the Sigiriya FortressAnother picture of the top of SigiriyaThe pond around the Sigiriya fortressThe entrance of the cave used by the monks in the ancient timesSigiriya FortressThe base of the Sigiriya fortressThe garden of the Sigiriya fortressSigiriya Village
The garden in the Sigiriya hotel where you can see the Sigiriya fortress
The garden in the Sigiriya hotel where you can see the Sigiriya fortress | Source
The Safari Jeep in Sigiriya
The Safari Jeep in Sigiriya | Source
The Top of the Sigiriya Fortress
The Top of the Sigiriya Fortress | Source
Another picture of the top of Sigiriya
Another picture of the top of Sigiriya | Source
The pond around the Sigiriya fortress
The pond around the Sigiriya fortress | Source
The entrance of the cave used by the monks in the ancient times
The entrance of the cave used by the monks in the ancient times | Source
Sigiriya Fortress
Sigiriya Fortress | Source
The base of the Sigiriya fortress
The base of the Sigiriya fortress | Source
The garden of the Sigiriya fortress
The garden of the Sigiriya fortress | Source
Sigiriya Village
Sigiriya Village | Source
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Sigiriya: A Blood Stained Story

Religious, historic, intriguing

Sigiriya is said to have been inhabited as early as the prehistoric times. In the 5th century, it was used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. The ancient caves used by the monks as sanctuaries are still there. Then, King Kaysapa built the palace and the elaborate gardens. It was told that King Kaysapa murdered his father, King Dhatusena, because he refused to show him where his wealth was hidden. Instead, he brought Kaysapa to the monk who was his teacher. This infuriated Kaysapa so he had his father, King Dhatusena walled in alive in his tomb.

Kaysapa then took the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, Dhatusena's son by the anointed queen. He wanted to murder him as well but Mogallana escaped.

Vowing revenge, Mogallana fled to India. While there, he raised an army and took the throne back. Kasyapa built this palace so he could easily protect his throne but during the battle with Mogallana, Kassapa's armies abandoned him. He committed suicide giving the throne back to Mogallana who returned the capital to Anuradapura. Sigiriya, once again, became a monastery complex.

Sigiriya: Religious, Historic and Intriguing

Sigiriya
Sigiriya | Source

Sigiriya's Interesting History

Sigiriya is said to have been inhabited as early as the prehistoric times. In the 5th century, it was used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. The ancient caves used by the monks as sanctuaries are still there. Then, King Kaysapa built the palace and the elaborate gardens. It was told that King Kaysapa murdered his father, King Dhatusena, because he refused to show him where his wealth was hidden. Instead, he brought Kaysapa to the monk who was his teacher. This infuriated Kaysapa so he had his father, King Dhatusena walled in alive in his tomb.

Kaysapa then took the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, Dhatusena's son by the anointed queen. He wanted to murder him as well but Mogallana escaped.

Vowing revenge, Mogallana fled to India. While there, he raised an army and took the throne back. Kasyapa built this palace so he could easily protect his throne but during the battle with Mogallana, Kassapa's armies abandoned him. He committed suicide giving the throne back to Mogallana who returned the capital to Anuradapura. Sigiriya, once again, became a monastery complex.

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Sigiriya: 8th Wonder of the World

The Formidable Rock Fortress

Sigiriya must have been quite a formidable fortress. It goes up 600 ft. at its summit. It is difficult to reach the top.

Kaysapa who built this fortress, reinforced the rock's natural defences with broad moats and stone walls. He built an outer moat to flood the entire area between moats upon enemy approach. But as his playground, he built beautiful gardens with a swimming pool for his pleasure. There are wall paintings, some of which you still can see.

Sigiriya - UNESCO World Heritage Site - Watch these videos

The Gardens in Sigiriya - Demonstrations of Ancient Skills

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Kaysapa and his Fortress

Kaysapa also made his fortress a place of pleasure. Its terraced gardens flow down the garden of boulders and down to the gardens with swimming baths, running water, ponds and tropical plants. Discovered only recently, a miniature water garden included winding waterways, cobbled watercourses, marbled floors and an intricate layer of tiled roof buildings. There is a central island surrounded by four L-shaped pools said to have been used for bathing. Gravitational pressure from the artificial lake fed the fountains. Until today, during the rainy season, the water continues to flow in the fountains.

You will need this for your trip to Sigiriya - Get a guidebook on Sri Lanka

Go there early to avoid the sun. Still, you need to have sunscreen on you.

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The Climb in Sigiriya

The Highlights of the Climb

The climb is quite steep but for admirers of ancient paintings, the climb is worth it. I just barely made it but for younger people, it would not be hard. Look at Grumpy slowly coming down in this picture. Looking down just terrified me but I was happy I did it.

Known as the "cloud damsels" because they seem to be floating in the clouds. These frescoes, 23 left now, showed refined skills and love for flowers which must have been in abundance in the palace gardens.

Given the world famous garden of Ceylon (old name for Sri Lanka), it is not surprising to see flowers in the ancient frescoes.

The Lion Rock in Sigiriya - The Lion Takes Vigil

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The Lion Rock

This rock palace was entered via a stone stairway into the lion's mouth and through its throat -- hence Sigiriya's alternative name, The Lion Rock. Only the lion's massive paws remain today, but one can see how gigantic the rest of the carving must have been.

A new stairway has been attached to the side of the rock to allow access to the summit, enabling visitors to stroll around the ruins of the palace and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding villages. But if climbing up is just beyond your desire, stop here and just enjoy the view. Or, take a rest and climb up once you have gathered your strength.

Where to Stay in Sigiriya - Sigiriya Hotel and Sigiriya Village Hotel

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Where to Stay in Sigiriya

For me, the two places to stay are Sigiriya Hotel and Sigiriya Village Hotel. They are right there close to the rock. The Sigiriya Hotel is built right at the foot of the Rock. If you want to enjoy a rural garden with monkeys playing around, go to Sigiriya Village Hotel. It has a good pool, too. Most bungalows have a good view of the Rock from the front steps.

Know more about other world heritage sites

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A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka

If this is an interest, bird sighting, then go to Sri Lanka. You will enjoy so many birds there that maybe you have not yet seen and it is good to know them. This is why you need this book for your trip.

 

Here's a book to bring to your trip to Sigiriya - So many birds to enjoy

This book introduces you to the birds of Sri Lanka. When we went to Sigiriya and joined a Safari, we saw many birds we were not familiar with and wish we know their names as some of them were just beautiful and different.






The Sigiriya Summit - The Top of the Fortress

The summit is around 600 ft. high with an area of around 3 acres with the inner and outer sections converging around a possible water storage area. There is a garden as well. The breathtaking view as far as you can see is worth the climb.

Have you reached the Sigiriya summit?

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Share some of your own experiences in Sigiriya - Did you reach the top?

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    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Susie. It amazed us, too, when we first saw it. Whatever its history is, it was still an amazing achievement.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      That would be a place I would love to visit in Sri Lanka. It amazes me to see what people were able to create with ancient skills.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      Maybe someday I'll get to visit Sri Lanka.

    • Rishi7 profile image

      Rishi7 4 years ago

      once and again we are reminded that Sri Lanka is a very beautiful place...

    • profile image

      Funny_Beekeeper 5 years ago

      End of this year I plan to visit Sri Lanka and Sigiriya will be one of my destination. I can`t wait for this trip! :)

    • profile image

      Negombotown 5 years ago

      Sigiriya is an amazing place .. great info collection nice lens.

      NegomboTown.com

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @indiavacationplans: Thanks for the visit.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Lindrus: Hope you will do so in the future.

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Never been there, but sure would like to! Thanks for a very nice lens!

    • profile image

      indiavacationplans 5 years ago

      Lots of great information here and very nicely presented!

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @hamshi5433: I hope you can visit next time you go back. You have a beautiful country.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @SLPhone: You are right. We were glad we visited this when we could still go up the top.

    • SLPhone profile image

      SLPhone 5 years ago

      We visited Sigiriya few years back. It was a truly amazing experience. It was very hard to describe the feeling you get when you get to the very top of the rock. Amazing artistic and architectural skills on display. Simply a must visit site in Sri Lanka

    • profile image

      hamshi5433 5 years ago

      Oh gosh, when i went on Holidays to Sri-Lanka this summer, I badly wanted to visit this place but due to some circumstances couldn't visit it. From everything I`ve heard and seen about it, Sigiria is one beautiful place on earth! Thank you for creating a lens about it.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @anonymous: It is stunning but you need to be really fit to reach the top even just the Lion Rock.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The Lion rock is absolutely stunning in Sigiriya and the rock fortress an amazing architecture for the protection from savage attacks.

    • aesta1 profile image
      Author

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @TonyPayne: Thank you so much for the blessing. I truly appreciate it.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      This looks like a fascinating place to visit. Thanks for introducing us to it. Blessed.

    • lankanwriter profile image

      lankanwriter 6 years ago

      This is a great lens about Sigiriya,Thanks for featuring my lens here.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens. This looks and sounds like a place I must visit. I haven't yet been to Sri Lanka, but it is high up on the list of places to see.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens and Sigiriya feels like a very spiritual place which I would love to visit! I've shared on my FB profile, thanks!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      This helped my knowledge gap. A new place for me to wonder about.

    • pinkrenegade lm profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 7 years ago

      Such a wonderful lens that teaches people about an amazing place. thanks so much.

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sounds like a fascinating place! Wow, I would love to visit!

    • Bus Stop Toy Shop profile image

      Bus Stop Toy Shop 7 years ago

      I'd love to see it - sounds and looks absolutely fascinating!

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 7 years ago

      This must have been massive when it was still intact! This is very interesting. It kind of reminds me of the broken foot of the Egyptian statue on LOST. Great work!

    • profile image

      nort43 7 years ago

      @julieannbrady: I have never heard of this before. With SL opening up, I hope we can list more things for us tourists to visit. Well done.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      OMG, that lion rock is quite a compelling sight to behold. Such interesting history!