Main menu

From the book "Straight to the South", part 1 "Expedition to the heart of Sri Lanka", episode 5.

09.03.2018 7°57'27.89"N 80°45'36.66"E

It is time to speak of Sigiriya, the last capital of the ancient state of Sri Lanka, we spent our last day in Sri Lanka here. The perimeter of the city, which arose near the Royal residence (Lion Rock), is protected by wide ditches filled with water, perfectly preserved to this day. They also played the role of the irrigation system: the population of a large city needed water and the surrounding fields also should be irrigated.

Magnificent gardens grew there, where fountains gushed forth inside. Long time ago a dense city buildings were there on this huge territory once, archaeologists continue to find evidence of this to this day.

We went through the main entrance, moving to the mountain on the main Royal road.

The history of Sigiriya is the most intriguing page in the fate of the Lankan state. This fortress was erected in the last quarter of the V century AD by the king Kashyapa I. He was the eldest son of king Datatune but he was born by concubine and had no right to the throne, in contrast to the next Royal son from the lawful wife - the Prince Moggallana. Kashyapa was not satisfied with this status, he conspired with the chief army commander and usurped power, and to defend against the revenge of competitors and enemies he ordered to build halls on a plateau on top of an impregnable rock.

The fate of Kashyapa was very dramatic. He as rebellious son sought the treasures of his father who was in dungeon. Once under torture, the father agreed to give them, for what he asked to deliver him on the shore of reservoir established by his command. Deciding that values buried there, Kashyapa willingly did it. But the former king only plunged his hands into the water, saying: "This is my only treasure!". Then the son killed dad, but he lived not long too: an exiled prince Moggallana has enlisted the support of influential rulers of South India and arrived in Sigiriya in head of a huge Tamil troops to recover his rights. Deciding boldly meet the enemy face to face, Kasyapa left the fortress, he sat on a war elephant and started atack ahead of his army! But the he was not lucky: the elephant wanted to drink and ran not forward but backward, to the nearest pond. The army, seeing that the commander retreats, followed him. The result is: Kashyapa was defeated and feeling helplessness and despair stabbed himself in the chest with a sword, and Sigiriya and wholly Kingdom was looted and fell into disrepair. The betrayal and greed of the ruler destroyed the country..


At the foot of the Lion Rock


The beginning of the rise


Room in the grotto under the rock. Perhaps this is the mok's rooml - Buddhist monastery functioned here before and after the rule of Kashyapa.


West view of the Royal road


Foundations of premises for servants and guards on the Western slope of the rock

There is an intermediate platform where you can rest on the way up. A further way is covered by the Lions Gate.

There are only the paws survived of the giant figure of a lion carved into the rock, whose mouth long ago served as the entrance to the fortress.

There is a legend that king Kashyapa put this fierce predator at the entrance to the fortress in fear of Ravana, the former mythical ruler of Sri Lanka, whose residence according to legend was the mountain Sigiriya. Kashyapa believed that when Ravana returned, he would see that the plateau was occupied by his Palace, and the monstrous animal would not allow God to claim his former place.

A steep staircase goes from the gate up to the top. It is impossible not to wonder how the builders of those times lifted by it necessary materials..

Finally we reach the plateau. There are four palaces here directed to sides of the world. According to the description of travelers, they were built of marble and surrounded by gardens and ponds, their pediments were incrusted with precious stones.

Brick walls with narrow platforms for guards were build on the edges of the cliff, where guards could not sleep, because risk of fall. Many procured stones always were stored on the edge of a cliff for the case of enemy invasion.


View from plateau to North to Pidurangala mountain

Stone Royal throne with a sign on it "do not sit down!". To avoid of desecration, you know.. :)

It is installed near the largest pond on the territory of the Palace, it is the main tank for the accumulation of fresh water. They say the king bathed in it with his wives and concubines - such luxury was available only for the really mighty lord in the first millennium BC..

There is a hut on the southern part of the plateau in which people live, engaged in the reconstruction of old palaces with a dream to revive their former splendor. I think they has work here (looking at the scale of the problem) for dozens of years.. :)

We descend from the Lion Gate down the stairs.

In order to cut the way, it is better to go a little South-West along the foot to the parking tourist buses, and then move South to the main road.

This trail runs through the shady stone gardens of Sigiriya, where the king basked in the coolness during hot day time. There are stone-paved trails in the jumble of huge boulders, steps for pass and the water tanks are carved here and you can see some fragments of buildings under the stone canopies..



There is a room for the audience with the Royal throne and seats for the nobles, it was equipped on the flat surface of the huge stone..

They say that the biography of Kashyapa cuted on the roof under the boulder named "hood of cobra", but we could not see it :(

Here the protected area of the complex ends. Souvenirs merchants are appearing…

Snake charmer..

Car parking for tourists.

Here cheeky monkeys took out our ice cream! He invited the rest of the tribe here, but we already had nothing to eat.. :)

And at the exit to the main road a surprise were waiting for us: we saw a rare bird on the tree – Kingfisher - a kind of gift at the end..

That's all about how we saw the Lion Rock. Now look at our movie about it.


Next morning we continued our journey, the stories about it are ahead.

< episode 4

episode 6 >