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Author Topic: Sigiriya  (Read 621 times)
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« on: May 20, 2011, 06:07:24 pm »

It was in the Dambulla district that a massive rock complex was cleared to construct a
fortress palace. The narration of this saga revolves around an enormous 600-foot high rock,
after it became the seat of an ancient Sinhalese king known as Kasyapa. So it was king
Kasyapa my father who brought me to this world. This great rock was carved in the shape
of a crouching lion. some of the lion’s paws were built of stone and bound to the floor. The
main palace is situated on the back of the lion. It was from the huge crouching lion through
whose throat one enters the final ascent.

My father had to take a large labour force to build this massive structure which took seven
years to complete because of its immensity. This Lion Rock was the name of Sigiriya. The
long, rising gallery led up to the rock face which was shaped in the form of a lion, made of
brick and visible for miles. the stairway to the palace on the summit rose from inside the
body of the colossal lion. The rock is enclosed on three sides by a rampart with a protective
moat. to the south-east was a tank.

According to ancient historical records of Sri Lanka, the Mahawamsa 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. 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 rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallana, my
father, king Kasyapa built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and as a
pleasure palace. This fortress consists of an upper palace sited on the flat top of the rock, a
mid-level terrace that includes the lion gate and the mirror wall.

This still encloses the gallery which leads to the final terrace and is named after its smooth
glittering surface; a durable glaze which is believed was contrived of lime, egg white and
wild honey. It has withstood the elements for many centuries. This smooth-wall proved an
irresistible log book about visitors, over a period of nearly six centuries and recorded their
reactions at the sight of the beautiful women painted on the rock-face above.

These frescoes are similar in style to those of the contemporary Ajantha cave paintings in
India, and the painting style is considered unique. Only a few of these bewitching figures
have survived to this day. They have been described as cloud maidens and lightning
princesses. Their sensual beauty is most striking. Some have a golden complexion while
others are dark.
They are graceful, be-jewelled and lotus decked some are bare-bosomed, while others are

clad in diaphanous clothes. the access to the top of the rock today is by way of steep steps.
The palace ruins, and baths and stone seats remain. Most rewarding is the magnificent
panorama the view affords.

To describe Sigiriya as a “fortress in the sky” is telling only half the story. Its architectural,
artistic and literary value is inestimable.

I am proud my name has spread around the world
as a tourist attraction and brings millions of people to this island, mainly due to my
impressive personality.

Sunday Observer
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