Sigiriya (Sinhagiri) as it is called is a magnificent place in the mid of Sri Lanka Island. According to ancient inscriptions found in caves the rock block was used by Buddhist monks as a place of religious retreat far back as the third century BC.
Today we are heading to that georgeous ancient palace in Central close to Dambulla in the North Matale region. Sigiriya was built by King Kassapa, son of Sinhalese King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura and brother of Mogallana. When Kasappa heard that his brother Mogallana was declared heir to the throne he rebelled and imprisoned his father King Dhatusena and sent his brother Mogallana into exile to India.
Since he was afraid of his father’s and brother’s revenge he escaped to this special place and built up the Sigiriya Palace , Lion Rock in 477 – 495 to hide himself and protect himself from any attacks of the family and enemies. Sigiriya was designed as a Palace of Pleasure as well as an unbeatable fortress.
In one of the attacks to Sigiriya Palace King Kassapa was forced to retreat and feared capture and death so that he killed himself. The era of Sigiriya came to an end until it was rediscovered by the British in 1828.
Sigiriya Palace actually is built on a monolithic vertical granite block pillar shaped in form of a monumental lion on several acres of rock, 370 m high in mid of a huge jungle area.
It is an awesome Sky Palace.
Sigiriya was the centre of the short- lived kingdom of King Kasappa and then laid hidden in this wild forest for more then 1500 years. In 1982 Sigiriya Palace was accepted as a Unesco World Heritage site.
We are walking a long way through the Royal Water Garden, straight to the rock and watching the stairs and the huge block that we need to climb up in front of us. It is really impressive and I am curious about the view that we will have on top of the rock. Today it is a little cloudy – let us see whether we have some chance when we are up.
While climbing up this enormous archeological place I have the history of King Kassapa and his Empire in mind.
I am also not sure whether I really can make it till the top of the rock since the stairs are very steep, narrow, wet and slippery since it is a little bit raining.
We need to be careful not to slip and hurt ourselves. Step by step we move forward and somehow this mystical place takes you into its own ban.
How did they built this palace upon this steep rock, how did they live here and what kind of a fear could lead the King to escape to this unique place…
While walking up the stairs which become more and more narrow, little monkeys are jumping around. Actually they are the real masters of this awesome place as I believe that they have lived here forever and know each and every corner…
When we reach out to the first half of the rock we can also see some rock frescoes painted with some apsara dancers and semi naked nymphs – unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures.
A little further we arrive at the Middle Terrace of the Palace and the so – called Mirror Wall built in this rock which you are not allowed to touch.
We walk further at the side of a very steep rock and then climb up in a kind of windy spiral metal staircase for not falling down. The walk upside the rock is not that easy especially during the rain.
Finally we arrive at the Lions Paws which are the single remains of the Lion who is the symbol of Sigiriya and even the symbol of Sri Lanka’s flag by today.
What a magnificent entrance of the Palace in that height.
The Lion staircase is a tile covered walkway that rises out of the mouth of the beast and is built out of bricks and limestone and is the location where the name of Sigiriya is coming from.
Between the lions paws we do the final ascent up the stairs to the very top to the Sigiriya Palace and its Terrace Gardens.
Arriving there you have a magnificent 360 degree view to the ruins of the palace and to the huge jungle around and the water gardens. There are a lot of exotic animals especially birds living down in that area.
In the ruins of the palace we recognize an ancient pool over here – it looks really georgeous…However, shortly after having arrived at the top a very heavy rain and strong wind begins. In a hurry we need to jump down steep stairs as the wind is going to blow us away.
While running down, the rain is so strong that you even cannot see your way.
We arrive downstairs totally wet but even this was a very unique experience and it gives us the feeling that the Lion Rock wants to keep its secrets and does not want to reveal too much of its history and blowing beauty.
Having had a wonderful experience in this special region we head back to our hotel in Anuradhapura. Sigiriya Palace is for sure the most exciting and special place that concerns archeology, art and landscape in Sri Lanka which everybody needs to visit when travelling to Sri Lanka Island.