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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
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The Historic Importance of Sigiriya, a List – The Almost Eight Wonder of the World

Sigiriya Rock is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. The true wonders of the Rock, however, is lost if you don't know its history. Here's a short, yet essential, guide.


The War

The Story of Sigiriya is reminiscent of the numerous struggles for power that occurred among countless royal families in the ancient world. In this particular story, the bastard son of the reigning king, Kashyapa, seized power by organizing a coop and overthrowing his father. Kashyapa murdered his father, by walling him up alive, and took the throne from his half-brother Moggallana, the rightful heir. Moggallana escaped to South India for his safety and swore to return to avenge his father and take back his kingdom. Fearing his brother's return, Kashyapa moved the capital of the kingdom and his residence from Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya Rock and built a great fortress atop the rock's summit. Moggallana gathered together a massive army in South India and returned to claim his rightful place on the throne in 495 CE. Kashyapa's armies abandoned him during the war and, too proud to surrender, Kashyapa committed suicide by falling on his own sword.


The Frescoes

The famous frescoes of Sigiriya that depict ladies in various poses can be seen about halfway up the rock on its western side. The paintings, though classified as in the Anuradhapura period, are unique in their line and style of application and thus differed from the paintings that were prevalent at the time. It is believed that during the time of Kashyapa, the frescoes were drawn over an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high, and ancient graffiti suggests that over 500 ladies were painted here. Other similar paintings also existed in other parts of the rock face but have since been lost forever.


The Mirror Wall

The Mirror wall is another of Sigiriya's many fascinating features. The wall is made of brick masonry and covered in highly polished white plaster. During King Kashyapa's time, the wall is said to have been so polished that the king could see himself in it. Today, the wall has lost its reflecting qualities and is instead covered in graffiti, some dating as far back as the 8th century CE. Writing on the wall is no longer allowed in an effort to protect the ancient scribblings, some of which include poems about love!


The Gardens

Sigiriya's gardens are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. There are three distinct garden types found on the complex: Water gardens, terraced gardens and boulder gardens. The water gardens typically feature pools and moats surrounding or built alongside plots of land. They are all built symmetrically and are connected with a large artificial lake on the south of the rock and the outer moat found on the west. The pools, fascinatingly, are all linked via underground water conduits that are fed by the lake and connected to the moats; these conduits are still functional today. The boulder gardens are made of several large boulders linked together via winding pathways. Most of these boulders actually used to have buildings or pavilions upon them that were used to attack enemies from. The terraced gardens consist of a series of terraces that rise up to Sigiriya's staircases from the pathways of the boulder gardens.


The Remains

While most of the Citadel's buildings and palaces have been lost to time, Sigiriya still holds onto much of its grandeur, which is apparent the moment you set eyes upon the isolated rock. Visitors can climb to the very top, up ancient staircases and past the famous lion's paws, to see the remains Kashyapa's grand fortress. There are many Sigiriya hotels and resorts in close proximity to the Rock, like Aliya Resort & Spa, where you can stay at. Sigiriya is best climbed during morning hours when the crowds are less and the weather is more pleasant!

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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