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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Some Mysterious Facts about Sigiriya – A Marvel from the Ancient World
Joanna James Joanna James
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Some Mysterious Facts about Sigiriya – A Marvel from the Ancient World

The Lions Rock Fortress of Sigiriya is a UNESCO Heritage Site and tipped to be the eighth wonder of the world. The place was a sanctuary for a king living in fear, around which many mysteries abound.


The Purpose of Sigiriya throughout Time

Ancient chronicles state King Kashyapa (A.D. 478 to A.D 496) hid himself at Sigiriya through fear of retaliation for his actions. Called Sihagiri in the old manuscripts, Kashyapa is mentioned as living in his lavish fortress like a god. However, in recent years these scripts deciphered by a Sri Lankan scholar, have been disputed and new versions introduced about the creation of the Lions Rock Fortress.


Other Theories Regarding the Lion Rock

New theories suggest the rock was developed and created by the Pabbata-Raja kings as a place for various rituals. Festivals and worship sessions invoking rain were believed to have been performed there, as well as, fertility rituals. The Mahavamsa, regarded as the oldest chronicle of Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has totally purged King Kashyapa and his connections to Sigiriya from its records; whether this was an act connected to Kashyapa's dark deeds still remains a mystery.


The Harem and Frescos

The Sigiriya Frescoes are famous the world over, and although totally obliterated from the Mahavamsa, the frescoes are directly linked to King Kashyapa and his time in Sigiriya. If you are a guest at Water Garden Sigiriya, staring at the looming sight of Sigiriya rock over the forest cover, remember the frescoes are within easy reach and well worth exploring. These murals consist of beautiful damsels categorised as the 'dark ones' and 'fair ones', bare chested and holding water lilies in their hands, it is believed that there were 500 frescoes at one time, although only 20 are now discernible. Believed to have been created for a lonely king who loved all things beautiful, these women are said to be from Kashyapa's harem. Although, again, scholars claim to see no evidence the Lion Rock, Sigiriya was ever a palace or meditation centre.


Sigiriya Gardens are a Recent Discovery

When exploring Sigiriya one of the first sights is of the well-manicured gardens. The Culavamsa does not chronicle, nor did archaeologist know of the Sigiriya gardens, until the 1980's when excavation projects unearthed the remains of a well-maintained and aesthetic garden layout; which has been lovingly restored. No substantial evidence is available to connect Kashyapa to the gardens, which despite claims, are not one of the oldest landscaped grounds in history. There are theories to suggest the artistic hand behind the creation of the gardens, borrowed ideas from the landscaped estates of palaces from India's Gupta Period (A.D.320 to A.D.600) These gardens in Delhi, are recorded as being the oldest in Asia, after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


Evidence the Place was a Monastery Before a Palace

Although some claims seem to dispute Sigiriya ever being a palace or meditation centre, there are some points that compound the theory the rock was a monastery long before the arrival of Kashyapa. Walk around and you will discover a pool designed to collect rainwater, an exotic cobra hooded cave and seats for meditation. There is also a drip ledge believed to have been erected in the 3rd century to prevent the cobra cave from getting wet, while a stupa there, gives strong reason to believe Sigiriya Rock was a Buddhist monastery at one time.

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