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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 24, 2022
Headline for 5 Interesting Facts About Sigiriya – A story of a lion rock
Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Interesting Facts About Sigiriya – A story of a lion rock

As far as tales of betrayal and grand feats go, the story of the Sigiriya rock may be right at the top of interesting ancient palaces with interesting backstories. This rock is found in Sri Lanka and was the home for a king who had made some questionable life choices.


A little background on the lion rock

This rock was actually used as the location for a citadel that could be used by King Kasyapa to rule the land between 477 to 495 CE. It was chosen for its location as one of the biggest viewpoints in the area and due to his fears of being attacked by the rightful heir to the throne, his brother. While this may be reminiscent of an arc on Game of Thrones, upon visiting the site you may wonder how it was even possible for this structure to exist.
One of the key advantages of the rock was that it offered an unobstructed view of the lay of the land so that encroaching armies could be easily spotted and warded off. This citadel is also said to have had the best luxuries that could be afforded to someone during that era, with massive pools and garden areas.


How tall is the rock?

The rock is approximately 200 metres tall but it is impossible to understand how tall the entire monolith may have been with the citadel atop it. Today, visitors will have to walk through winding staircases and climb up to 1200 steps in order to reach the top of the rock and explore the relics that remain.
If you are staying at a Kandalama hotel such as the Heritance Kandalama the staff may be able to help organize a trip first thing in the morning to beat the heat.


Who was King Kasyapa?

The story of King Kasyapa is not simple to unravel. From what is understood by historians, his life was a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. He was born to the non-royal concubine of the king and thus has no claim to the throne. However, he chose to fight against his father, imprison him, kill him and then place him in a wall to be his final resting place.


The history of the rock

It is a common belief that this rock was first used by King Kasyapa, however, the reality is that it was originally used as a monastery by Buddhist monks. Following his death, the rock was once again handed back to monks who used it until its abandonment in the 14th century.


The Mirror Wall of Sigiriya

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Sigiriya rock is that it contained a finely polished rock that was so smooth that the king could see his reflection as he walked by. There is also another interesting set of walls that are believed to have once been 140 metres long and 40 metres high, that was covered with frescoes of women. Moreover, the walls also contained what might have been the only instance of ancient graffiti, and has been analysed by archaeologist and historians alike with great interest.