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|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||ii, iii, iv|
|Inscription||1982 (6th Session)|
Sigiriya (Lion Rock, Sinhalese - සීගිරිය, pronounced see-gee-REE-yah) is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa the site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
The environment around Sigiriya may have been inhabited since prehistoric times. There is clear evidence that the many rock shelters and caves in the vicinity were occupied by Buddhist monks and ascetics from as early as the 3rd century BC.
In AD477, prince Kashyapa seized the throne from King Dhatusena, following a coup assisted by Migara, the king’s nephew and army commander. Kashyapa, the king’s son by a non-royal consort, usurped the throne from the rightful heir, Moggallana, who fled to South India. Fearing an attack from Moggallana, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the more secure Sigiriya. During King Kashyapa’s reign (477 to 495), Sigiriya was developed into a complex city and fortress. Most of the elaborate constructions on the rock summit and around it, including defensive structures, palaces, and gardens, date back to this period.
Kashyapa was defeated in 495 by Moggallana, who moved the capital again to Anuradhapura. Sigiriya was then turned into a Buddhist monastery, which lasted until the 13th or 14th century. After this period, no records are found on Sigiriya until the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was used briefly as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.
The Culavamsa describes King Kashyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. Kashyapa murdered his father by walling him up alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, Dhatusena's son by the true queen. Mogallana fled to India to escape being assassinated by Kashyapa but vowed revenge. In India he raised an army with the intention of returning and retaking the throne of Sri Lanka which he considered to be rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallana, Kashyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Mogallana finally arrived and declared war. During the battle Kashyapa's armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sword.
Chronicles and lore say that the battle-elephant on which Kashyapa was mounted changed course to take a strategic advantage, but the army misinterpreted the movement as the King having opted to retreat, prompting the army to abandon the king altogether. It is said that being too proud to surrender he took his dagger from his waistband, cut his throat, raised the dagger proudly, sheathed it, and fell dead. Moggallana returned the capital to Anuradapura, converting Sigiriya into a monastery complex.
Alternative stories have the primary builder of Sigiriya as King Dhatusena, with Kashyapa finishing the work in honour of his father. Still other stories have Kashyapa as a playboy king, with Sigiriya a pleasure palace. Even Kashyapa's eventual fate is uncertain. In some versions he is assassinated by poison administered by a concubine; in others he cuts his own throat when isolated in his final battle. Still further interpretations have the site as the work of a Buddhist community, with no military function at all. This site may have been important in the competition between the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions in ancient Sri Lanka.
The earliest evidence of human habitation at Sigiriya was found from the Aligala rock shelter to the east of Sigiriya rock, indicating that the area was occupied nearly five thousand years ago during the Mesolithic Period.
Buddhist monastic settlements were established in the western and northern slopes of the boulder-strewn hills surrounding the Sigiriya rock, during the 3rd century BC. Several rock shelters or caves were created during this period. These shelters were made under large boulders, with carved drip ledges around the cave mouths. Rock inscriptions are carved near the drip ledges on many of the shelters, recording the donation of the shelters to the Buddhist monastic order as residences. These were made within the period between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD.
Archaeological remains and features 
In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British army, while returning on horseback from a trip to Pollonnuruwa, came across the "bush covered summit of Sigiriya". Sigiriya came to the attention of antiquarians and, later, archaeologists. Archaeological work at Sigiriya began on a small scale in the 1890s. H.C.P. Bell was the first archaeologist to conduct extensive research on Sigiriya. The Cultural Triangle Project, launched by the Government of Sri Lanka, focused its attention on Sigiriya in 1982. Archaeological work began on the entire city for the first time under this project. There was a sculpted lion's head above the legs and paws flanking the entrance, but the head broke down many years ago.
Sigiriya consists of an ancient castle built by King Kasiappan during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site has the remains 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 with its frescoes, the lower palace that clings to the slopes below the rock, and the moats, walls, and gardens that extend for some hundreds of metres out from the base of the rock.
The site is both a palace and a fortress. Despite its age, the splendour of the palace still furnishes a stunning insight into the ingenuity and creativity of its builders. The upper palace on the top of the rock includes cisterns cut into the rock that still retain water. The moats and walls that surround the lower palace are still exquisitely beautiful.
Site plan 
Sigiriya is considered one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, and the site plan is considered very elaborate and imaginative. The plan combined concepts of symmetry and asymmetry to intentionally interlock the man-made geometrical and natural forms of the surroundings. On the west side of the rock lies a park for the royals, laid out on a symmetrical plan; the park contains water-retaining structures, including sophisticated surface/subsurface hydraulic systems, some of which are working even today. The south contains a man-made reservoir; these were extensively used from the previous capital of the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Five gates were placed at entrances. The more elaborate western gate is thought to have been reserved for the royals.
John Still in 1907 suggested, "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery... the largest picture in the world perhaps". The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, covering an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, many more are lost forever, having been wiped out when the Palace once more became a monastery − so that they would not disturb meditation. Some more frescoes, different from the popular collection, can be seen elsewhere on the rock surface, for example on the surface of the location called the "Cobra Hood Cave".
Although the frescoes are classified as in the Anuradhapura period, the painting style is considered unique; the line and style of application of the paintings differing from Anuradhapura paintings. The lines are painted in a form which enhances the sense of volume of the figures. The paint has been applied in sweeping strokes, using more pressure on one side, giving the effect of a deeper colour tone towards the edge. Other paintings of the Anuradhapura period contain similar approaches to painting, but do not have the sketchy lines of the Sigiriya style, having a distinct artists' boundary line. The true identity of the ladies in these paintings still have not been confirmed. There are various ideas about their identity. Some believe that they are the wives of the king while some think that they are women taking part in religious observances. These pictures have a close resemblance to some of the paintings seen in the Ajanta caves in India
The Mirror Wall 
Originally this wall was so well polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of a kind of porcelain, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. Well preserved, the mirror wall has verses dating from the 8th century. People of all types wrote on the wall, on varying subjects such as love, irony, and experiences of all sorts. Further writing on the mirror wall has now been banned.
One such poem in Sinhala is:
- "බුදල්මි. සියොවැ ආමි. සිගිරි බැලිමි. බැලු බැලු බොහො දනා ගී ලීලුයෙන් නොලීමි."
The rough translation is: "I am Budal [the writer's name]. (I) Came alone to see Sigiriya. Since all the others wrote poems, I did not!" He has left an important record that Sigiriya was visited by people beginning a very long time ago. Its beauty and majestic appearance made people stand in awe of the technology and skills required to build such a place.
The gardens 
The Gardens of the Sigiriya city are one of the most important aspects of the site, as it is among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three distinct but linked forms: water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens.
The water gardens 
The water gardens can be seen in the central section of the western precinct. Three principal gardens are found here. The first garden consists of a plot surrounded by water. It is connected to the main precinct using four causeways, with gateways placed at the head of each causeway. This garden is built according to an ancient garden form known as char bagh, and is one of the oldest surviving models of this form.
The second contains two long, deep pools set on either side of the path. Two shallow, serpentine streams lead to these pools. Fountains made of circular limestone plates are placed here. Underground water conduits supply water to these fountains which are still functional, especially during the rainy season. Two large islands are located on either side of the second water garden. Summer palaces are built on the flattened surfaces of these islands. Two more islands are located farther to the north and the south. These islands are built in a manner similar to the island in the first water garden.
The third garden is situated on a higher level than the other two. It contains a large, octagonal pool with a raised podium on its northeast corner. The large brick and stone wall of the citadel is on the eastern edge of this garden.
The water gardens are built symmetrically on an east-west axis. They are connected with the outer moat on the west and the large artificial lake to the south of the Sigiriya rock. All the pools are also interlinked using an underground conduit network fed by the lake, and connected to the moats. A miniature water garden is located to the west of the first water garden, consisting of several small pools and watercourses. This recently discovered smaller garden appears to have been built after the Kashyapan period, possibly between the 10th and 13th centuries.
The boulder gardens 
The boulder gardens consist of several large boulders linked by winding pathways. The gardens extend from the northern slopes to the southern slopes of the hills at the foot of Sigiriya rock. Most of these boulders had a building or pavilion upon them; there are cuttings that were used as footings for brick walls and beams.it is a vital component of the site.
The terraced gardens 
The terraced gardens are formed from the natural hill at the base of the Sigiriya rock. A series of terraces rises from the pathways of the boulder garden to the staircases on the rock. These have been created by the construction of brick walls, and are located in a roughly concentric plan around the rock. The path through the terraced gardens is formed by a limestone staircase. From this staircase, there is a covered path on the side of the rock, leading to the uppermost terrace where the lion staircase is situated.
Image gallery 
Inner Moat 
Pavilion Gardens 
Fountain Gardens 
Boulder Gardens 
Lion Staircase 
The entrance to the palace on top of the rock was through a gatehouse shaped in the form of a massive lion. The paws and stairs are still visible today
Mirror Wall 
Top view of the rock
Top of the Rock 
- The video for the 1982 single Save a Prayer by Duran Duran was filmed primarily at Sigiriya.
- Sigiriya is used as the location of many of the events in the science-fiction novel The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, although Clarke changed the name to Yakkagala ("Demon Rock") in the book.
See also 
- Ponnamperuma, Senani (2013). The Story of Sigiriya. Panique Pty Ltd. ISBN 9780987345110.
- Bandaranayake, Senake (2005). Sigiirya City Palace Gardens Monasteries Painting. Central Cultural Fund. ISBN 9556311469 Check
- 2011 Research & International Relations Division Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Annual Statistical Report. Colombo: Research & International Relations Division. 2011. p. 58.
- Geiger, Wilhelm. Culavamsa Being The More Recent Part Of Mahavamsa 2 Vols, Ch 39. 1929
- "The Sigiriya Story". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 2006-11-24.
- Forbes, Jonathan. Eleven Years in Ceylon. London: Richard Benley, 1841.
- "Sri Lanka: Slip Into Antiquity". The Epoch Times. Retrieved 2005-05-04.
- "Sigiriya - The fortress in the sky". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 2004-10-10.
- "Sigiriya". BuddhaNet. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "Sigiriya: the most spectacular site in South Asia". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 2006-08-03.
- Senake Bandaranayake and Madhyama Saṃskr̥tika Aramudala. Sigriya. 2005, page 38
- Buddhist Art Frontline Magazine May 13–26, 1989
- Ponnamperuma, Senani. "About Sigiriya". The Story of Sigiriya. Panique Pty Ltd. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
Further reading 
- The Story of Sigiriya, by Senani Ponnamperuma (ISBN 978-0987345110; ISBN 978-0987345141;).
- Sigiriya, by Senake Bandaranayake (ISBN 978-9556131116).
- Story of Sigiriya, by Professor Senerath Paranavitana.
- "The Mystique of Sigiriya: Whispers of the Mirror Wall". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sigiriya|
- Sigiriya Location, Sri Lanka
- Official UNESCO website entry
- The Sigiriya Museum
- Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka
- Mount of Remembrance