Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sigiriya Ancient City

Sigiriya Ancient City

                      Sigiriya is an archelological site in North Central Sri Lanka. It contains the ruins of an ancient palace complex, built during the regin of King Kasyapa (477AD - 495 AD). It is one of the 7 world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and is one of it's most popular tourist destinations.

The Sigiriya site consistes of a 180m tall granite rock, whose sides are so steep that at some points the top overhangs the base. At the top of the site there is a palace complex. The ruines of various chambers, stairways and pools can be seen at the top. There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a pair giant pair of lions paws which is infact the ruind of a huge head of a lion whose open mouth served as the entrance to the royal palace. Surrounding the palace complex are the ruins of a garden complex consisting of two moats, various pools.

The History of Sigiriya

Sigiriya may have been inhabited through Pre-Historic times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 3rd century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the Buddhist Sangha. The garden and the palace was built by Kasyapa 477 - 495 AD. Then after Kasyapa's death it was a monastery complex upto about the 14th century after which it was abandoned. The ruins were discovered in 1907 by British Explorer John Still.

Ruins of the Royal Court

The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. who murdered his father by walling him alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallan. Mogallan fled to India to escape being assasinated by Kasyapa but vowed revenge. In India he raised an army with the intention of returning and retaking the throne of Sri Lanka which was rightfully his. Knowing the inevitable return of Mogallan, Kasyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya as a fortress and pleasure palace. Mogallana finally arrived and in the battlefield Kasyapa's armies abandoned him and he committed suicide by falling on his sward. Mogalan returned the capital back to Anuradapura and turned Sigiriya to a Moastory complex.

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