Sigiriya (Lion’s rock) is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos) or wet plaster paintings, which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kashyapa (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.
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.
Among the most important features of Sigiriya the Frescos are well known. These have been featured in many tourism information literature and other books dealing with Sri Lankan heritage. These frescos are seen on the western side of the rock. According to an inscription found here there were 500 paintings. However, only about 34 paintings have been preserved to this date. Almost all the paintings feature beautiful ladies, most of them with bare breasts accompanied by several companions carrying flower baskets.
The Mirror Wall and spiral stairs leading to the frescoes.
Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of brick masonry wall and covered in highly polished white plaster, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. The mirror wall has verses dating from as early as 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 now has been banned for the protection of old writings of the wall.
Dr Senerath Paranavithana, an eminent Sri Lankan archaeologist, deciphered 685 verses written in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries CE on the mirror wall.
One such poem, roughly translated, in Sinhala is:
“I am Budal [the writer’s name]. Came with hundreds of people 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 а very long time ago.
When you arrive to Sri Lanka. Do not forget to visit this place.