At an altitude of 200 meters, on the top of a massive column of rock lie the magnificent ancient ruins of a temple reaching for the stars.
Located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambullain in Sri Lanka lie the enigmatic ruins of an ancient rock fortress. Near-vertical walls soar to a flat-topped summit that is said to house the ruins of an ancient civilization, thought to be once the epicenter of the short-lived kingdom of Kassapa.
According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, it is believed to have been built by King Kasyapa, between 477 – 495 CE.
Erected on the massive rock, the temple and its surroundings were meticulously decorated with colorful frescoes in the distant past.
The history of the temple and the times that predate it are surrounded by rich history and magnificent ancient legends.
Said to be the Alakamandava, or the City of the Gods built up before 50 centuries ago by King Kubera who was the half-brother of Ravana (Ravan) as described in the Ramayanaya, Lal Sirinivas and Mirando Obesekara described Sigiriya as a post-historical archeology turning point of Ravana.
Despite having a rich history dating back to around 495 CE, researchers have found evidence of human occupation nearly five thousand years ago during the Mesolithic Period.
Today’s tourists are welcomed by enormous lion paws about halfway up the side of this rock. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock.
As noted by geologists, the Sigiriya rock is a remnant of an eruption of hardened magma of an extinct and long-eroded volcano.
It stands out above the surrounding plain, visible in kilometers from all directions.
The temple was built on a surface that according to many appears to have been cut clean.
Standing as evidence of ancient man’s ingenuity, the ancient rock fortress offers a rich history with is more than enough to impress every single visitor, offering a breathtaking view of the ingenuity and creativity of the builders.
The upper palace, located on top of the rock, still has cisterns cut into the rock, where you can still find water.
The pits and walls that surround the lower palace are richly ornamented.
After the death of its builder, King Kasyapa, it remained a monastic complex until the fourteenth century, after which it was entirely abandoned.
In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British army, while returning on horseback from a trip to Pollonnuruwa, encountered the “bush covered summit of Sigiriya”.
The Sigiri inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologist Paranavithana who published a renowned work in two volumes, in Oxford, known as “Sigiri glyphs”.
“I am Budal [the writer’s name]. Came with hundreds of people to see Sigiriya. Since all the others wrote poems, I did not!”
Paranavithana wrote the popular book “History of Sigiriya”.
Featured image credit: http://tripland.info