Sigiriya rock commonly known by locals as the eighth wonder of the world is an ancient palace and a fortress complex has major archaeological significance. It attracts hundreds and thousands of tourists each year. And possibly one of the most visited tourist destination of the Island.
The rock fortress is located 15 Kms away from Dambulla, one of the cities of cultural triangular of Sri Lanka and is above 370 meters above sea level. It is a massive column rock standing alone nearly 100 meters (330 ft.) high.
It is believed that Sigiriya served as a monastery and according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the Chulvamsa, the rock was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) to build a royal palace. After the death of king it yet again became a Buddhist monastery until 14th century, when it was deserted.
UNESCO has listed Sigiriya as a World Heritage site and one of the best examples of ancient urban planning.
Sigiriya gained international recognition due to the engineering capabilities displayed in its construction, the palace layout, frescoes and the mirror wall.
The fortress complex includes remnants of an ancient palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals and fountains.
The main entrance to the rock is located to the Northern side. It was designed in the form of a huge lion, and its feet can be seen today but unfortunately other parts have been destroyed. The name Sigiriya has originated due to this lion. The term has originated from the Sinhala word, ‘Sihagiri’.
Entire western wall is covered by frescoes, created during the time of King Kasyapa. Eighteen out of them have survived to this day.
They portray nude females and are considered to be either portraits of wives of King Kasyapa or priestess performing religious rituals. Even though the identity is unknown, paintings are unique and celebrating the beauty of females. Frescoes are of incredible historical significance.
Another most remarkable part of Sigiriya is the Mirror wall. It is believed that during king’s reign it was polished comprehensively so that king could witness his reflection. Currently wall is strictly prohibited for public since the wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors to Rock Fortress. The writings of the wall are clear evidence that the Sigiriya have been a popular tourist destination more than a thousand years ago.