The Lion Platform and Summit – Sigiriya
Continuing up the rock, a flight of limestone steps climbs steeply up to the Lion Platform, a large spur projecting from the north side of the rock, just below the summit . From here, a final staircase, its base flanked by two enormous
paws carved out of the rock, leads up across all that remains of a gigantic lion statue – the final path to the summit apparently led directly into its mouth. Visitors to Kassapa were, one imagines, suitably impressed by this gigantic conceit and by the symbolism – lions were the most important emblem of Sinhalese royalty, and the beast’s size was presumably meant to reflect Kassapa’s prestige and buttress his questionable legitimacy to the throne.
The wire-mesh cages on the Lion Platform were built as refuges in the event of bee attacks – you can see bees’ nests
clinging to the underside of the rock overhang above, to the left of the stairs. The whole section of rock-face above is scored with countless notches and grooves which once supported steps up to the summit.
After the tortuous path up, the summit seems huge. This was the site of Kassapa’s palace, and almost the entire area was originally covered with buildings. Only the foundations now remain, though, and it’s difficult to make much sense of it all – the main attraction is the fabulous views down to the Water Gardens and out over the surrounding countryside. The Royal Palace itself is now just a plain, square brick platform at the very highest point of the rock. The upper
section is enclosed by steep terraced walls, below which is a large tank cut out of the solid roc . it’s thought that water was channelled to the summit using an ingenious hydraulic system powered by windmills.
Below here a series of four further terraces, perhaps originally gardens, tumble down to the lower edge of the summit above Sigiriya Wewa.
The path down takes you along a slightly different route – you should end up going right past the Cobra Hood Cave, if you missed it earlier, before exiting the site to the south