North of Dambulla, the spectacular citadel of SIGIRIYA rises sheer and impregnable out of the denuded plains of the dry zone, sitting atop a huge outcrop of gneiss rock towering 200m above the surrounding countryside.
The premier site of the Cultural Triangle, the soaring pillar of rock of doesn’t disappoint, even from afar. For history buffs it has associations with both king and clergy. Art aficionados will appreciate the brilliant frescoes painted high up on its sheer walls. For casual tourists, Sigiriya is simply an awesome sight, with amazing views and impressive archaeological discoveries. Whatever attitude you bring to the rock, you won’t be disappointed. The entire site is quite beautiful, from the lily-pad-covered moats to the quiet corners deep within the water gardens.The shortest-lived but the most extraordinary of all Sri Lanka’s medieval capitals, Sigiriya (“Lion Rock”) was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982 and is the country’s most memorable single attraction – a remarkable archeological site made unforgettable by its dramatic setting.
History of Sigiriya
From a geologic point of view, Sigiriya is the hardened magma plug of an extinct volcano that long ago eroded away. Peppered with natural cave shelters and rock overhangs – supplemented over the centuries by numerous hand-hewn additions and modifications – the rock may have been inhabited in prehistoric times. Popular myth says that the formation served royal and military functions during the reign of King Kassapa (AD 477–495), who allegedly built a garden and palace on the summit. According to this theory, King Kassapa sought out an unassailable new residence after overthrowing and murdering his own father, King Dhatusena of Anuradhapura. After the 14th century the monastery complex was abandoned. British archaeologist HCP Bell discovered the ruins in 1898, which were further excavated by British explorer John Still in 1907.