Sigiriya Lion Rock, the eighth wonder of the world

The place that most impressed me in Sri Lanka was Sigiriya, so called "Lion's Rock". Looking at this 180-meter high cliff to which 1200 steps lead one can't believe that once there was the royal residence up there. The idea of ​​building the palace in such an unusual place came to the king Kassapa, who lived in the 5th century. He was the eldest son of King Dhatusena and his wife, a commoner. Therefore, the throne was to inherit his other son, though younger, but from his wife of royal blood. That prospect did not satisfy Kassapa and he just decided to seize power by force. After doing so, he put his father in prison, but not for long - rumors that the former king had hidden treasures somewhere, did not give Kassapa rest.
He ordered father to show him the secret place. Dhatusepa asked to bring him to the bank of an artificial lake that was created during his reign. "This is my treasure" - he pointed. Furious Kassapa had his father walled up in the embankment, leaving a small slit - "so you can admire your treasure untill you die." It is interesting that during the construction of the lake the old hermit had seated himself in the path of the advancing enbankment and settled into a meditative trance. Nobody and nothing could make him move away. Then angry Dhatusepa ordered to build the embankment over the hermit. And then, years later, the same fate befell him.

7 years later Kassapa moved to his palace on the rock. It is said that he feared revenge from his younger brother, and therefore settled in this inaccessible place. But then why did he beautify the surrounding area? At the foot of the rock there were three beautiful gardens laid out: water garden, boulder garden and terrace garden which hosted the numerous pavilions and playgrounds with marble benches for rest and reflection. According to another version, Kassapa believed himself to be God (or wanted to create such an image), and where should the gods live? - In heaven, away from the sinful earth. So he built himself a palace on the top of the rock.


The entrance to the palace was designed as a giant lion. There were steps leading up between the paws and into lion's mouth. Now not much is left of the lion, only two strong feet with two-meter high giant claws.

One of the wonders of Sigiriya is its rock paintings. They are found halfway up the rock. Once the procession of lovely bare-breasted women covered the entire face of the rock; today only 23 remain. The frescoes picture beautiful women, some naked to the waist, some in transparent blouses, some fair-skinned, while others are dark. They hold their poses with sedactive glances, turned-up lips, heavy bosoms and slender waists - they all are beautiful. Some delicately hold a flower, others open its petals or carry a tray of flowers. It is not known for sure who they are - ladies of the court, queens, the king's daughters or his concubines, dancers or maybe apsaras?


For centuries, their image has inspired many poets. In 1956 685 sonnets dedicated to the Sigiriya maidens were translated into English. Their authors - poets, mere mortals, and even rulers.

Dry as a flower
That has fallen on a rock
Are the hearts of those beauties
Whose golden skin
Has caught my mind


She answers no-one
For her king has died.

The ladies who wear golden chains on their breasts
beckon to me.
Now I have seen these resplendent ladies,
heaven has lost its appeal for me.

Nothing much is left of the unique palace: a foundation , a large rock-cut pool for collecting rain water, a stone bench of the king, stone steps and walkways. The view from the summit is arrestingly beautiful. And it is not hot up there due to a very strong wind (another reason for the king to move higher).

To climb Sigiriya is not an easy task, especially considering the heat. I noticed a few people - an overweight woman and an elderly couple - who had to abandon further climbing because they felt ill. A pity. I think Sigiriya is one of the best and interesting places in Sri Lanka, a "must see" place.

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