Standing in all its glory in the central Matale District of the island nation of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is a world famous ancient rock fortress and palace. A marvellous creation done under the patronage of King Kasyapa, the rock fortress holds a prestigious repute as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 8th world wonder. Standing as a living manifestation of a glorious Sinhalese civilization of the past, the fortress is flanked by the remnants of an extensive network of reservoirs, gardens and various other structures.
Presiding high among the numerous attractions found in Sigiriya, are the intriguing frescos. Reminiscent of paintings found in Ajanta Caves in India, these frescoes are of a unique style compared to various other paintings belonging to the Anuradhapura period. The beautiful ladies in these frescoes are believed to be daughters of King Kasyapa. Popularly referred to as ‘The Sigiriya Damsels’, the paintings were made on the sheer rock surface. Although only 22 of the estimated 500 pictures can be seen today, some of the prevailing ones are still in surprisingly good condition.
The distinctive combination of 5th century garden-landscape designing, hydraulic engineering, architecture, engineering, urban planning, poetry, painting, sculpture and art is what has made this one of the most elaborate and best preserved historical sites in the world.
The elaborately and beautifully landscaped water gardens at the site hold a hidden, awe-inspiring aspect of their own. They consist of a complex, underground water distribution system providing water to various fountains as well as royal baths. A splendid view of these gardens can be enjoyed at the midpoint of the climb up the rock.
Another noteworthy feature of the rock fortress is the lion platform at its Northern end. Initially the final ascent to the rock’s summit had to be made between the paws of the lion, entering his mouth, but today only the first steps and the paws are present.
Offering proof of it being a prosperous former royal palace than merely a rock fortress are the remains of various foundations on the summit of Sigiriya. Affording magnificent views for those traversing through its distinct layout, the summit comprises a pond carved out of solid rock.
Among the hotels in Sigiriya, a popular choice is Sigiriya Village. A jungle retreat overlooking a panoramic view of the ‘rock fortress in the sky’, the Sigiriya hotel is as close one may get to a tranquil haven. Located at the centre of various archaeological heritage sites, it also ensures guests a remarkably comfortable stay.