The Sigiriya ("Lion Rock") fortress was built by King Kassapa, who ruled from here between 511-59 CE. Kassapa gained power by killing his father, and thus had concerns for his personal safety. The top is quite level, but can only be reached by a narrow stairway up the side. In the end, Kassapa was killed when he foolishly came down to fight his enemies on the level. As you can see, this is now a rural and bucolic site in Sri Lanka.
Photo taken Dec. 1981; historical details from Benjamin Rowland's The Art and Architecture of India, Penguin 1981.
|Here you can see the pathway up from the ground, about two-thirds of the way up (I'm leaning over the protective railing). Much of the pathway was nothing more than horizontal grooves cut into the rock face (visible here) that served to give some purchase for hands and feet while climbing up. Not for the faint of heart!|
|The most important reason Sigiriya is famous is the lovely wall paintings under a rock overhang about halfway up, near what might have been a guard-post. The general consensus among art historians is that these are pictures of apsaras, celestial maidens renowned for their beauty, which is on full view here. Note too the lavish jewelry.|
||Here's another of the images, with the figure on the right holding a flower, probably a lotus. For more pictures, click on the link below (the picture quality is higher there--due to better photo skills, post-1981 restoration of the paintings, or both.|
Click here for website on Sigiriya. Since the early 1980s Sri Lanka has undergone an extremely vicious civil war, which made going to see these in person not recommended. Things seem to have quieted down in the past few years, but there is always more worry--so if you go, be careful!
These pages are in progress.
Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 27 December 2005