Sigiriya is Located almost at the northern border central province of SriLanka about 180 km from Colombo capital. It takes four and a half hours of direct drive by a car.
Sigiriya is Located almost at the northern border central province of SriLanka about 180 km from Colombo capital. It takes four and a half hours of direct drive by a car. At present Sigiriya is a village, where the World famous Heritage Sigiriya Rock, […]
At present Sigiriya is a village, where the World famous Heritage Sigiriya Rock, historically developed as Ancient Rock fortress and Kingdom complex of King Kashyapa (Sigiri Kashapa) 5th Century AD.
Kashyapa’s father Dhatuusena, Younger Brother Mugalan, sister, Migara son in Law, the commander, etc. The story found in the chronicle Mahavansa is the same that legends and folklore describe. There is a sad story behind this Sigiriya.
After killing his father Kasyapa was not pardoned by Sanga ( order of monks) and the people in Anuradhapura capital. Kasyapa had to leave Anuradhapura and established in his own kingdom the in Sigriya.
He wanted to be a God Kuvera, who is a Hindu god for wealth, and live like a god-king. He ruled here for 18 years and Mugalan his brother came to Sigiriya with an army.
Hearing this, Kasyapa went to fight his brother but when his armies left him alone thinking that king was retreating when he was turning back the elephant to avoid a muddy area, He committed suicide before he defeated by his brother.
His brother, who did not stay in Sigiriya, went to Anuradhapura and became the king. Then the monks who were earlier at Sigiriya came back and established the monastery. However, some other historians have different opinions. The popular question they ask is that; can a patricide and a king who has fear of any time invasion create such a serene beautiful city?” It is simply not the fortress- hideout of a patricide living in fear of retribution. Is it a rock fortress Sigiriya was a pleasant environment created expressly for Kasyapa’s strong disposition is evident all over Sigiriya with its’ pleasant environment. Archaeological evidence shows that Sigiriya king had foreign relations with Persia, China, and Rome
According to the historical evidence, the monastery was there till 13th Century and lost it for the jungle. But the name Sigiriya continued. During the 19th C. Buddhist monks established a temple at Pidurangala and began to take interest in the Sigiriya site. In 1894 The British Archaeological Commissioner H.C.P Bell commenced the excavation and the successive Archeological Commissioner Prof. S Paranawithana continued the excavation and conserved it to the present situation.
The monolith rock is named as Sigiriya, because of the shape of the rock as well as due to the later developments by the King Kasyapa. He added a lion’s mouth and people had to go through the mouth. In Sinhala, “Sinha giri” which means ‘lion mountain’ or ‘lions mouth/ throat’ became Sigiriya. It is wrongly described as a fortress but in fact, it is a well planned multifaceted royal city with a palace on the summit of the 200-meter high rock, an extensive assemblage of buildings, parks, ponds, and pathways, etc. covering an area of more than 15 hectares enclosed by ramparts and moats.
According to archaeologists and historians “Sigiriya is a ‘unique combination of fifth-century such as urban planning, landscaping, hydraulic management, engineering, architecture, painting, sculpture poetry human resource management.’
There are two main concepts followed by the Sigiriya builders. They are:
The Sigiriya palace complex has consisted of several parts
ramparts and moats. (Citadel extends about 18 sq km.)
Three ramparts and two moats, very well mark out the inner city. The citadel extends about 18 sqkm.)
The above three entrances can be clearly seen.
The western entrance has been excavated and preserved.
It is regarded as an exclusive gate to the water gardens with a draw bridge.
The moats were fed by the waters of the reservoir (tank).
The inner and middle ramparts had tiled roofed walkways along their length.
The middle and outer ramparts were incomplete and suddenly halted with sudden and dramatic termination of Kasyapa’s reign.
Northern and Southern gateways were large enough for the vehicular traffic.
This is considered one of the historic and oldest surviving gardens in Asia.
The pleasure gardens can be divided into three.
The entrance with three small stone holes shows that there was a massive wooden entrance. Sigiriya Water Gardens can be considered as one of the oldest in the world, which is still functioning. During the rainy season (November to Jan) we can see the fountains gushing out the water. Then the ponds in various shapes, changing rooms and stepped tunnels show that one can use another pond without coming up. As mentioned above, symmetry and enhancing nature is visible here. Passing rectangular shaped ponds, it is found water fountains, a cistern which collects water with pressure, serpentine waterways and a pool under a jutted out boulder. The brick wall on the left shows, that the builders did not want to destroy but to balance and enhance nature. The pools and other water-retaining features of the gardens were interlinked by a network of underground conduits, initially fed by the Sigiriya tank and probably connected at various points with the surrounding moats. The excavated area on the right, which is surrounding by the moats is considered as a cool palace. Keeping the symmetrical theory,
we can see the building unexcavated on the left kept for the future generation to excavate.
Miniature water gardens This is on the right, immediately after the inner ramparts. Excavated in the 1980s, It contains roofed pavilions, of brick and limestone surrounded by paved water pools and winding water courses, which were built in such a manner to present soothing and aesthetic effects by slow-moving water. According to archeologists, it has been renovated later after the 10th Century. There is a well about three m. deep shows the underground waterways, which still work.
Boulder gardens, terrace, monastery, and inner-city During the pre-Kasyapa period the monastery complex was situated in this area, where,21 caves have been found and some of the donative inscriptions on the drip ledges go back to the 3 rd to 1st C. BC.
There are remains of Stupa, ‘Bodhigara’ a circular building around the Bodhi tree, and asanaghara- meditating seats,(A house in which a stone seat was placed for which Buddhist worshipped) the ground plan of this monastic complex resembles one of the remaining 5th to 6th Century monastic complex called ‘Pabbta vihara.’
During Kasyapa period the boulder gardens have been arranged into a series of terraces, forming not only a clearly defined and protected area but also a boulder and terrace gardens around the rock. The Audience Hall and the cistern located in the southern slope of the Boulder gardens. The cistern was watered from the lake down and the know-how is not known. the cistern was originally watered by elevated aqueduct carrying water from the reservoir on the South Western slopes.”
Every boulder in this area had been used for some kind of superstructure. The cobra hooded cave with pre-Kasyapa donation inscriptions and post-Kasyapa paintings can be witnessed. The two archways found on the present way up and way down at the western slope is remarkably situated to maintain the concept of symmetry or pairs.
Architects call it an echo concept. (The boulders with rock cuts are not the steps but the grooves or holes to be constructed superstructures)
Terrace gardens The remains of terrace gardens are found right round the rock after the water gardens, Lion’s paw and the summit. Archeologists believe that there were elevated terraces built around inner city and palace complex where flowering trees and shrubs were planted.
The most famous features of the Sigiriya complex are the 5th Century paintings found in a pocket of the rock about the 100 meters above the ground level. A spiral staircase has been erected for the present visitors to see the paintings. Historians believe that the western side of the rock was full of paintings. It would be a wonderful gallery of paintings. Now only 17 paintings are remaining. The technique used, is called ‘fresco bueno” which means to paint on the wet plaster. A lady’s figure with three hands and another with three nipples prove it. The painter could not erase the unsuitable hand and the extra nipple because he has painted it on wet plaster. There are different interpretations of the maidens.
Royal princes and queens carrying flowers to the temple.
That they are Wijjulltha and Meghalata(lightning and clouds)in the Alakamanada of Kuwera.
They are Apsarasor angels.
However, the common belief is that those ladies represent the damsels from the royal palace. those damsels are not nude, according to the graffiti 219,221and 230 they are wearing the silk from Bejing! , Sigiriya paintings represent the earliest surviving examples of realism, already fully evolved by the time of 5th century.The pigments for the paintings were taken from nature – gravel, leaves, bark, flowers, etc..
The paints have been varnished by(‘Dorana’Dipterocarpus glandulosus) oil.
For the plaster – Kaolin, termite hill earth, and half burned paddy husk ash, burnt oyster shell, A glue from a tree.
Ancient artists had mainly five colors – white, yellow, red, black and blue, (no blue in Sigiriya )
They have made colors as follows during the Kandyan period. Sigiriya paintings can be seen not only in the main rock but also in five caves in the boulder gardens. Traces of paintings can be found in many other caves too.
The post Kasyapa paintings found in the cobra hooded cave are being considered unique and represent a high-level masterpieces of Sri Lankan paintings. “it is nothing less than a masterpiece of expressionist painting, displaying considerable imaginative range and artistic virtuosity in way not seen elsewhere in the surviving Sri Lankan Paintings’ The characteristic brushwork style and tonal qualities of the Sigiriya school are immediately noticeable here.
The mirror wall is constructed of brick and plaster and preserved in its original form.
Built up from the side of the rock itself with brick masonry,
the wall has a highly polished plaster finish. This walled pathway continued to the summit through the lion’s mouth.
Visible from a great distance, it is a rare and dramatic survival of the construction technique employed at Sigiriya to combine masonry and natural rock.
The raw material for the shining wall would have been with dolomite and brick powder, kaolin, some kind of glue of a tree and oil of bark of Dorana tree, which is used for varnishing.
After Kasyapa when the monastery established again, people of the country came to see the marvelous palace complex. When they came here, some of them have written down their expressions by way of composing poems on Sigiriya frescoes, the king and the palace. Those are called graffiti and more than 1200 graffiti have been read and understood. These graffiti give us a clear picture of the society, literature, and people who had a tradition of traveling to see the places other than on pilgrimage during the period from 6th to 13th C. AD. According to graffiti, the queens have worn the silk from Beijing.“
One of the most dramatic features at Sigiriya is the great Lion Staircase through the lion’s mouth. which is preserved only in two colossal and mass of brick masonry surrounding ancient limestone steps. On the terrace, it was a courtyard and reception area before ascending the summit.
The grooves of the rock show that there was a massive structure of wooden and brick masonry. The lion, so impressive even in its ruined state today, must have afforded a vision of grandeur and majesty. There are several graffiti,which describes the great lion and the entrance.
The summit of the Sigiriya is a stepped plateau with a total extent of around 4 acres. A brick-walled staircase originally gave accesses to the summit. It began within the lion gateway and probably had limestone stairs and a tiled roof. The remaining grooves on the rock indicate the path. The rock-cut throne, which faces the inner city and ceremonial precincts to the east of the rock. The palace complex represents the earliest surviving example of royal palaces in Sri Lanka. The garden area shows the reduced scale of pleasure gardens below. The palace was supposed to be a two and multi-storied building complex built according to the contours of the summit.
The intricate system of rain harvesting is visible with several rock-cut pools. However, yet it is an unanswerable question that how the water was supplied to the top during the dry season.
“The Palace on the summit and the great lion presided over the surrounding countryside, is a powerful expression of both actual and symbolic royal authority and control over “landscape of power” radiating across the territory of the Sigiriya kingdom.”
It is believed that the present excavated area of the Eastern Part of the rock as the inner and outer city. The inner city measures about 700 meters from east to west and
500 m. from north to south, with a high earthen rampart, gateways, and buried moat.
On a low rock out the crop in the center of the Inner city is evidence of a pavilion, directly aligned with the eastward oriented throne on the summit, suggesting that this area was a ceremonial precinct connected visually and symbolically with the palace on the top of the rock.
Beyond this inner city is the outer city area, a rectangular about 1500 by 100 meters. Excavations revealed a suburban settlement. Eastern side of the rock was the metropolis of the Sigiriya complex, where the bulk of the city’s population lived
A modern museum is established as an outright grant by JAICA. The total picture of Sigiriya is presented using audiovisual aid.
It is an ideal alternative to the people who are unable to climb up and also during the rainy days.
It is a wheelchair friendly museum.
However, there are no parking facilities for the vehicles.
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