Aerial View Of Sunrise Over The Famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress Called Lion With Smooth Music.

By Derrick Byron | Feb 09, 2024

Sigiriya, also known as the Lion Rock Fortress, is an ancient citadel located in the Matale District of Central Province, Sri Lanka. It was built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century and is renowned for its remarkable archaeological and architectural features.

The fortress is situated on a massive rock plateau that rises about 200 meters above the surrounding plain. The site consists of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, and lower palaces that cling to the slopes below the rock. The Lion Gate, named for the sculpted lion's head that once topped the entrance but has since collapsed, is one of the most iconic features of Sigiriya.

The site is also known for its extensive gardens, which are divided into three distinct but interlinked sections: the symmetrical or geometrically planned water gardens, the asymmetrical or organic cave and boulder garden, and the stepped or terraced garden circling the rock. These gardens are considered some of the best-preserved water gardens in South Asia.

Sigiriya is also famous for its frescoes, which include 21 rock paintings of apsaras (celestial singers and dancers). These frescoes are considered a significant example of ancient Sri Lankan art.

The fortress was abandoned after the defeat of King Kashyapa in 495 and fell into ruin. It later became a Buddhist monastery before being rediscovered in the 19th century. Today, Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist destination.

The lion's head carving at Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock, was a significant architectural and symbolic element of the ancient fortress. The name Sigiriya itself is derived from this structure, with "Siṃhagiri" translating to Lion Rock. The lion figure served as a grand entrance to the upper palace, symbolizing both the power of the king and the majesty of the fortress. Visitors would ascend the rock and pass through the lion's mouth to reach the summit, which was both an awe-inspiring experience and a display of the king's authority.

The lion's head and paws flanking the entrance were designed to welcome visitors and simultaneously warn enemies, embodying the dual nature of the site as both a palace and a fortress. The lion motif also had a religious significance, as it led to the enormous gaping mouth of the lion, which was part of the final staircase to the summit.

Unfortunately, the lion's head has long since collapsed, and only the paws remain today, marking the transition between the ancient stone staircase and the modern metal one. These remnants still impress visitors and are a testament to the grandeur of the original structure. Despite the loss of the lion's head, the surviving paws continue to symbolize the site's historical and cultural significance, and Sigiriya remains a UNESCO World Heritage site and a marvel of ancient urban planning.

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