Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka’s most priceless historical sites. Locals refer to this ancient palace and fortress complex as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” and hundreds of visitors visit it each year because of its tremendous archaeological significance. It is most likely the top tourist destination in Sri Lanka.

History of Sigiriya

The history of Sigiriya is a long story. A brotherly rivalry between the two brothers is what gave rise to the rock. King Kashyapa the Great erected the massive rock fortification known as Sigiriya. This magnificent structure was built by King Kashyapa as protection against his brother, King Mogallana.

There is a horrible story connected to the Sigiriya rock. King Mogallana had been the heir apparent, but King Kashyapa had usurped the kingdom by force. King Kashyapa feared that his brother might reappear and claim the crown for himself. So he created this rock fortress as a defense for himself. He did not want his brother to make any intrusions.

However, Moggallana was able to defeat Kashyapa, and after that, the rock fortress was destroyed.

By the end of 1831, Europeans had found Sigiriya. While he traveled from Polonnaruwa to Sigiriya, British army major John Forbes made the discovery. This rock fortress was first excavated by a large number of historians and archaeologists, and it was during these digs that the full splendor of the rock was revealed. The rock’s summit is a fortress with gardens and parks.

Amazing things about Sigiriya

  • Visitors can “climb” the 1,200 steps, distributed among a multitude of stairs, to the top of Sigiriya Lions Rock, which is 200m high.
  • Kasyapa’s reign was marked by controversy throughout his life. He had no claim to the throne because he was born to a non-royal concubine. Because of this, he revolted against his father, the king Dhatusena, holding him captive before killing him and burying him in a wall.
  • King Kasyapa built a “mirror wall” that was so brilliant that he could see himself in it as he passed by. There is additional proof of a 140 m long and 40 m high wall covered in murals of women. These paintings can still be seen in part today. Along the “mirror wall,” visitors wrote down their impressions of the painted women. For historians, this graffiti is quite interesting since it demonstrates how the Sinhala language and script have evolved.
  • Water gardens, a moat, terraced gardens, and archaeological structures are all present on the Sigiriya Lions Rock.
  • The Sigiriya Rock gardens are still supplied with water by the spectacular hydraulic system that was once in place, which included canals, lakes, dams, bridges, fountains, and subterranean water pumps.