Geoweek – Sigiriya

Geoweek - Sigiriya
Image by Kompas, supported by Flickr

In the highland of northern Sri Lanka, a granite stone of 500 feet (approx. 150 metre) can be found, the stone was taller than the trees in the forest surrounding it. The red-coloured solid stone, also known as “Lion Mountains”, dominates the landscape there.

The stone is the centre of attraction in Sigiriya, the capital of King Kassapa I in the 5th century. The king built his palace which was founded on top of the stone with the capital city surrounding the stone. Sigiriya is famous for her terraced-gardens and the detail water-channelisation, including channels, underground water tanks and water fountains.

Another amazing sights of Sigiriya is a giant lion made from stone which is located at the bottom corner of the stone. A staircase to the mountain top begins from the lion’s claw and ends in the lion’s mouth. Sadly, the statue is no longer in good condition.

At the side of the stones, there were wall mirrors made from polished and smooth layers. The walls, however, was blocked by graffiti left by visitors between the 6th century to 14th century. Much of the writings were in poems and among the oldest writings in Sinhalese language.

Only about two dozens of wall paintings left from 500 paintings initially that can be found in the stone. The wall paintings are known as “The Maidens of the Sky”. It showcases feminine figures believed to be apsara reflection (figures from the heaven). The paintings was painted using wet clays. It brings international recognitions due to its unique beauty and the skills of the artists.

Sigiriya became a Buddhist monastery after Kassapa died but was abandoned later on. Sigiriya was a debris in 1895 when British archaeologist, HCP Bell found it.

Most parts of Sigiriya has been restored and visited by hundreds of thousands visitors annually. Sigiriya was granted the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

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