Located in the north-central province of Sri Lanka, Sigriya-a city, palace and garden complex centering a 200 metre high rock-is unofficially known as the 8th wonder of the world. Literally, the word Sigriya means the Lion Rock. Sigriya is Sri Lanka's most recognizable landmark and has been declared as a World Heritage Site.
Built in the 5 century AD, this magnificent complex of geometrically laid
gardens, pools, fountains as well as oldest surviving murals of maidens
was palace of the King Kasyapa. The Complex consists of the central rock,
rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular
precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded
by two moats and three ramparts.
The 650 ft monolith was once a rock fortress and a royal citadel from 477
to 495 AD. The most significant feature of the Rock would have been the
Lion staircase leading to the palace garden on the summit. All that
remains now are the two colossal paws and a mass of brick masonry that
surround the ancient limestone steps and the cuts and groves on the rock
face give an idea of the size and shape of the lion figure. There are also
remains of paintings in some of the caves at the foot of the rock. Of
special significance is the painting on the roof of the Cobra Hood Cave.
The cave with its unique shape dates back to the pre-Christian era.
The pleasure gardens on the western side of the rock are studded with
ponds, fountains and promenades showing a glorious past. The miniature
water garden just inside the inner wall of the western precinct consists
of water pavilions, pools, cisterns, courtyards, conduits and
watercourses. The largest water garden has a central island surrounded by
water and linked to the main precinct by cardinally oriented causeways.
The fountain garden is a narrow precinct on two levels. Western half has
two long and deep pools, with shallow serpentine streams draining into the
pools. These fountains are still active during the rainy season from
November to January.
Climbing up the rock you will see the Mirror Wall, a highly polished rock
surface that has weathered the times to shine and reflect even today. In a
sheltered pocket are the famous frescoes of beautiful maidens, which
appear to rise out of the clouds. A climb to the top is rewarded by a
panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Sigriya is a Word Heritage Site and literally means Lion Rock