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Sigriya is a Word Heritage Site and literally means Lion Rock


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.

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