My dear travelers and lovers of unusual adventures, welcome to the new adventure on the Mr.M blog! Today’s letter will be dedicated to one of the most famous landmarks of Sri Lanka – Sigiriya. Before I start today’s post I would like to thank the National Tourism Board of Sri Lanka for this amazing experience and for having the opportunity to continue my adventure on my favorite dream island!
The name Sigiriya itself means “Lion’s Rock” and is a symbol of this unusual island country. There is no tourist who came to Sri Lanka without visiting the famous rock that is on the UNESCO list of cultural sites of World Heritage in Asia and Oceania. What is the story that is passed down through the generations, from generation to generation?
Sigiriya used to be a kingdom at the “top of the world”, which was later turned into a Buddhist monastery. This historic landmark, a former fortification, is located in the northern part of the Matadalle District near the city of Dambulla in the Central Province. It is a place of exceptional historical and archeological significance, dominated by a massive pillar of rock about 180 meters high.
According to ancient Sri Lankan history, this area was a large forest, and after storms and landslides it became a hill and King Kashyapa chose it as the ideal place for his new capital. Legend has it that on top of this unusual scene, the king built his palace and decorated its walls with colorful frescoes. He made a gate in the shape of a huge lion on a small plateau of this rock. The name of this place comes from this word structure: “Sinhagiri” – Lion’s Rock (Lion’s City).
The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Today, Sigiriya is proudly on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning of the city.
As you are used to, today I will do my best to tell you some historical interesting facts and facts related to this unusual rock. According to some historical writings, it is believed that the area around Sigiriya has been inhabited since prehistoric times. There is ample concrete evidence that many shelters and caves nearby were inhabited by Buddhist monks and ascetics as early as the 3rd century BC. The earliest evidence of human settlement in Sigiriya is the shelter in the rocks of Aligala, which is located east of the Sigiriya rock, which indicates that this area was occupied almost five thousand years ago during the Mesolithic period.
Buddhist monastic settlements were founded during the 3rd century BC on the western and northern slopes of the hills sprinkled with boulders that surround the Sigiriya rock. During this period, several stone shelters – caves were created. These shelters are made under large boulders, with carved edges around the cave entrances. Inscriptions on the rocks are carved near the edges of many shelters, recording the donations of the shelter to the Buddhist monastic order as residences. They are believed to have originated between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD.
How did King Kashyapa come to Sigiriya? Kashyapa I, the king’s son from his non-royal wife in 477 AD, took the throne from King Dhatusena, after a coup with the help of Moggallana, the king’s nephew and army commander. The real heir, Moggallana, fearing for his life, fled to southern India.
Frightened by the attack of Moggallana, Kashyapa moved the capital and his residence from the traditional capital of Anuradhapura to the safer Sigiriya. During the reign of King Kashyapa (from 477 to 495 AD), Sigiriya developed into a complex city and fortress. Most of the complex structures on and around the rock, including defensive structures, palaces and gardens, date from this period.
Cūḷavaṃsa describes King Kashyapa as the son of King Dhatusena. Cūḷavaṃsa or Chulavamsa (Pala: “Little Chronicle”) is a historical record, written in Pali, about the monarchs of Sri Lanka. Kashyapa killed his father by walling him up alive, and then usurped the throne that rightfully belonged to his half-brother Moggallani, Dhatusena’s son from the real queen. Moggallana fled to India to avoid being killed by Kashyapa, but swore revenge.
He raised an army in India with the intention of returning and re-occupying the throne of Sri Lanka, which he considered his right. Anticipating the inevitable return of Moggallana, Kashyapa reportedly built his palace on top of Sigiriya as a fortress and palace for enjoyment. Moggallana finally arrived, declared war and defeated Kashyapa in 495. During the battle, Kashyapa’s army abandoned him and he committed suicide with his sword.
Cūḷavaṃsa and a legend passed down for generations say that the fighting elephant on which Kashyapa was sitting changed course to take a strategic advantage, but the army misinterpreted the movement as if the king had decided to withdraw, leading the army to abandon it altogether. It is said that, because he was too proud to surrender, he took the sword off his belt, cut his throat, proudly raised his sword, put it in its scabbard and fell dead. Moggallana returned the capital to Anuradhapura, turning Sigiriya into a Buddhist monastery complex, which survived until the 13th or 14th century.
After this period, no records of Sigiriya were found until the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was briefly used as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.
There are other legends where King Dhatusena has the main role of the builder of Sigiriya, and Kashyapa finished the work in honor of his father. Other stories describe Kashyapa as the playboy king, with Sigiriya as his palace of pleasure. Even Kashyapa’s final destiny is uncertain. In some versions, he is killed by the poison given to him by the concubine, while in the official “braver” version, he heroically cuts his own throat when he deserted in his last battle. There is some research that has come to some evidence that this place is the work of a Buddhist community, without a military function. This location may have been important in the competition between the Buddhist traditions of Mahayana and Theravada in ancient Sri Lanka.
Professor Senarath Paranavithana’s book “The Story of Sigiriya” says that King Dhatusena listened to the advice of the Persian Nestorian priest Mag Brahman on the construction of his palace in Sigiriya. According to Paranavithana, during this period over seventy-five ships carrying Murundi soldiers from Mangalore arrived in Sri Lanka and landed in Chilaw to protect King Dathusena.
In the middle of the 19th century, Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British Army, while returning on his horse from a trip to Pollonnuruwa, came across “the forest-covered peak of Sigiriya”. Sigiriya was in the special center of attention of the antiquarian because of the unusual precious objects, and later also the archaeologists. The first archeological works in Sigiriya began at the end of the 19th century on a smaller scale. H.C.P. Bell was the first archaeologist to conduct extensive research on Sigiriya. The Cultural Triangle project, launched by the Sri Lankan government, focused on Sigiriya in 1982. As part of this project, archeological works on the entire city began for the first time. A lion’s head was sculpted above his feet and paws near the entrance, but unfortunately his head collapsed many years ago.
Sigiriya consists of an ancient citadel built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of the upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, the middle level terrace which includes the Lion’s Gate and the wall of mirrors with its frescoes, the lower palaces hold the slope below the rocks. The moats, walls and gardens of the palace stretched several hundred meters from the foot of the rock. The site was both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace at the top of the rock includes cisterns that are cut into the rock itself.
Sigiriya is considered to be one of the most important urban sites of the first millennium, and the plan of this impressive site is considered to be very elaborate and imaginative. The plan combined the concepts of symmetry and asymmetry to intentionally connect the geometric and natural forms of the man-made environment. On the west side of the rock is a park for royal families, set on a symmetrical plane. This park contains water retention structures, including sophisticated surface / underground hydraulic systems, some of which still operate today.
To the south of the rock is an artificial reservoir; these were largely used from the former capital of the dry zone of Sri Lanka. There are five gates at the entrances. It is believed that the more complex western gate was exclusively reserved for royal families.
There is one part of the rock that is painted with beautiful frescoes which unfortunately cannot be photographed, there are guards who keep the frescoes and making photos is not allowed, the frescoes are amazing and really worth visiting and enjoying the beauty of art made by man almost 5,000 years ago… Frescoes cover larger part of the western side of the rock, an area about 140 meters long and 40 meters high. However, a large part of the frescoes was lost forever and a small part remained, which can be seen today during a tour of Sigiriya during the descent from the rock.
After the great symbol of Sri Lanka, I would like to present you an amazing camp in nature where you can stay during your visit of this magical island. Situated among rolling hills, lush greenery and exceptional nature, the Wild Glamping Knuckles offers a completely different experience of atypical luxury camping in the central plateau of Sri Lanka.
With ten highly designed luxury tents ideally positioned amid the misty hills, the campsite allows guests to indulge in the beauties of nature while enjoying the modern comforts of camping. There is no internet or network telephone signal, so all you have to do is enjoy nature and the fantastic specialties prepared by the staff of this hotel from products that they grow or procure from local farms.
This unusual camp belongs to the group of hotels Theme Resorts & Spas, where you will always receive a special personalized exceptional service with a welcome smile. During my stay, I had a feeling of adrenaline because I had the opportunity to stay in tents, which I have not practiced for years.
In this luxury camp located in the Knuckles mountain range in Sri Lanka, there is an idyllic place where you can find refuge among the beautiful hills of the Central Province. The picturesque and secluded surroundings of Wild Glamping Knuckles offer its guests the opportunity to experience the adventure of the Knuckles mountain range and the surrounding wild flora and fauna, while enjoying the harsh and cold climate and the serenity of the rainforest and mountains.
Dear adventurers, we have come to the end of this special post about the most famous symbol of Sri Lanka – Sigiriya (Lion Rock) and an unusual camp, which would not be possible without the selfless help of the Sri Lankan Tourism Board in cooperation with local partners like Wild Glamping Knuckles. to feel the spirit and beauty of the Knuckles mountain range and Sri Lankan culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried to share my impressions of this unusual experience in Sri Lanka.
Time always flies when a person has a good time! A man is rich at heart if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad to always be able to find partners for my projects that help me discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way during this global health crisis COVID-19.
I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this amazing adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual island country in South Asia in a completely different way.
How did you like this story of mine about my experience in Sigiriya and Wild Glamping Knuckles? Have you maybe had the opportunity to visit Sri Lanka before? Share with me your experiences, I am would be glad to hear!
If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you in the same place in a couple of days, with a new story from Sri Lanka!
Warm greetings from Sri Lanka,
This post is sponsored by the Sri Lankan Tourism Board and Wild Glamping Knuckles camp which is a member of Theme Resorts and Spas group. This post presents my personal and honest review of the destination experience.