Sigiriya literally means ‘Lion Rock’ after the shape of entrance to the rock fortress which was in the form of a recumbent lion whose remnants could still be seen in the gigantic paws at the entrance to the palace. A palace indeed, for it served for a short period of about a decade and a half as the political hub of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is probably the best preserved and glorious of the surviving, planned cities of South and Southeast Asia of the first millennium of the Christian era. For a number of reasons including its fascinating surroundings, its plan and conception and its degree of preservation, Sigiriya occupies a foremost position in the history of urbanism in Asia. Sigiriya’s urban form consists of a series of central environs, the outer moat of which not yet completely explored – seems to form a correctly geometrical rectangle. These successive environs are centered on the grand Sigiriya rock. The city plan has been identified as a rectangular form almost 3 km from east to west and 1 km from north to south.
Many who visit Sigiriya believe that this urban centre reveals only Kashyapan period (C.5th century AD) architectural characteristics, but the archaeological evidence prove that Sigiriya has pre-and post- Kashyapan phases. Indeed it has as many as ten phases.
The Most Attractive Places in Heritage Site of Sigiriya
Mirror Wall is one of the most amazing aspects of the Sigiriya. After a number of caves and platforms, there is a series of steep stairs in the Terraced Garden and a grand staircase leading upto the Mirror Wall.
Paintings (Sigiriya Frescoes) are found in the Cobra Hood Cave which can be reached after climbing up on a narrow spiral staircase.
Lion Staircase is carved out from a rock and continues on newly constructed iron steps to the top.
Garden Complex including several gardens with ponds, canals, alleys and fountains. They are divided in to 3 linked forms – the symmetrical planned water gardens, the boulder gardens and the terraced gardens.
On the summit of Sigiriya, you see the ruins of the former royal palace, buildings, pavilions, tropical gardens and ponds. A climb to the top of the Sigirya Rock is worth the effort.
The museum in Sigiriya is well known to be the most attractive and represents its cultural, technological and archaeological value. Three decades of archaeological research on Sigiriya, the famous UNESCO world heritage site can be explored at the Sigiriya Museum.