The Story of Sigiriya

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 1/6 by Mariyam Masharik

Located in between the Habarana and Dambulla towns in the Matale district in Sri Lanka is, Sigiriya. The ‘Lions Rock’ previously known as Sihagiri has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is commonly referred to as Sigiriya.

The story of Sigiriya dates to the 14th century when it was used as a monastery. King Kashyapa, King Datusena’s eldest born son was talented in politics, war strategy and the arts as a prince ought to be. He was however, denied the throne and his younger step-brother King Mugallana who was the son of a royal consort was in line to be king. The vengeful Kashyapa hatched a plan with Migara, King Datusena’s army commander to rebel against his father.

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 2/6 by Mariyam Masharik

With Migara’s incitement and assistance, Prince Kashyapa overthrew King Datusena and usurped the throne. The former king was then imprisoned and later entombed into a wall. The end of the king is interpreted differently in various chronicles.

King Kashyapa’s cruelty to his father and the repercussion of his action caused public rage and the disappointment and disgust of the priests. He was later referred to as the ‘Pithru Gathaka Kashyapa’ (Parricidal Kashyapa). The Prince Mugallana then fled to India.

King Kashyapa sought safety from the public fury and disgust and fled into a large, roughly lion-shaped rock that he then discovered. Thus, the kingdom of Sigiriya was born. The rock was elaborately designed with pools and lush green gardens and had dense forests protecting it from right round. The grand gardens of Sigiriya are said to be one of the world’s oldest landscaped gardens. The water system that remains a marvel and a mystery still function well during the rainy seasons and fills up the pools on all ground levels.

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 3/6 by Mariyam Masharik

The mirror wall when polished could once hold one's reflection on it. The design, architecture and the many ornate features of this beautiful fortress is an example of the luxury and the artistic taste that lay in the dynasty. The glamorous marvel of the ancient architectural world stands as a backdrop for the Hotel Sigiriya. The atmosphere in the entire area covered with greenery is a healing to the senses and an escape into a much simpler era of human existence.

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 4/6 by Mariyam Masharik

King Kashyapa ruled in this rock fortress for 20 years but hadn't managed to gather the support of his people, when his step brother Mugallana came with an army to fight for his throne. The defeated but brave Kashyapa refused to die at the sword of another and chose to fall on his own sword which ended his reign and life. He however, left behind a legacy and an idyllic rock mansion for visitors to be bewildered by.

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 5/6 by Mariyam Masharik

Today, Sigiriya is a resplendent piece of heritage and grandeur that is visited by people of different cultures all year around. Companies like Diethelm Travel Sri Lanka offer tours of Sigiriya and share in-depth knowledge of the history of this site, that leaves a memory of the rebellious Kashyapa and the stunning picture of his rock fortress in their minds for eternity.

Photo of The Story of Sigiriya 6/6 by Mariyam Masharik