Will you believe if Sri Lanka’s single most stunning attraction is but a single, massive rock fortress? Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is a monolithic rock formation that the locals prefer to call the eighth wonder of the world. The battle between rightful heirs to claim the throne of the mighty Kashyapa kingdom took place here and if anything, Sigiriya’s mythical demeanour and spell-binding surroundings might as well make it worthy of the attention it gets.
Declared as the eighth wonder of the world as declared by UNESCO, the Lion’s Rock is not one to keep its light under its bushel. Located in the Matale District near the town of Dambulla, Sigiriya is a symbol of pivotal importance in Sri Lanka’s ancient history. Sigiriya is one of the eight world heritage sites of Sri Lanka and the privilege can be attributed to the 5th-century leonine rock arts and cryptic frescoes people are trying to solve till date.
King Dhatusena, the king of Sri Lanka from 455 to 473 AD, wanted one of his sons Moggallana to assume the throne after his ruling period, but Moggallana’s brother Kashyapa wanted to usurp the throne. Kashyapa not only allied with the army commander on his treason to snatch the throne from his father King Dhatusena but also won and threw his father in the dungeon to die. Moggallana went into exile in South India. Meanwhile, Moggallana didn’t want to take a chance on losing the throne and he shifted his province from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya. Just when the jungle-covered majestic Sigiriya with breathtaking views of Sri Lanka couldn’t get any more beautiful, Kashyapa made it his goal to ornate Lion’s Rock end-to-end with ancient Sinhalese poems and kaleidoscopic frescoes. Statues were built and rocks were polished for the king to check his reflection.
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In a Lion King-like turn of events, Moggallana returned and restored his right to the throne by defeating Kashyapa in 495 CE. He then shifted the throne back to Anuradhapura, leaving Sigiriya for travellers to explore. If you are visiting Sri Lanka, make sure to visit this place, for there are no short of mythical branch stories to learn about the Lion’s Rock. Sigiriya lures photographers and history lovers from all over the world to scale its heights and discover the undiscovered.
Hike the staircases that look like they need to nowhere, and spot cryptic messages and artworks that look like they are not of this world, and keep climbing. Sigiriya, after all, is for the ones who don’t give up in probing for the forgotten secrets and it’s worth it. The lion paw-shaped rocks that are perched way atop the land level, the eery looking gates, and the surrounding gardens—each come with its own allure and personality and words don’t do justice to its architectural masterpiece.
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