Sigiriya Rocks!

The Serendib Chronicles – Day 7

4th Nov10, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka


Early morning saw us climbing the ancient rock fortress that is Sigiriya. Originally built into a city fortress in 5AD, it was expanded, used as a palace, monastery up till 14th century, when it was abandoned. Probably my favourite historical site in Lanka, the sprawling city is made up of 3 levels, the garden terraces at ground level, a mid-level area halfway up the rock, and the topside, where the palace remnants are located.
At the base of the Sigiriya rock are the three terraced gardens, starting out from the water gardens, with pools located on either side of a walkway towards the rock, the pools being almost symmetrical. Then comes the boulder gardens, which looked like like part of the natural landscape, with step-like shapes cut into the boulder indicating that there must have been be some structures atop. The terraced gardens are basically steps leading up towards the top of the rock.

Midway through, we pass by the Fresco, where figures have been painted and preserved onto the side of the rock, and well as the Mirror Wall, running along the side of the rock, and polished so shiny it resembles a mirror, hence the name. On the wall are scribbled ancient graffiti, poems about how visitors to the rock marveled at the wonder.


Next, up to Lion’s Mouth, the mid-level clearing, where steps leading to the top goes through what was previously a lion’s mouth, (hence the Sigiriya name, Lion’s Rock). All that remains now are the lion’s paws.
Finally, at the top of the rock, the ruins of the palace /monastery. Nothing spectacular in itself, but the view of the surrounding area was great. From the places visited, seen so far, it seems that the locals, then and now, have an eye for setting up structures on high ground, overlooking everything, on a large scale. Like this rock, Buddha statues set atop hills like in Kandy, and Dambulla. The trend was to continue later when we went up to Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.
By the time we were topside, we’re pretty much exhausted. Made our way down and took the long drive to Polonnaruwa. Did the Polonnaruwa museum for an hour or so, and a couple of ruins. The sights in the ancient city of Polo were spread all around, much like Angkor in Cambodia, and were easier to visit on wheels. Like our van. It started to drizzle a bit, and we took that as an excuse to find lodging and stop sightseeing. In actual fact, we were bloody tired.
Interlude: Here’s a list of UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka (source: Wikipedia)
Eight sites of Sri Lanka have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage, namely, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa (1982), the ancient city of Sigiriya (1982), the Golden Temple of Dambulla (1991), the old town of Galle and its fortifications (1988), the sacred city of Anuradhapura (1982), the sacred city of Kandy (1988), Sinharaja Forest Reserve (1988) and the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (2010).
Well, 7 out of 8 isn’t too bad – minus Sinharaja.

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