Sigiriya

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Location: Matale District  Map

Constructed: 5th century by King Kashyapa

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Sigiriya

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Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a massive fortress constructed on a natural rock platform in central Matale District in Sri Lanka. It was constructed by King Kashyapa (AD 477 – 495) at the altitude of 200 meters above surface.

The site of Sigiriya was inhabited since the Mesolithic Period fie thousand years ago, but playboy king took the building to the extreme. The king knew how to build lavish palaces. He surrounded his residence with gardens, pools and fountains. Ceremonial path surrounded by pools on both sides leads to the only entrance to the king's residence. The only way to get to the palace is to take a long staircase that is carved into a rock and passes through the legs of a giant lion. The head of the lion that once stood here collapse either due to natural causes or due to constant warfare that was so common in the history of Sri Lanka.

The story of Sigiriya and its creator king Kashyapa is no exception. He gained his throne by killing his own father king Dhatusena by walling the old man and letting him die from starvation. Kashyapa was born from a concubine and had no official right to the throne. With the help of king's nephew and army officer Migara they staged a coup against the king and prince Moggallana. Moggallana escaped to South India, but his existence made Kashyapa very nervous in the next 18 years of his rule. The capital was basically relocated from Anuradhapura to this isolated, but well defended location. It did not help him though. In 495 AD Moggallana returned with the army, gained support among the locals and forced Kashyapa to a battle over the throne of Sri Lanka. According to a legend Kashyapa who was riding a war elephant into a battle confused his soldiers with strange signals to change the site of the main attack. They took it for order of retreat and abandoned him. Kashyapa lost the battle and threw himself on a sword committing a suicide. Rightful owner of the throne prince Moggallana took his father's throne and a crown, and moved his capital back to Anuradhapura. The site served as a Buddhist monastery until 14th century. Briefly it was occupied by the army in the 16th- 17th century, but then it was abandoned again. The main attraction of the palace is the Gallery, those walls are decorated with over 500 murals depicting topless women.

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