Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, has been named one of the “unknown seven wonders of the world.” This was interesting to me for two reasons: one, I did not know that there was such a list, and two, I had indeed never heard of Sigiriya prior to my trip to Sri Lanka!
That said, I absolutely think that this incredible mix of nature and man’s innovation deserves to be honored.
Sigiriya is a natural rock formation that looms 200 meters high. Legend has it that when King Kashyapa, a ruler in the 5th century AD, had his life threatened, he fled to this location and built an impressive fortress. He built one part of his dwelling at the base of the rock, and one half on top. He would move back and forth every six months in order to enjoy the best climate.
The intricacy and beauty of this place was unbelievable, especially for having been built 1,600 years ago! It has been well-preserved, too. There were (and still are!) fountains that reach 2 meters during raining season, which function by way of underground tunnels and holes in the ground. Three gardens led up to the rock: pavilion gardens, fountain gardens, and boulder gardens.
Amongst other items in the boulder garden, one can pick out a cobra and (enormous) claws that once-upon-a-time belonged to a giant lion staircase!
Perhaps the most interesting thing about King Kashyapa, though, was his love for women. He allegedly brought 500 women from around the world to live with him in his new home (displacing the many monks that had lived there prior), and the ruins of his dwelling tell the story well. Atop his personal gigantic rock are dancing platforms, pools, and many others comforts to be enjoyed with his wives.
In addition to his accommodations, there is a mural that depicts paintings of his many wives. Especially interesting is that the trained eye can pick out the many differing nationalities of his wives. The way that this is fashioned is that the pictures are opposite another wall that has been so highly polished that it acts as a mirror. Therefore, with the sun hitting it correctly, they could see the pictures on both sides!
Climbing stairs seemed to be a common theme throughout this trip. This ascent was just a warm up for the others, numbering around 1,200 steps.
The panoramic view from the top was absolutely beautiful!
This was the sign at the top, so that we could make a reasoned decision on whether we wanted to climb up or not 🙂
Thankfully, we made it down just fine. We were amused on the way down, though, when we passed a boy of about 5 or 6 who was on his way up. Right as we walked by, we heard him exclaim angrily: “HOW… MANY… MORE… STEPS!?!” It would become our saying throughout the rest of the trip, as it often expressed our own sentiment 🙂