Sigiriya was created by King Kasyapa who reigned between 477-495 AD. The summit of this almost inaccessible rock is 180 m (600 ft) above the surrounding jungle, and was the setting for a courtly paradise of elegant pavilions amid gardens and pools. The rock was transformed into a recumbent lion by the addition of a brick-built head and foreparts of which only the paws remain. The rock’s natural defenses were augmented by broad moats and stone perimeter walls. In the event of an enemy approach, the outer moat was built so as to flood the entire area between the two moats.
• The terraced gardens slope down to the boulder gardens and then to the geometrically laid out water gardens, with running water and fountains, pools and ponds, aquatic flowers and birds, and tropical trees. The entire water garden is in a walled enclosure.
• The miniature water garden was discovered not long ago. It has winding waterways, shallow reflecting pools, cobbled watercourses, marbled floors and an intricate layer of tiled roof buildings.
Picturesque boulders of various sizes can be found here. These are linked together by winding pathways and paved passages, with boulder arches and limestone stairways. The honeycombed holes on these boulders are merely footings for brick and timber edifices. These boulders also have fascinating rock carvings.
Merging with the boulder gardens are the terraced gardens, with each terrace rising above the other. Impressive brick-built staircases with limestone steps traverse the terraces, providing access to the uppermost terrace and onwards to the Sigiriya Rock itself.
These are one of the highlights of Sigiriya. These figures of women are depicted as rising from clouds and are known as “the cloud damsels”. They are depicted in three quarter profile. Shown in three quarter profile, the paintings have striking diversity in mood and personality, face and body, clothes and make-up. Flowers are used in profusion in their hair, in baskets and in various forms. Originally, there were over 500 paintings drawn across the face of Sigiriya Rock forming a gigantic gallery of paintings. This covered an area almost twice as large as a football field. These paintings may perhaps have been the largest murals ever attempted by man. However, only 23 of these remain today.
The inner palace occupies the higher western sections. The outer palace occupies the lower eastern sections and the palace gardens cover the south. They all converge on a large and lovely rock-cut pool, probably used for water storage. This 3 acre site is stupendous and the view is breath taking with its thousands of marbled steps and walkways.