Sigiriya is a place of historical interest and should interest any visitor especially one who is a student of history. Then mere sight of the rock fortress at Sigiriya would stun any visitor. While climbing it and on reaching the top they would be filled with wonder at the aesthetic sense of the king who built it. Sigiriya takes one back to the past and shows visitors what our ancestors were capable of doing. No tourist would like to get away from Sri Lanka without a visit to Sigiriya. Sigiriya is a rock fortress and has been built around the 600 feet tall rock. It acted as capital of the country in the 5th century A.D. It was the glorious art gallery and palace fortress of King Kashyapa of 5th century A.D. The name Sigiriya has many explanations. The most popular translates “giriya” as throat of a crouching lion that one passes one’s way to the summit. The garden city and the palace was built by Kashyapa 477 – 495 A.D. Then after Kashyapa’s death it was a monastery complex upto about the 15th century. The “Mahavamsa” the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes king Kashyapa as a parricide, who murdered his father king Dhatusena by walling him up alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana. To escape from the armies of Mogallana, Kashyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya, but Mogallana finally managed to get Kashyapa and he commited suicide.
The palace was built on the top of the rock while below spangled the water garden not second to similar gardens in the world. On the western and northern side is a gallery with a highly polished wall. Even today after 15 centuries of exposure to sun, rain and wind one can see one’s reflection on it. So it is named the ‘mirror wall’. The famous Sigiriya maidens are on the western face of the Sigiriya rock. There is evidence that there were 500 portraits of the maidens but only 19 remains today. Some of the paintings were damaged. The summit of the rock is nearly 300 acres in extent. It has pleasure gardens full of ponds islets and pavilions. The Sigiriya paintings and the shape of the rock have made Sigiriya world famous and a significant milestone in Sri Lanka cultural heritage.