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Wonders of Sigiriya!

April 21, 2021, 4:19 p.m. by David Hilton ( 467 views)

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Sigirya, an ancient rock fortress located in Sri Lanka is one of the worlds most stunning historical sites. Often less talked about in comparisonwith other sites like the Egyptian Pyramids or India’s Taj Mahal, Sigiriya is equally as stunning and intriguing. Sigirya is a UNESCO world heritage location and consists of a wider complex of fortifications, canal-ways, irrigation channels built around a central fortress like structure on-top of a rocky hill. Official records mention that the complex was built by a certain King Kashyapa of Lanka around 480 AD. The motive for building this structure was to shift the existing capital from the traditional site of Anuradhapura.

water lily |Karuwaki speaks

There are a number of conflicting stories about King Kashyapa himself and how his reign progressed. Moreover mythological and traditional folklore attribute this site to even further past in history to King Ravana. Indeed there is evidence to suggest that the area around the rock has been inhabited since pre-historic times. Legends attribute the elaborate planning and construction seen with the rock fort and the extending areas to be the work of none other than King Ravana. Sigiriya was one of his main forts and strongholds, with a particular section of the fort built atop the rock said to be ‘Ravana Throne’ (pictured below).

Regardless of its origin the site is baffling for many reasons and historians till this date struggle to explain the complete details surrounding it.

Wonders-of-Sigiriya |Karuwaki speaks

To understand the marvel of Sigirya one must appreciate that the builders managed to construct and carve structures on-top of a 660 ft high natural rock structure. However no ancient stairs can be found on the rock. How did ancient builders manage to transport tools, equipment and raw materials up the cliff face without any permanent stairs or ladder-way.

Wonders-of-Sigiriya |Karuwaki speaks

The stairs that one sees today are all relatively modern installations. Indeed the site atop the rock column was even lost to the local population for years, before a British Army officer happened to come across it whilst climbing the rock for surveys.

Wonders-of-Sigiriya |Karuwaki speaks

So how was the construction atop the rock hill carried out if no structures or pathways existed (before modern-day ones were built) from the ground all the way to the top. At the base of the rock there does exist a stunning set of stairs that only goes up partially. These stairs are surrounded by sculptures of massive feet attributed to a lion-like or ancient reptilian deity. Other sources say the feet are meant to be ‘Ravana feet’.

Wonders-of-Sigiriya |Karuwaki speaks

On the whole Sigirya is a site that deserves a lot more interest from historians and explorers alike. The structures below, on-top and surrounding the rock are anything but simple in design and scale. Hundreds of thousands of bricks are estimated to be used on-top of the rock. This is along with large rock blocks and massive sections of hard-rock (granite) carved out. Any modern-day mechanical and construction engineer would say this is an incredibly difficult feat even with technology available today. The fort on top is built in such a way that it can have fresh water supply throughout the year. There is a large tank carved out, which is somehow connected to a system of springs that reach all the way to the ground. Whether this is natural or artificially designed needs to be ascertained. However this means even in scorching summers the resident (s) of the fort would always have a reliable water supply.

Wonders-of-Sigiriya |Karuwaki speaks

A midst the grandeur of the rock fort and its base structures itself it is easy to forget that Sigiriya is a much larger complex extending miles outwards from the rock. This consists of irrigation channels, walls, fortifications, moats and gardens all planned perfectly and geometrically aligned with the rock. This may not be obvious from the bottom but can be seen when viewed from atop the rock.

So if you have a chance to travel after the pandemic is over why not head over to Sri-Lanka and discover for yourself the mysteries and wonders of Sigirya. Whether Ravana or the famed king Kashyapa, the builder certainly had advanced knowledge of construction that rivals our know-how today.

- David Hilton

-He is a Bachelors (Hons) in History and Religious Studies.

-He currently works as a vertical lead for Advertising and Marketing firm in the U.K. Outside of work he still maintains a keen interest in history and current affairs

-Alternative History and Modern Geo-Political trends are his two main research interests.

-Besides this he is also passionate about brand management and increasing engagement with digital audiences.

Comments (1)

AnonymousUser 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Srilanka is in turmoil!