Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, has fascinated me since the first postage stamp was issued by Sri Lanka with the famous Sigiriya Frescoes. This year, I had the opportunity to visit and climb Sigiriya Rock.
Sigiriya Rock is the hardened magma plug left behind by an eroded, ancient volcano. But it is more than that. It is the site of an ancient fortress which was surrounded by landscaped gardens. The remnants of both the fortress and gardens can be seen, and the site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The first image is thanks to my partner’s trusty Canon point-and-shoot, included here to give context to the images that follow.
When we started our climb, the landscaped gardens were cool and almost magical in the morning light. We felt awed to think that the steps we climbed and the walls around us were, according to tradition, over 1600 years old.
Part-way up the steep face of the rock, in a protected area, I finally encountered the Sigiriya Frescoes or Maidens. Scholars are not in total agreement over who or what the Frescoes represent. Only 19 maidens now survive the original set of 500. Painted in the style known as “fresco lustro,” colours are still vibrant, and they have survived the ages and even a vandal attack in the last century.
Further up the rock is what was originally the impressive formal entrance to the fortress – Lion Entrance. The head of the lion is now no longer, but the huge forepaws and steps remain.
Finally a little bit of the view from the top. Sigiriya definitely does not disappoint.