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Sigiriya Gardens
Sigiriya Gardens
 
Sigiri Frescos
Sigiri Frescos
 
Fountains
Fountains
 
Corbra Hood Cave
Cobra Hood Cave
 
View from Sky
View from Sky
 
The pools around Sigiri
The pools around Sigiri
 
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SIGIRIYA ZONE    
Sigiriya should have been named one of the Wonders of the World, long ago, and now there is a proposal to name it as the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient world. Better late than never!

Sri Lankan architectural tradition is well displayed at Sigiriya, the best preserved city center in Asia from the first millennium, with its combination of buildings and gardens with their trees, pathways, water gardens, the fusion of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements, use of varying levels and of axial and radial planning.

The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts.

The plan of the city is based on a precise square module. The layout extends outwards from co-ordinates at the center of the palace complex at the summit, with the eastern and western axis directly aligned to it. The water garden, moats and ramparts are based on an ‘echo plan’ duplicating the layout and design on either side. This city still displays its skeletal layout and its significant features. 3 km from east to west and 1 km from north to south it displays the grandeur and complexity of urban-planning in 5th century Sri Lanka.

The World Heritage Site Sri Lankan architectural tradition is well displayed at Sigiriya, the best preserved city center in Asia from the first millennium, with its combination of buildings and gardens with their trees, pathways, water gardens, the fusion of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements,
use of varying levels and of axial and radial planning.

The Complex consists of the central rock, rising 200 meters above the surrounding plain, and the two rectangular precincts on the east (90 hectares) and the west (40 hectares), surrounded by two moats and three ramparts.

The plan of the city is based on a precise square module. The layout extends outwards from co-ordinates at the center of the palace complex at the summit, with the eastern and western axis directly aligned to it. The water garden, moats and ramparts are based on an ‘echo plan’ duplicating the layout and design on either side. This city still displays its skeletal layout and its significant features. 3 km from east to west and 1 km from north to south it displays the grandeur and complexity of urban-planning in 5th century Sri Lanka.
 
Sigiri Frescoes
John Still in 1907 had observed that; "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery.. the largest picture in the world perhaps".
The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, covering an area 140 meters long and 40 meters high. There are references in the Graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings.
 
Sigiri Gardens
The Sigiri Gardens blend together to make the perfect setting for the Lion Mountain. There are few types of garden settings in Sigiriya. Those types have been described here below.
 
Gardens in the western precincts
Sigiriya - Sri LankaThe gateway to the western precinct lies across the inner moat. It had an elaborate gate-house made of timber and brick with a tiled roof. The moat is perfectly aligned with a mountain peak in the distance.

Only the southern side of the garden has been excavated, leaving the identical northern half for the archaeologist of the future. In the entire Sigiri-Bim, over 200 village tanks and rural sites have been investigated.

The water gardens of the western precinct are symmetrically planned, while the boulder garden at a higher level is asymmetrically planned. The water garden displays one of the worlds most sophisticated hydraulic technologies, dating from the Early Historic Period.

This shows an interconnection of macro- and micro-hydraulics to provide for domestic horticultural and agricultural needs, surface drainage and erosion control, ornamental and recreational water courses and retaining structures and also cooling systems.

The Macro system consisted of the Sigiri Maha weva, the man-made lake with a 12 km dam, running south from the base of the rock, a series of moats, two on the west and one on the east fed from the lake. At micro level are, the water control and the water retaining systems at the summit of the rock and at various levels with horizontal and vertical drains cut in to the rock and underground conduits made of cylindrical terra cotta pipes.
 
Water Gardens
The miniature water garden just inside the inner wall of the western precinct, consists of water pavilions, pools, cisterns, courtyards, conduits and water courses. The pebbled or marbled water-surrounds covered by shallow slowly moving water would have served as cooling devices with an aesthetic appeal with visual and sound effects, which could be visualized by a visitor who could spend a little time.

The largest water garden has a central island surrounded by water and linked to the main precinct by cardinally-oriented causeways. This was created 5 centuries before those at Angkor in Cambodia or Mughal gardens in India. The central island would have been occupied by a large pavilion.

The water is in four L-shaped pools, connected by underground water conduits at varying depths, to provide different water levels. The pool on the south-west, is divided into a large bathing pool, with a corbelled tunnel and steps leading down into it. The other pool is smaller with a central boulder on which was a brick-built pavilion.

The fountain garden is a narrow precinct on two levels. Western half has two long and deep pools, with shallow serpentine streams draining into the pools. These had been paved with marble slabs. These streams display the fountains, which have been made from circular limestone plates with symmetrical perforations, which are fed by underground water conduits and operate by gravity and pressure. There are two shallow limestone cisterns which would have served as storage and pressure chambers for the fountains. These fountains are still active during the rainy season from November to January.

On either side of the fountains are four large moated islands , oriented north-south, cutting across the central axis of the water garden. This too shows the symmetrical repetition. The flattened surfaces of the islands were meant for the Summer Palaces or ‘water pavilions’. Access to the pavilions were across bridges cut into the surface rock.

The Octagonal pond is at a point where the water garden and the boulder garden meet, a still higher level from the rest of the water garden. It is at the base of a towering boulder. There is a raised podium and a drip ledge, which would have formed the bathing pavilion . The pond is surrounded by a wide terrace also octagonal.
 
Boulder Garden
The boulder garden at a higher level from the symmetrical water garden is a totally different organic or asymmetrical concept, with winding pathways, natural boulders. Almost every rock and boulder in this garden must have had a building of brick and timber. It also has the Cistern Rock which has a large cistern made of huge slabs of granite. There is also the Audience Hall rock, with a 5 metre long throne carved out of the rock.

The entrance to the inner citadel (15 hectares) is made of a massive brick and stone wall, which forms a dramatic backdrop to the water garden and to the rock and the palace on the summit towards the east of it. The wall runs from the Octagonal pond to the bastion on the south-east, which is formed of wide brick walls linking a series of boulders surrounding a cave pavilion with a rock-cut throne.
 
Terrace Garden
The Terrace Garden at the base of the rock is fashioned out of the natural hill , made with rubbled retaining walls, each terrace running in a concentric circle around the rock, each rising above the other.

The Palace garden on the summit was the domestic garden with its terraces and rock cut pools.
 
Sigiriya The Great Legend
Sigiriya is very famous because of its frescos. It is important as an heritage site not only because of the frescos but also wonderful eastern technology, aesthetics, religious background, safety situation and many more. And it was also important as a ruling center.

Sigiriya was converted into a luxury palace for the first time by the King Kashyapa I (477-497 A.D.). Most of the currently remaining ruins are came from that era, but number of years before the Kashyapa I, Sigiriya has popularized as a King's residence, a castle, beautiful garden and a buddhist temple.

There are few 'Brahmee' scripts here, say that in 3rd to 4th century B.C. this area was given for buddhist monks as a temple with stone caves. Several cave brahmee scripts are mentioning the names who had given those caves for monks to live but in the history of Sigiriya, there is no such information between 2nd and 5th century A.D. In the 'Mahawansa' we meet as the first information about Sigiriya is the King Kashyapa's Kingdom.
 
The 'Kurutu Gee' (Ancient Poems about Sigiriya)
Those poems have been written in between 6th and 13th centuries A.D. There are 685 poems on 'Ketapath Paura' (the ancient wall limits the staircase), 14 were written in a cave at the foot of Sigiriya rock. These poems are written by people who came to see the Sigiriya and became wonder by seeing it, and it's frescos. 'Sigiri Gee' is the oldest of the very large history of Sri Lankan poetries. Reading and understanding these, we can imagine ancient Sri Lankan civilian society. Those poems are very short and letters are very small in size.
 
The Buddhist Background at Sigiriya
A piller script of King Sena XI (853-857 A.D.), mentioned that a temple called 'Saguna Panhala', was situated at about 9 Km North East from Sigiriya. Several stone scripts of the same period also prove that, there was a well formed buddhist culture surrounded Sigiriya. Another writing which found in Anuradhapura, 'Abhayagiri Seya' says that a place called 'Sigiri Maha Se', a temple near Sigiriya.
 
Sigiriya Near Past
A relic hunting around Sigiriya found a coin, related to the period of Queen Lilawathi (1197-1212). The Northern Central Kingdoms of Sri Lanka was broken down in the 13th century. After that, Sigiriya and near Sigiriya areas are gone under the forest. Therefore the Sri Lankan ancient vedda people started live there. After that vedda's period Sri Lankan 'Vanni' civilization ruled this ares.

After this we can find information about Sigiriya in the period of Kandy Seethawaka King Rajasinghe I (1548-1597). He gave the excuse for 'Shiwa' prayers to make castles in some places of the country. That is called 'Sath Siva Mandulla'. One of these castles was situated near Sigiriya. This was destroyed totally by King Vimaladharmasooriya I (1497-1602). In additionally, King Rajasinghe II (1635-1687) had used solders from Sigiriya area to fight with Portuguese.
 
Attention of Present People to Sigiriya
The first attention made by Major Fobus in 1840. He has mentioned it in his book of 'Eleven Years in Ceylon'. He was a solder and one day while riding a horse to Polonnaruwa, he saw the rock of Sigiriya and visited. That was in 1831 and he saw large number of ruins there. He arrived there again in 1833. He is the first person who reveal the Sigiriya to the world.

In 1851 two engineers named David and Adams and Jeyraj Wijekoon climbed to the top of Sigiriya. Again in 1870 Ease Davids and Madam Blaventski went there and published a map of Sigiriya for the first time. In 1889 traced and copied Frescos for the first time by an engineer Alex Mare.
1894 - H.C.P. Bell went to Sigiriya
1895 - Start digging relics at Sigiriya Area
1896 and 1897 D.A.L. Perera copied frescos for the second time and can be able to taken an excellent copy.
H.C.P. Bell has taken a great effort to reveal the Sigiriya to the world. He is the premier to create the steel ladder.
1899 - Found the remains of Sigiriya Lion Sculpture
1905 - Sigiriya reservation project started.
 
 
 
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