Mystery of Sigiriya [3] : “Palace in the sky”

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Sigiriya Rock FortressSigiriya Rock Fortress

As thousands of “weekenders” throng to Sigiriya whenever a holiday falls on a Friday or Monday, often to gaze at the architectural marvels or to gasp at the breathtaking sight from the summit, one cannot help but wonder if anyone would ever unravel the mystery that shrouds this rock citadel, modeled on the mythical abode of “Kuvera” the god of wealth, and called the “Palace in the sky”.

But long before it became a palace, according to www.saadhu.com, through Pre-Historic to Proto-Historic to Early Historic times, the rock was a monastery donated by devotees to the Sangha.

The garden city and the palace is believed to have been built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD) after whose death the monolith, standing 200m above the surrounding planes once more became a monastery which lasted till the 14th Century.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

According to the Mahavamsa, King Kashyapa was a parricide who murdered his father, King Dhatusena, by walling him up, alive, usurped the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana, and to escape the armies of his brother, built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya.

When Moggallana finally managed to reach Kashyapa, the latter had committed suicide at the foot of hisrock citadel.

But this might not be the correct story of Kashyapa, for, Prof. Senarat Paranavitana has given a different version, based on a story written by a monk named Ananda in the 15th Century, who had inscribed his version on stone slabs over which other inscriptions had been made across the years.

The historical novel “Kat bitha” based on these interlinear inscriptions as well as the legends suggests that at one time, a Christian cross had been erected on top of Sigiriya.

In spite of these puzzling details or perhaps because of them, Sigiriya, with the frescos, the water gardens, the moats and the ramparts, designed as an “eco plan” duplicating the lay-out in design on either side, will continue to evoke the admiration and curiosity of travellers for eons to come.

Aditha
Sunday Observer

Also See

Map of  Sigiriya Fortress

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Travel Directions to Sigiriya

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