Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya, in central Sri Lanka, is known for the ruins of a stronghold built around the 6th century CE on a remarkable rock pillar. The rock, rising 180 m above the surrounding plain, is so steep that its top overhangs the sides. On the several acres of ground at the summit, King Kashyapa I built a palace in 477 CE as a safeguard against his enemies [this is disputed; the ruins at the top may well be of a monastery, not a palace]. Visitors began the final ascent through the open jaws and throat (giriya) of a monumental lion (sinha), thus Sigiriya. About halfway up, a section of the rock face is adorned with a series of exquisitely painted apsarases (nymphs) showering flowers, their torsos emerging from clouds. The paintings are dated to the 6th century CE and are reminiscent of contemporary work in India. Sigiriya was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. [—Text adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008]


Sigiriya Rock (info)

One of many water tanks

Water fountain (more, info)

Royal gardens (1, 2, 3)

The start of the climb

Resting monk

Boulder arch #1 (info)

Beware of hornets!


Winding path

Steep climb (more)

To the niche with the frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes (1, 2)

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

The Fresco Wall (1, 2, 3)

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Sigiriya Frescoes

Mirror wall with ancient graffiti
(more, info, info)

View of a terrace from above

Lion's Paws (info)

Visitors by the Lion's Paw

The final climb to the top

On the summit of the rock

Water storage tank (more)

View from above (more)

Foundations of monasteries

Dating back 1500 years

Dates from late 5th cent. CE

Built during King Kassapa's regin

View of the countryside

Stairways and foundations

Stairways and foundations

Ancient meditation spot

Ruins of monasteries

Ancient walls and foundations

Visitor amid the ruins

Visitor amid the ruins

Top of the rock

Meditation spot?

Audience Hall (info)

Asana Cave (info)

On the path coming down

Cobra Hood Cave (info)

Remains of a stupa

View from the royal garden

Moat around Sigiriya

Sigiriya rock in later afternoon

Local restaurant in Sigiriya

Ganesha shrine in a forest

Kataragama on the windshield


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