Sigiriya (Lion’s rock, Sinhalese – සීගිරිය) is a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos) which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. It is also declared by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the World.
Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha. According to the chronicles asMahavamsa the entire complex was built by King Kashyapa (AD 477 – 495), and after the king’s death, it was used as a Buddhist monastery until 14th century.
The Sigiri inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana in his renowned two-volume work, published by Cambridge, Sigiri Graffiti and also Story of Sigiriya.
Sigiriya is located in the Matale District, Central Province in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is within the cultural triangle, which includes five of the eight world heritage sites in Sri Lanka.
The Sigiriya rock is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano. It stands high above the surrounding plain, visible for miles in all directions. The rock rests on a steep mound that rises abruptly from the flat plain surrounding it. The rock itself rises approximately 370 m (1,214 ft) above sea level and is sheer on all sides, in many places overhanging the base. It is elliptical in plan and has a flat top that slopes gradually along the long axis of the ellipse.