A cave painting at the "Lion Rock" of Sigiriya, reminiscent of those seen in the Ajanta Caves of India. While no one knows exactly when they were created, they are considered to be part of the Anuradhapura period from the 4th to the 11th century when the ancient city was capital of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka – Fact Check

The story behind a stunning citadel

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Sri Lanka – Fact Check The story behind a stunning citadel

In the middle of a tropical rain forest, visible from far and wide on the top of massive rock, lies perhaps Sri Lanka’s greatest treasure: Sigiriya, a citadel just as spectacular as its history.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

In the fifth century AD, Prince Kassapa was forced to leave the capital of Anuradhapura to come to Sigiriya as he no longer felt safe, and with good reason. In order to gain the throne, he had his father the king, captured and then entombed alive. Mogellana was the rightful heir, but he was forced to flee to India where he spent the next 18 years building an army to reclaim the throne.

However, before Mogellana could have the pleasure of capturing his brother, Kassapa killed himself with a dagger, or so the story goes. Mogellana, now crowned king, established himself once more in the capital and gave the mountain rock back to the monks who had previously lived in the grottos.

Meanwhile, Sigiriya had been transformed into a pleasure palace with massive swimming pools, palace gardens, canals, the palace of clouds, the mirrored wall and fabulous frescos of dancing girls. After only 20 years, these were deserted, silent witnesses to this most tumultuous period in the history of the country.

Now, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world marvel at their faded glory.

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