Sigiriya - UNESCO World Heritage Site
More of a impeccable fortress the ruins of the palace and a city built by King Kassapa lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 370 m high, called the 'Lion's Rock', which dominates the jungle from all sides. A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site of only the granite carved paws remain to this day. Sigiriya is unique outstanding from many other cities and palaces is a witness to the civilization of Ceylon during the years of the reign of King Kassapa. The site of the 'Lion Mountain' was visited from the 6th century AD, by passionate admirers. The frescoes of Sigiriya maybe is a story book of how life would have been spent inside the fort at all its glory. The poems inscribed on the rock by certain of these admirers, and known as the 'Sigiri graffiti,' are among the most ancient texts in the Sinhalese language, and thus show the considerable influence exerted by the abandoned city of Kassapa on both literature and thought. The neighboring plateau, has been inhabited since the 3rd century BC, as attested by the graffiti which proliferate in the grottoes and the shelters of the Buddhist monks, latest discoveries indicates traces of a prehistoric civilization also.
The fame of the 'Lion Mountain' is, however is due to the story behind the fort.. King Kassapa the creater of Sigiriya, son of Dhatusena only came to power after he had engineered the assassination of his father and briefly dispossessed his brother. Fearing the vengeance of his brother, Kassapa had a fortified palace built on the rock which was reputed to be impregnable. However, it was there that he was defeated after a short but cruel battle in 495. After the death of Kassapa, his brother Moggallana returned the site of Sigiriya back to the monks. During the eleven years that Kassapa resided in Sigiriya, he created a residence of exceptional splendor and founded his capital there, At the summit of the rock is the fortified palace with its ruined buildings, its cisterns and its rock sculptures. At the foot of the rock are the two quarters of the lower city which are defended by a massive wall: the eastern quarter (perhaps postdating the 5th century), which has not been sufficiently excavated, and the aristocratic quarter of the capital of Kassapa, noteworthy for its terraced gardens embellished by canals and fountains, as well as for numerous monumental remains which have been disengaged from the forest which had invaded the ruins.
Halfway up the rock, within an inaccessible rocky shelter in the vertical wall of the western face are rock paintings which have brought universal acclaim to the site of Sigiriya - 'The Maidens of the Clouds', 21 non-identified female figures, comparable to the beautiful creations of Ajanta caves in India is found here.