Sigiriya, A tribute to Great King Kashyapa

By : Dinesh Deckker
Contact the Author : dineshdsd@gmail.com | 0716- 818740
Year & Month Number of Days Crew Weather Transport
Aug, 2010 3 3 Sunny Car
Trip Route
Colombo->Dambulla->Sigiriya
Accommodation
Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela

Travel Tips, Travel Notes and Special remarks
  • Special Thanks to LAKDASUN.ORG organizing the event.
  • Special Thanks to Yohan for arranging accommodation in Back of Beyond – Dehigaha Ela eco retreat.
  • Better to carry water at least 1L stock PP.
  • Wearing sarongs or skirts not recommended
  • Leave only foot Prints

This travelogue is dedicated to Great King Kashayapa who constructed this miracle and to H.C.P Bell the gentlemen who re-discovered Sigiriya.

I would first like to thank the Archeological Department Staff and Cultural Triangle staff stationed there, although there are pros and cons of some work I must thank them as I could never even think of doing a job like that. Some maintenance jobs are so risky and it’s simply a matter of life and death. In 1831 Major Jonathan Forbes of the 78th Highlanders of the British Army while returning on horseback from a trip to Polonnaruwa is reported to have come across the “bush covered summit of Sigiriya”.

Also I would like to thank H.C.P Bell the great archeologist who re-discovered Sigiriya, Sir without you we would never be able to see frescos. Also I would like to thank the great archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana for interpreting ancient truths about our great country. Also my heartfelt thank goes to Italian Citizen “Luciano Marenci” for cleaning the painting after unfortunate accident happened in 1967.

I my self last visited Sigiriya 11 years ago and I planned to visit the site many times, yet failed. The event organized by lakdasun.org to climb Pidurangala was tempting for me and my wife as we really wanted to explore Sigiriya.

We began our journey from Kadawatha and on our way we visited few other places and it was almost 11AM when we reached to our destination. My travel partner Nirmal and my self wanted to get the best view of Sigiriya so we traveled to “Thalkote Wewa”. From there we were able to get the best view of both Sigiriya and Pidurangala.

We were able to see mirror wall, stairway to fresco’s and the stairway to the top clearly from that location.
We stayed there for a while enjoying the views and returned back to Sigiriya car park. Pity we didn’t know that there is a car park near the entrance. We had to purchase tickets which were 100 rupees PP and I must say, the ticket is very colorful and interesting.

Then we walked more than 1 ½ KM to come to Sigiriya entrance. On our way we stopped at a shop had watermelon which helped us to prevent getting dehydrated. By the way it is not recommended to eat while walking through the small forest before Sigiriya as monkeys might attack you and it had happened earlier. There were warning boards, which most doesn’t care…
After we walked around 1KM we came across Sigiriya museum and we passed that and walked arnother 500 meters to reach Inner Moa(Ethul Diya Agala) which was a water stream with man eating crocodiles around Sigiriya rock fortress and enemies had to cross that to enter Sigiriya. Ticket checking counter is just before entering Sigiriya.

In fact Sigiriya was a rock shelter mountain monastery from 5BC and King Kashayapa constructed caves for Buddhist Sangha in Pidurangala before occupying Sigiriya which was noble. After King Kashyapa’s death in 495AD, bikku’s occupied the Sigiriya and it was a monastery complex up to 14th century. As we walking along the garden section of Sigiriya we could see the architectural miracles of our ancestors. The gardens were divided in to three categories water gardens, Cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens but all linked together.

To witness the architectural greatness of planning the gardens of Sigiriya you need to view it from the top of Sigiriya.

King Kassapa | Kashyapa
He ruled the country from 473 to 495 AD. He was the second king of the royal Moriyan dynasty of Sri Lanka. Kashyapa is credited with the construction of the Sigiriya citadel and the surrounding city. He acquired the throne by overthrowing his father, King Dhatusena, and usurping his brother and rightful heir to the throne, Moggallana/Mugalan, in a palace coup. He imprisoned and later executed his father. After this incident he fled to Sigiriya which is in Matale district and he build one of the greatest palaces known to men. He was later defeated by Moggallana, who had fled to South India and returned with an army to regain the throne. Kashyapa was killed in the battle that ensued.

Although King Kashyapa was labeled as a killer, according to Mahawamsa it is said that Dhatusena’s daughter was married to his sister’s son Migara and the general of his army. Following an argument between his daughter and sister, Dhatusena ordered his sister (Migaras’ Mother) to be killed. In reprisal, Migara encouraged and assisted Kassapa to overthrow the king and take the throne. Kassapa eventually rebelled against Dhatusena and overthrew him. Dhatusena was imprisoned and Kassapa became the king of the country in 473.

While observing the greatness, we never forgot to clarify the facts as much as possible from the officers stationed there. They are willing to help, but nobody ask them anything. We moved forward and some steps were slippery, so we had to be careful when climbing.
After few minutes walk we reached a place where we can see mirror wall and spiral steps leads to frescos clearly.
When we walked along mirror wall we were sad to see the wall destroyed by the travelers. They have written their names on the wall and etc.

Mirror wall used as a mirror, so well polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of a kind of porcelain, the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock. Well preserved, the mirror wall has verses dating from the 8th century. People of all types wrote on the wall, on varying subjects such as love, irony, and experiences of all sorts.

It was a very big news item that Sigiriya frescos were damaged by some kind insect and it happened after destroying wasps. But it was a lie. We compared the facts and information and it proved to be a misuse of media. The Sigiriya frescos is covered by a protected net and even a fly cant get inside so how am I to believe that Wasps come inside to eat the insect destroying Sigiriya paintings.

What happened was Archeological dept applied Distilled water on a painting which was already damaged during paint attack to remove the paint stains but it didn’t work and some minor damage has been done.

We studied the paintings more than 20 minutes and many people came through but they didn’t ask a single word from the officer in charge. Remember always get information from the respected people and compare information and educate your self. It is better to learn something rather that just visiting the paintings. The stairway to the frescos was done by H.C.P Bell renowned archeologist.

Some interpreted the paintings as celestial maidens going to worship Pindurangala. Some as the images of 500 wives King Kassapa had. What ever the interpretation is all the women in paintings are different and the fact is they are facing Pidurangala.

According to the information we got from the officer in charge in Sigiriya cave, the Sigiriya rock was fully plastered in white and was painted fully. Most of the pictures were painted on the western side of the rock bed and it is said King Kashyapa enjoyed the reflection of the paintings when the sun sets on his water garden. It happened to be believable as we saw the remaining of some paintings just outside the cave. The other paintings and the plaster might have destroyed by the forces of nature. As cave is protected from rain it was protected.
Around half and hour later we descended using spiral stairway and continued the journey towards top. After some walk we came across the Lions Gate and we had some water and rested a bit. Beyond this point there was a continuous climb towards the top.
We were surprised and glad to notice that stairway to the top was modified recently and it’s in tip top condition. After few minutes’ continuous climb we were at the top and the view from the top was spectacular. I couldn’t even imagine how it would have been if the castle was still there. We could clearly see Pindurangala, the scared place we were planning to climb in the evening.

We hurried back as we were hungry. We used a different route to descend and it was very easy compared to the ascending route. There are some metal hooks engraved into the Sigiriya rock bed. Have you all ever noticed?

It was confusing my mind and finally we educate our self on that. The hooks were used to create a platform when they were constructing the Spiral stairway to frescos and also still use those to create platform for maintenance. I believe I have stated earlier that the Archeological dept and Cultural Triangle doing a great service to our country by preserving and doing maintenance on Sigiriya. The below picture shows a platform used to do the maintenance below mirror wall. Can you work on that?? I can’t…

On our way back we were able to see royal assembly room and many boulders in boulder garden. From that the “Nai Pena Guhawa” was special as it looked like a snake and there were paintings inside.

Next to “Nai pena Guhawa” lies the old road to go to the top of Sigiriya, a challenging one indeed. Anyway we returned to the car park and it was a very successful journey.

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If you your vehicle need any repair or to change tires there is a garage close by “Gayan Morters” and their service is excellent if you miss this one you will need to go to Dambulla to repair..

Accommodation – Back of Beyond – Dehigaha Ela Eco Retreat
To Book Call:
0777 753 975

Back of Beyond is located few kilometers away from utmost important tourist attraction, the 8th wonder of the world Sigiriya and scenic and ancient important archeological site Pindurangala. You can reach the property both from Sigiriya and Dambulla.

I must say, Back of Beyond – Dehigaha Ela was a unique experience for me and my wife. We stayed on a tree house and it was great! The most important fact is the Kirioya which starts from Nuwaragala and Dehiga Ela meets in the backyard of the property and it continues flowing to Minneriya Lake. This is a paradise for an eco traveler and who is interested in bird watching and the experienced in house Naturalist can guide you on bird watching. Also resort can arrange a tour with an experienced guide to visit Sigiriya, Pindurangala and Nuwaragala (the castle of King Mahasen).

By the way food was delicious and traditional, of course it’s tasty and we loved it… Altogether there are 2 cottages and 2 tree houses which can accommodate up to 25 people easily.

So go and experience… I can assure you that it will be a new experience for you…

Have a Safe Journey!

Usually “Ambalam” were built in a chosen spots such as by the side of a paddy field or stream

Commonly “Ambalam” were simple buildings built by villagers on co-operative basis. They were consisted with a hipped type tiled roof on few timber or masonry columns. Perimeter walls were short and formed a seat for resting known as “Pila”.

Few were built totally with timber structures. In such a case, the Ambalama was built on four rock boulders to prevent from termite attacks. Panavitiya (or Panapitiya) was one of the said few.

Directions…

Chamila(My wife) & I visited Panavitiya few months ago. Finding the Panavitiya Ambalama was not difficult although there was no sign board on the main road (Negombo-Kurunegala). The turn-off was nearly 3km before reaching Narammala town, where the road leading to the Matiyagana School. Having traveling another few kilometers we had to turn left again.

we reached the Archeological site passing a temple

“Sri Lanka Thilakaramaya“ the temple @ Panavitiya

With nearly 4km drive from the main road, we reached the Archeological site passing a temple. In the first moment, having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama, I was also confused as like as most of the previous travelers, whether we had reached the correct place. But once we entered in to the shelter, we could discover the wonder of wood carvings that Panavitiya was so famous for.

The boutique located in front of the Archeological site

Little confused having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama

wonders of wood carvings

Inside view

Beams, rafters & ridge plate

A dancer??

Column heads & wall plates

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