(39) Visit to Sri Lanka's iconic Sigiriya Rock - Visit the Sigiriya Lady, which is also compared to the Ajanta Mural

Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (39)
Visit to Sri Lanka's iconic Sigiriya Rock - Visit the Sigiriya Lady, also compared to the Ajanta Mural

Polonnaruwa, which I saw the day after my disappointment in Dambulla, was truly a wonderful place. My feelings toward Sri Lanka have been fluctuating like a roller coaster over the past two days. Now, what kind of place is Sigiriya where I am going to visit from now on?

Sigiriya RockWikipedia.

Sigiriya is located exactly halfway between Dambulla and Polonnaruwa, as shown on this map.

In fact, I had already seen Sigiriya Rock on the way to Polonnaruwa the day before. A huge monolith suddenly appearing in the jungle. It was indeed a mysterious sight.

Sigiriya ladyWikipedia.

The most famous work in Sigiriya is the Sigiriya Lady, a 5th century nymph whose paintings have been compared to the wall paintings of the Ajanta Grottoes in India.

Ajanta Mural(23) Enjoy the masterpieces of Indian Buddhist painting at the Ajanta Grottoes! Visit the amazing Buddhist ruins that have been forgotten for a thousand years."See article on

Before reporting on the actual situation at Sigiriya, I will give an explanation of the ruins. I will also refer to the following book written by Teruji ItoAn Introduction to Sri Lankan Buddhist Art.It is.

Sigiriya is properly called "Singhagiri," where Singha means lion and Giri means rock, so the whole place means "lion's rock. The fortress around this rock was large, and there was a palace on the summit of this rock, as well as on the west side at the foot of the mountain. It was King Kassapa I, who appeared in the fifth century, who created the great spectacle that included it. At that time, the capital was located in Anuradhapura, as already mentioned in the previous chapter. However, King Kassapa was a unique king in the history of Sri Lanka, who settled in Sigiriya and made it his fortress.

Therefore, Sigiriya was associated with this King Kassapa, and murals were painted, and the beautiful celestial figures remain today.

Yuzankaku, Teruji Ito, An Introduction to Sri Lankan Buddhist Art, p.27-28

Sigiriya is an archaeological site preserved thanks to the eccentric King Kassapa I, who wanted to build his own palace here despite the presence of the capital, Anuradhapura.

And the reason why Sigiriya is called the "Lion's Rock" will become clear when you actually visit the site.

Unfortunately, it rained again today. But there is no use in being discouraged. It is not the kind of rain we despaired of in Haridwar, India. The rain here is even pleasant. I can say that there was almost no discomfort for me.

From here, a straight pathway led to Sigiriya Rock, and the view from this pathway was also interesting.

I want you to look at the next picture. On the left side of the passageway are the mostly undisturbed ruins. On the right side of the passage were the ruins after excavation.

The left side across the aisle is untouched, while the right side has been excavated and restored.

This is interesting! It is obvious at a glance what the site looked like before excavation. There were probably many more trees growing on top of this grassy area. It would be almost impossible to tell what was here. It is very nice that these before and afters are placed directly across the aisle from each other.

I was very satisfied with this. It was very different from Dambulla. I was very happy to see this kind of consideration.

It came quite close. It is indeed powerful. We are going to climb it now.

We climbed up the rock crevices by stairs. It was another good workout.

The very foot of Sigiriya Rock. It is no longer a mountain but a cliff.

Now comes the hard part. We climbed up the stairs built along the rock face. We had to be careful because there was not only rain but also strong wind.

We have come quite a way up. Looking back again, we can see that the passage was built in an extraordinary place.

When we reached the halfway point, we came to a square. From this square, we climbed up to the top, where we found a famous feature of Sigiriya Rock.

Here it is.

The stairway passageway forcibly built on such a near-vertical rock face is surprising, but look at the bottom of the photo. You can see what looks like the toes of some kind of animal.

That's right. This is the remnant of the huge lion sculpture that gave Sigiriya its name.

It is said that there used to be a huge lion statue here. Now only the tip of the lion's toe remains, but it is said that there was a lion's face and body made of bricks and plaster on top of this statue. Moreover, the lion opened its mouth wide, and people climbed up the stairs to enter its mouth, and from there they walked through the body to the palace at the top. What a grand scale of playfulness! As expected of the eccentric King Kassapa I. No ordinary imagination could have come up with such a thing. Even if he had come up with such an idea, he would not have thought of realizing it.

There used to be a really huge lion here. The royal palace was located at the top of the peak on its back.

The pathway around the lion statue was narrow and the wind and rain were very strong, so it was quite dangerous. As expected, I could not hold my camera. This is a picture taken after the climb. We finally reached the top of the Sigiriya Rock.

This is the old site of the king at the top. Only the flat foundation remains. As was the case with Mihintaleh, it is better to look up from below rather than up on top of the stage.

Unfortunately, it was raining, so visibility was limited, but on a good day, it is said that a panoramic view of the area is possible.

The passageway we had just walked down was also visible from above.

Near the top of the mountain are the remains of what was once there. Looking at the ruins of this royal palace in the sky, I felt as if I were in Machu Picchu (although I have never been to Machu Picchu).

Still, one wonders how such a large amount of building materials were transported to such a high place. As we have seen, Sigiriya Rock is a huge monolith that suddenly appears in the jungle. It is not an ordinary mountain. Besides, how could they have carried out such a large construction work at such a high place? How did they secure the manpower and get them to work? It was a mystery. I couldn't help but wonder.

The descent is scarier than the ascent. You have to keep your eyes on the road below, and the rain makes it slippery.

After safely descending to the lion's square, I continued on my way and finally headed for the Sigiriya Ladies.

The passageway must have been built in an amazing place. The passageway must have been carved out of the rock face.

Finally, we came close to the grotto where the Sigiriya Lady is depicted.

The steel-framed part in the photo on the right looks like a spiral staircase, and when you climb up it, you will finally meet the Sigiriya Lady.

Unfortunately, however, photography is currently prohibited due to cultural asset protection. Here are some quotes from Wikipedia.

I was amazed at the vividness of the colors when I actually saw them there. I was also happy to see them much closer than I had imagined. I had expected to see the site under more strict control, as I was told that photography was prohibited.

And as the guide told me, I realized that these paintings are one-shot drawings, so if you make a mistake, it will be left behind. This is evident in the painting above. I hope you will look for it, too.

There were many statues of celestial maidens painted in this grotto, but the quality of this painting is overwhelming.

At the stage where I had seen and studied the murals in books and images beforehand, I thought they were similar to the murals in Ajanta, but when I actually arrived, I could feel the differences.

While Ajanta is delicately drawn with fine outlines, this one has a more vigorous touch itself, and the contours are firmly defined.

How is it possible to express such elegance and delicacy with such a powerful touch? The twist of the hips, the fleshiness of the abdomen, and the degree of squashiness are truly wonderful.

The lotus-armed bodhisattva of Ajanta also expressed perfect fingertips, but this Sigiriya lady radiated from her fingertips something like intellectual strength, something that cannot be described merely as graceful.

Oh no, this is great! This is good! Sri Lanka is really good! Since yesterday, the reputation of Sri Lanka has been on the upswing.

I was very satisfied with Sigiriya Rock. It was such a fascinating place that I did not feel so tired even after climbing up that huge rock. I highly recommend this place in Sri Lanka.

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