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Sigiriya Rock Fort


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SIGIRIYA ROCK FORT


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Sigiriya is a town with a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Central Province, 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 frescos, which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. 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 as Mahavamsa the entire complex was built by King Kashyapa (477 - AD 495), and after the king's death, it was used as a Buddhist monastery until 14th century.

Frescoes

Among the most important features of Sigiriya the Frescos are well known. These have been featured in many tourisim information literature and other books dealing with Sri Lankan heritage. These frescos are seen on the western side of the rock. According to an inscription found here there were 500 paintings. However, only about 29 paintings have been discovered to this date. Almost all the paintings feature beautifull ladies, most of them with bare breasts accompanied by several companions carrying flower baskets. There are many openions regarding the identity of these females. Some say they are divine damsels. some others say they are ladies of the king's court. Some suggest that they were just palace beauties. Few others take them for devotees going to a temple with flowers.

The Mirror Wall

Beyond the fresco gallery the path clings to the sheer side of the rock and is protected on the outside by a 3m high wall.This wall was coated with a smooth glaze upon which visitors of 1000 years ago felt impelled to note their impressions of the women in the gallery above or so says local legend. The graffiti were inscribed between the 6th and 14th centuries, and 685 of them have been deciphered and published in a two volume edition, Sigiri Graffiti, by Dr S Paranavitana. The graffiti are of great interest to scholars because they show the development of the Sinhala language and script, and because they demonstrate an appreciation of art and beauty. You'll have to look hard bevond the modern mess to see the ancient messages.


 

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