Monday, February 15, 2016

Sri Lanka - Part 11 - Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a palace fortress perched on top of a huge 600+ ft high granite outcrop. Presumably this outcrop is the remaining core of a 2 billion year old volcano. The whole complex has the aesthetics of a royal resort rather than an impregnable fortress. It has gardens and pools and places for leisure pavilions on top of large boulders. The formal gardens have the "char bagh" (4-part garden) idealized by the Persians and Mughals, but predate the earliest of these Persian gardens by a few centuries. It also had the playfulness of the Nek Chand Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India.

Walking through the formal gardens with Sigiriya Rock ahead.
The stairs go under giant boulder arches.
The path wanders through brick terraces constructed around boulders while starting the ascent up the rock.
The "Mirror Wall" -- a large screen that had large paintings (mostly of beautiful women) on it. The paintings have long since faded away. The path goes behind this wall, and was inscribed by graffiti poetry -- mostly of the romantic sort.
You can just barely see the spiral staircase that goes up to another set of paintings -- well preserved in a niche in the rock. All of these paintings would have been visible to people in the gardens below.
Sigiriya is probably the number one tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, and since it was Sunday, the grounds were quite crowded, and the queue to get up to the top was long.
The spiral staircase up to the paintings. The start of the  Mirror Wall is to the left of the stairs.
At the Lion Terrace, the stairs continue between the paws of a sitting lion.
A closer view of the lion's paw. The original structure would have been made of brick, covered with plaster and painted.
We made it to the top! All 1,000+ stairs.
The top of the rock had a palace at the very top and other royal structures on several levels of terraces. The view is incredible - even on a hazy day.
The royal bathing tank. The set of light steps to the left was reserved for the king.
Near the bathing tank.
Yes, I have a fascination with brick/masonry walls (and doors).
On the way down you get a top view of the lion's paws.
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped to get a full view of Sigiriya.
Zooming in to see just the top of the rock.
And finally, a view of the top of the rock. At this magnification you can finally see people -- gives a feel for the size. (For the record, my camera has a 20x zoom.)
Google Earth has some fantastic satellite views of the site. Worth a look.

Now for a change of subject.

The "Eat Your Yard" sign at our hotel in Dambulla. The Rangiri Dambullah Resort. The resort has large vegetable gardens and grows much of the organic produce used in its kitchen.
Most of the "rooms" are luxury tents in the fashion of an African tented camp.

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