A trip to Sri Lanka most often starts and ends southwards. The beautiful beaches work their charm so effortlessly that one can’t think beyond Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle and Unawatuna among other beachside towns. We fell for the spell too, with no regret, but luckily the ancient architecture loving wife managed to include Sigiriya in our list of places to visit. About three hours drive away from Kandy, Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is a rock fortress that according to ancient scriptures was built by King Ravana’s father. The fort was abandoned after the death of Ravana, but years later a successor, King Kasyapa, reconstructed his kingdom at the fort employing urban architectural planning and beautiful artworks. This is the story our driver tells as as we set out on our way.
He further adds that the view from the top is ‘magical’, which takes about two hours to climb because of the rush of tourists. Since we had already seen spectacular images of the rock on the Internet, we have no doubts in our mind. And sure enough, the Lion’s Rock – as more commonly known – is breathtaking. The ground level displays lush gardens and numerous caves, and soon after we start our climb, we come across the mirror wall with colourful frescoes.
Our Airbnb host who had accompanied us informs us that the wall used to have a polished surface, so much so that people in that era could catch their reflection. Thus, mirror wall. And the entire hill terrace was decorated with several frescoes depicting women, and it could have probably been the largest picture gallery in the world had they preserved it centuries ago. The wall is also scribbled with poems and messages from visitors before the preservation efforts came into effect.
Finally, sitting atop, we view the world like those mighty kings would have. The playful clouds, cool breeze, ancient ruins and greenery around make it a surreal experience. We also come across what remains a paw of a lion, which apparently was a marvellous sculpture of the animal back in the days.