Sigiriya is an interesting destination in Sri Lanka where you can witness the engineering marvels and artistry of its past residents
12/2/2015 3:25:43 PM
|written By : Basabi Banerjee|
In December 2013 I had my first opportunity to visit Sri Lanka, the mysterious land to which Ravana had forcibly transported Sita in his air-borne chariot. It brought to mind a childhood memory of a dance enactment of the Ramayana in which the valiant Jatayu engages in a futile battle with the king of Lanka, then, fatally wounded, struggles to live until he tells Rama where his wife has been taken. Many more such mesmerising tales would no doubt unfold at Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy which our enthusiastic driver-cum-guide Tillanka promised we would visit in addition to an elephant orphanage, a national park and lush tea gardens over an eventful and somewhat exhausting week.
Situated in central Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is one of the national treasures of the country’s Cultural Triangle which also includes the magnificent cave temple of Dambulla and three ancient capitals: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy.
The elemental drama of the towering rock at Sigiriya upon which a fifth century monarch once built a magnificent palace amidst the clouds, is at once impressive and intimidating, Around the time that Buddhism was taking root in China, King Kasyapa was creating a magnificent citadel miles from Anuradhapura, which remains one of the finest examples of ancient urban planning that the world has known. While the soaring monadnock was surrounded by moats and ramparts, it was also replete with beautifully laid out gardens, pools, fountains and pavilions to ensure that the royal household and the king’s concubines enjoyed a paradisaical environment.
Researchers tell us that the complex was built to emulate ‘Alakamanda’, the city of the gods, and to this end every wall was given a mirror-like sheen to create a magical effect. The engineers who planned the citadel 1,500 years ago, devised a sophisticated system of water management, making use of every opportunity to store precious rainwater in large reservoirs and streams to be pumped to the pools and baths designed for the pleasure of the king and his harem. They created a magnificent tropical resort hundreds of years ago which would have undoubtedly rivalled the best retreats in Bali or Phuket!