Day 6 of Sri Lanka Trip, Sigiriya on July 16, 2017

Sixth day of our Sri Lanka trip.
Today we visited Sigiriya in the morning, and Dambulla Cave Temple in the afternoon, before reaching our overnight apartment in Kandy in the evening.


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As I said in the previous post, we spent the night in a hotel just next to Sigiriya. So this morning while we were having breakfast, we had this magnificent sight of the hill of Sigiriya rising above the horizon in front of us. A great way to start a day.

After that, it’s a short drive to the Sigiriya visitor entrance, where, for once, we followed our driver’s advice and did hire a tour guide for us (we didn’t do that in Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa).

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located near the town of Dambulla. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres (660 ft) high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa (477–495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the king’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
King Kashyapa acquired the throne by overthrowing his father, King Dhatusena, and usurping his brother and rightful heir to the throne, Moggallana, in a palace coup. He imprisoned and later executed his father. Kashyapa was also known as Pithru Ghathaka Kashyapa (Kashyapa the Patricide), after this incident. He was later defeated by Moggallana, who had fled to South India and returned with an army to regain the throne. Kashyapa was killed in the battle that ensued.

Lotus Pond


Lotus Pond


Sprinkler Truck

Sprinkler Truck
Sprinkler Truck
Just a water tank pulled by a tractor, pretty primitive.


Moat


Moat


Suspension Bridge over Moat


Suspension Bridge over Moat


This is the outer smaller inner moat of Sigiriya, the outer moat was cut off by the ticket office. According to our tour guide, the King used to raise crocodiles in the moat so as to ward off intruders.
Bathing Pool

Bathing Pool
Bathing Pool


Seat for King


Seat for King
Where the king would sit to watch ladies taking bath.


Pond and Irrigation System


Pond and Irrigation System


Fountains


Fountains
There’s underground water channel underneath it, so water would spill out from the holes.


The King built a complex irrigation system in the lower gardens, so that water from nearby water tanks would pass through fountains and channels into layered baths without waste. According to our guide, during heavy rainy seasons, one could from time to time see waters spilling out from these holes even till this day.
Sigiriya


Sigiriya


Summer Palace behind Trees


Summer Palace behind Trees


The rock of Sigiriya was the King’s winter palace during heavy rainy season, where the king and his men could survive on rainwater collected on the rock alone. During the dry season of summer, the king moved downhill to his summer palace on the ground.
Irrigation System


Irrigation System


Sigiriya


Sigiriya


Fresco


Fresco
Not so well-preserved.


The most well-preserved frescoes were halfway up the rock, here on the ground the frescoes weren’t so well preserved.
Boulder Arch

Boulder Arch
Boulder Arch
There were two boulder arches like these in the palace, which made guarding the palace an easy job.


Boulder Garden


Boulder Garden


Fields Surrounding Sigiriya


Fields Surrounding Sigiriya


From here on it’s these steep (but climbable) stairs up the rock.
Stairs up Sigiriya


Stairs up Sigiriya
A dog’s resting peacefully.


Fields Surrounding Sigiriya


Fields Surrounding Sigiriya
With summer palace below us.


Then there’s these spiral stairs up to a rock platform where the best-preserved frescoes of Sigiriya were located. No photos were allowed, and the platform was narrow and crowded with people. I was just curious that it didn’t seem that Buddhism for the King to watch half-naked women day and night. But think of the fact that he overthrew his father and outcast his brother to claim the throne, maybe he’s not such a good king after all.

Then there’s this mirror wall. In the old days the side rock of this passage was all painted in magnificent frescoes. So the King erected this wall to act as a mirror, so he painted frescoes on one side and enjoyed them on both sides.

Graffiti on Mirror Wall


Graffiti on Mirror Wall
There’s a line of ancient graffiti in the lower center in Sinhalese, our tour guide told us that ancient graffiti here were mostly to praise the fine work of fresco on the walls, while modern ones were just scribble (also noticeably much larger in size).


Mirror Wall


Mirror Wall


Rooms by Citadel


Rooms by Citadel
Official Map shows these were prison blocks.

Then after some more stairs we were at this Lion’s Paw terrace.
Our tour guide showed us a picture of what Lion’s Paw used to look like in the old days, that facade really resembled a lion and people would enter through a lion’s mouth to climb up to the palace. Now, the stairs remained but the lion’s face were gone, the only thing left of that lion facade were its paws.

Lion's Paw


Lion’s Paw

With the lions gone and tourists thronging, the monkeys here were having a good time enjoying their worry-free life.

Monkey

MonkeyMonkeysMonkeys
Monkeys


People at Lion's Paw Terrace


People at Lion’s Paw Terrace


Nearby Hill


Nearby Hill

After some more stairs we were finally at the top of the rock of Sigiriya, which used to the King’s palace. The winds were strong up there, so we didn’t stay long.

Sigiriya and Surrounding Fields


Sigiriya and Surrounding Fields


Lower Sigiriya


Lower Sigiriya


Main Water Tank on Hill

Main Water Tank on Hill
Main Water Tank on Hill


Sigiriya and Surrounding Fields


Sigiriya and Surrounding Fields


Lotus Pond


Lotus Pond


Distant Mountain


Distant Mountain


Seat of King in front of Dance Hall


Seat of King in front of Dance Hall
Wherever the King was, he was to watch girls.


Stairs up Lion Paw


Stairs up Lion Paw


Lion's Paw


Lion’s Paw


Holes on Sigiriya Rock


Holes on Sigiriya Rock
All used to be mini temples.


Circular Stairs up Fresco Cave


Circular Stairs up Fresco Cave


Throne of Summer Palace


Throne of Summer Palace


Reception Hall with Throne


Reception Hall with Throne


Cobra Rock

Cobra Rock
Cobra Rock


After that, we thanked our tour guide, and left Sigiriya.
Sigiriya


Sigiriya


Monkey


Monkey
Oh, she’s so well treated that the bread has got butter on it.

After that, our driver recommended a massage shop near Sigiriya with “traditional skills”. To put it in brief terms, the whole point of that massage was mainly the different oils applied. (It’s like, the point of McDonald’s McNuggests were their sauces.)

Massage Shop Entrance


Massage Shop Entrance
Ok, they got a lion’s paw too.


Lunch


Lunch


Dambulla Economic Development Center


Dambulla Economic Development Center
A fancier name for “food market”, which our driver was very proud to introduce to us.

Since it was still early in the day and we would be arriving way too early in Kandy if we headed directly there (we had two nights for Kandy), we decided to visit Dambulla Cave Temple.

Buddha Statue of Dambulla Temple


Buddha Statue of Dambulla Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla cave temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include Vishnu and the Ganesha. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square metres (23,000 sq ft). Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha’s first sermon.
The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and remains the best-preserved ancient edifice in Sri Lanka. This complex dates from the third and second centuries BC. Valagamba of Anuradhapura is traditionally thought to have converted the caves into a temple in the first century BC. Exiled from Anuradhapura, he sought refuge here from South Indian usurpers for 15 years. After reclaiming his capital, the King built a temple in thankful worship. Many other kings added to it later and by the 11th century, the caves had become a major religious centre and still are. Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa gilded the caves and added about 70 Buddha statues in 1190. During the 18th century, the caves were restored and painted by the Kingdom of Kandy.

Hill by Dambulla Cave Temple


Hill by Dambulla Cave Temple


Fields by Dambulla Cave Temple


Fields by Dambulla Cave Temple


Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha
Reclining Buddha


Buddha Statue

Buddha Statue
Buddha Statue


Buddha Fresco


Buddha Fresco


Stupa


Stupa


Buddha Statue

Buddha Statue
Buddha Statue


Buddha Fresco


Buddha Fresco


Buddha Statue

Buddha Statue
Buddha Statue


King Statue


King Statue


Buddha Statue

Buddha Statue
Buddha Statue


Stupa


Stupa


Reclining Buddha


Reclining Buddha


Buddha Statue

Buddha Statue
Buddha StatueBuddha Statue
Buddha Statue


Dambulla Cave Temple Interior

Dambulla Cave Temple Interior
Dambulla Cave Temple Interior


Dambulla Cave Temple Exterior


Dambulla Cave Temple Exterior


Decorations on First Dambulla Cave Temple Entrance


Decorations on First Dambulla Cave Temple Entrance


Inscription by King Nissankamalla


Inscription by King Nissankamalla
It records the services rendered by the King to Buddhism and his people. It mentions the unification of the monks of the three fraternities and his own pilgrimages and the conservation works carried out by him at the sacred sites including the Dambulla temple.


Fields and Mountains near Dambulla Cave Temple


Fields and Mountains near Dambulla Cave Temple

After that it’s nearly 4pm, so we were on our way to Kandy. We reached Kandy a little past 6pm.

Sri Muthumariamman Kovil Temple

Sri Muthumariamman Kovil Temple
Sri Muthumariamman Kovil Temple
A Hindu Temple that our driver was eager to introduce to us.


Matale

Matale
MataleMatale
Matale
Driving on these roads reminds me of the good old computer game of Road Rash.


Mahaweli River


Mahaweli River


Street in Outer Kandy


Street in Outer Kandy
There was some roadwork going on in outer Kandy that day.


Main Street of Kandy

Main Street of Kandy
Main Street of Kandy
One thing that surprised me, it’s only 6pm and the shops along this main street of such a major city were mostly closed.


After that, we settled down in our spacious apartment, and took our driver out for dinner.
Dinner


Dinner
Chicken noodles, which was nice. I even began to try out spices.


Dinner Restaurant

Dinner Restaurant
Dinner Restaurant
A chic restaurant by the Temple of the Tooth with decorations of photos dating back to colony period.


The convenience of Kandy as a city was that, for the first time in our journey in Sri Lanka we actually saw a proper supermarket. Although this country was so underdeveloped that prices were, in our opinion, staggering.
Queen's Hotel


Queen’s Hotel


Bogambara Lake at Night


Bogambara Lake at Night
Our apartment may be one the lights in the photo.


END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 6 of Sri Lanka Trip, Sigiriya on July 16, 2017 by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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