History of Sigiriya

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Sigiriya dates back from over 7,000 years ago, through Pre-Historic to Proto-Historic to Early Historic times, then as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 3rd century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the sangha.

The garden city and the palace was built by Kasyapa 477 - 495 AD. Then after Kasyapa's death it was a monastery complex upto about the 14th century.

The Mahavamsa, the ancient historical record of Sri Lanka, describes King Kasyapa as a parricide, who murdered his father King Dhatusena by walling him up alive and then usurping the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana. To escape from the armies of Mogallana, Kasyapa is said to have built his palace on the summit of Sigiriya, but Mogallana finally managed to get to Kasyapa and he committed suicide.

However, there is also another version of the Kasyapa story, related by one of the most eminent historians of Sri Lanka, Prof. Senerat Paranavitana. He claims to have deciphered the story of Sigiriya, written by a monk named Ananda in the 15th cent. AD. this work had been inscribed on stone slabs, over which later inscriptions had been written. Till to date no other epigraphist has made a serious attempt to read the interlinear inscriptions.

The two conflicting versions have been the basis for the historical novel Kat Bitha by Daya Dissanayake, published in 1998. The book won the State Literay Award for best English novel in 1999

Sigiriya is also the location for Arthur C Clarke's 'Fountains of Paradise'.

Ancient Souvenirs

Recent excavations had revealed miniature terracotta figurines at Sigiriya, from the post Kasyapan period. They are works of art which are miniature reproductions of the paintings on the Sigirya rock wall. They would have been sold as souvenirs for the visitors to Sigiriya Some of them are found at the Sigiriya Museum today.

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