Sigiriya literally means ‘Lion Rock’ after the shape of entrance to the rock fortress which was in the form of a recumbent lion whose remnants could still be seen in the gigantic paws at the entrance to the palace. A palace indeed, for it served for a short period of about a decade and a half as the political hub of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya  is  probably  the  best  preserved  and  glorious  of  the  surviving, planned  cities  of  South  and  Southeast  Asia  of  the  first  millennium of the Christian era. For a number of reasons including its fascinating surroundings, its plan and conception and its degree of preservation, Sigiriya occupies a foremost position in the history of urbanism in Asia. Sigiriya’s urban form consists of a series of central environs, the outer moat of which not yet completely explored – seems to form a correctly geometrical rectangle.  These successive environs are centered on the grand Sigiriya rock. The city plan has been identified as a rectangular form almost 3km from east to west and 1km from north to south.

Many  who  visit  Sigiriya  believe  that  this  urban  centre  reveals  only Kashyapan  period  (C.5th  century  AD)  architectural  characteristics, but  the  archaeological  evidence  prove  that  Sigiriya  has  pre-and  post- Kashyapan phases.  Indeed it has as many as ten phases.


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