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Notes on the Geography of Sri Lanka: Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a famous and nearly impregnable natural fortress, at whose base the parricide Kasyapa built a palace where he lived from 477 to 511 in fear of his brother's revenge. It came, and the fortress proved of little use: in the heat of battle, a wheeling movement by Kasyapa was interpreted by his own troops as retreat. They fled, leaving him to kill himself. The palace and refuge were abandoned.

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Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 1

Two hours north of Kandy: the main Sigiriya approach road on Christmas Day, 2000.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 2

A palace moat, around the palace at the foot of the granite tower.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 3

And the tower itself, the Lion Rock, approached by thousands of Sinhalese on holiday. Rain was threatening...

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 4

A more complete view.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 5

The line grew solid up the approach steps and then along the catwalk that climbs the tower.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 6

The wall is an ancient one, supplemented by the modern catwalk and the spiral staircase, which deadends against a wall of frescoes.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 7

The rain grew serious.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 8

It became a deluge, compounded by cascades from the summit.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 9

The crowd took it all in good-naturededly, except for some vertiginous and claustrophobic German tourists.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 10

Midway, famous lion paws.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 11

...and still more steps.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 12

Up top, not much is left after 1,500 years.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 13

A pond is replenished by the rain.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 14

From another angle.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 15

A view down to the palace--and the same approach walk seen earlier from below.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 16

Coming down, the upward flow continues.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 17

The paws from above.

Sri Lanka: Sigiriya picture 18

Rain on a palace pond, down once again on the surrounding plain.


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