In my second week I renovated another temple in Sigiriya. I spent my afternoons visiting various sites in the region and going on elephant safaris! The most impressive landmark I visited in Sri Lanka was Sigiriya rock. Sigiriya rock (a UNESCO protected world heritage site) was indeed one of the most impressive sites I have ever visited in all my life, not just in Sri Lanka.
A thousand year old monastery perched high on a rock that emerges from the earth unexpectedly (in stark contrast with its surroundings), for me, brings back memories of the Meteora monasteries in Greece similarly perched on the summit of each miraculous rock. Yet this site had another extraordinarily special element: its architecture. The landscaped royal gardens beneath, the stairs leading to the summit of the rock and the landscaping at the top of the rock left one spell bound. This is because the architecture sumptuously marries two concepts: that of the existing landscape whereby elements of stone are carved into architectural features and even furniture (the throne), together with man-made ‘interventions’ of brick and stone, beautifully assembled in conjunction with the natural landscape – which is sometimes carved, sometimes left untouched. It was interesting to see how the design also merged with natural tree life, how roots of trees also became part of the architecture. So the ‘carved city’ element also reminded me of Petra, Jordan. This site really was an amalgamation of some of the great concepts seen in other ancient sites – yet unique. Particularly the lion paws themselves – what a spectacular presence and breathtaking carving, again, emerging from the landscape itself and ascending into the rock above.
Sigiriya rock from a distance
View from the rock summit
Throne carved out of the mountain!