Sin: සීගිරිය sīgiriya – Tam: சிகிரியா sikiriyā

‘Lion Rock’  CP,  Sri Lanka

From Sin: sinha, ‘lion’; and  giriya, ‘rock, mountain’.

King Kashyapa (477–495 CE) built a palace fortress on the top of this 180m column of rock. He had usurped the throne by murdering his father (he walled him alive) and out-manoeuvring his half-brother, Moggallana, the rightful king. Holing up here to escape the inevitable retribution only worked for twenty years by which time Moggallana had raised an army in India and returned to claim the throne.

Kashyapa had colourful frescoes painted onto the 140m rock walls, transforming it into ‘a gigantic picture gallery’ [John Still].

There is a huge lion-shaped gateway carved onto a small plateau halfway up the rock, hence the name Sigiriya.

For related place names see Sri Lanka Place names.