Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Capital Fortress of a Parricide King

Sri Lankans move away from the cliff of Sigiriya, the old fortress capital of Parricide King Kashyapa.
buddhist tones
Thai Buddhist monks explore the Sigiriya summit.
among stones
Muslim woman waits for her family at the entrance to Boulder Arch.
towards the top
A small entourage of Buddhist monks advances along the water gardens of Sigiriya.
complicated traffic
A group of Sri Lankans descend the side slope of Sigiriya, which allows access to the top via the lions' staircase.
looking for the best view
Visitor explores a corner full of terraces from the top.
Mission Accomplished
Casal returns to the middle level of the fortress via the lions' staircase.
another perspective
Student interrupts his sketches and paintings of Sigiriya to change position.
again the monks
Buddhist monks enter the royal palace complex after a painful ascent to the top of Sigiriya.
Kashyapa I came to power after walling up his father's monarch. Afraid of a probable attack by his brother heir to the throne, he moved the main city of the kingdom to the top of a granite peak. Today, his eccentric haven is more accessible than ever and has allowed us to explore the Machiavellian plot of this Sri Lankan drama.

It happened that, in old Ceylon, different businesses installed on tricycles from the APE-50 style to be identified by addictive electronic melodies.

It had just been dawn. The sun struggled to elude the cloud cover that claimed the sky.

We walked down the rural alley that connected the Sigiriya Hostel to the surroundings of the great rock mountain when a sloppy version of the trifle for piano “To Elisa” desecrated Beethoven's dedication. Increasingly intense and piercing, the melody forced itself on us and on the inhabitants of those tropical surroundings.

Across the country, wheat has come to rival rice. Countless biker bakers are taking advantage of the trend and, like the one that surpassed us, they supply homes, tea houses and restaurants with fresh bread.

We stopped to chat with two other drivers.

Sigiriya capital fortress, Rickshaw Drivers

Rickshaw drivers wait for customers at a rickshaw station near Sigiriya.

Meanwhile, coming from the opposite direction, three huge elephants led by their handlers usurp the road, taller than the gaudy bus waiting there for Sri Lankan passengers.

The Inaugural Vision of the Capital Fortaleza Sigiriya

We go a little further and have the first sight of Sigiriya, from its southern slope, highlighted at the end of a long avenue lined with vegetation.

We return to the car and tell Ari to take us to the complex entrance. "Direct to Sigiriya, for sure?" the driver returns us with the typical “eeh” with which he used to beat his own sentences, frustrated with the time we had “wasted” that morning and which had delayed his breakfast.

Ten minutes later, we were crossing the sumptuous gardens of the old city, one of the oldest landscaped spaces in the face of the earth, divided into sections of water, rocks and terraces that we contemplated as we approached the foot of the granite colossus.

At the time of our arrival, there are still few visitors. We came across bands of ruffian monkeys, monitor lizards and even long hissing snakes, reptiles crossing the lawns at the leisure of the world.

Sigiriya capital fortress: newlyweds

Grooms in full photo shoot in front of Sigiriya fortress.

Onwards, we still pass by young couples from Ceilón, dressed with refinement and dedicated to improved photographic productions.

From the Foot to the Smooth Top of the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya

We enter the small jungle that surrounds the foothills, passing by Boulder Arch, a natural tunnel formed by two large stones. From there, we inaugurate the painful ascent to the top.

Sigiriya capital fortress: among boulders

Muslim woman waits for her family at the entrance to Boulder Arch.

By that time, we had stopped walking several times, some longer than others. Accordingly, when we make our way to the first steps, we are already in the company of Sri Lankan families, ecstatic at the discovery of the most notorious monument in the country.

Step after step, there we come face to face with the reddish cliff and, shortly afterwards, a guard above us surprises us who, with a tender and leisurely expression, asks us for our tickets.

We deviate from the real ascent by a spiral staircase closed by a railing.

The Women's Frescos Gallery, Displayed on the Red Wall of Sigiriya

At the end of the spiral, a small historical gallery awaits us – in other times it would have covered almost the entire western slope of the rock – of frescoes by women who, according to rival theories, could be concubines of Kashyapa I, apsaras (heavenly nymphs).

Sigiriya capital fortress: Estimated frescoes from concubines

One of several frescoes that are part of a gallery on the Sigiriya rock wall

Or even several illustrations of Tara Devi, the consort of Avalokitesvara, a divine being of Buddhism who chooses to remain in the earthly sphere to help humans reach enlightenment.

Believing in the accounts of Culvamsa, the record of the lives of Sri Lankan monarchs compiled over time by Buddhist monks, Kashyapa I needed distractions that would save him from the demons of his past.

His accession to the throne was so Machiavellian that even Caligula would have been impressed.

Patricide Kashyapa's Ascension to the Machiavellian Throne

Kashyapa was the son of King Dathusena and a consort considered unroyal. Dathusena's rightful heir was his half brother Mugalan. But in AD 477, Kashyapa decided to tamper with the dynastic order. He gained the support of Dathusena's nephew who, for convenience, was an army commander in conflict with the monarch.

Allies, engineered a coup d'etat.

Sigiriya capital fortress: Buddhist tones

Thai Buddhist monks explore the Sigiriya summit.

Also according to Culvamsa, this same commander led Kashyapa to believe that Dathusena would have enormous hidden treasures. Kashyapa demanded them from his father. Dathusena led him to a large irrigation pond he had built.

There, he told his son that this was the only treasure he had. Enraged, Kashyapa walled his father to death, eventually on one of the walls of that same tank.

Afraid of a similar end, Mugalan fled to southern India.

Sigiriya: a Fear-Based Capital Fortress

The new king, this one, feared his brother's vengeful return. Kashyapa – who came to be known to the people as the Patricide – moved the capital from traditional Anuradhapura to the top of the rock we continued to conquer.

The fresco gallery is installed in a concave area of ​​the cul-de-sac. It is controlled by another employee sitting at a small desk that imposes a ban on visitors to photograph the images.

We returned to the main road and covered what was missing from the long western slope. When we reach the apex with the north face, water falls from the top. This unexpected shower streamlines the challenge of overcoming a new stone staircase.

Sigiriya capital fortress: complicated traffic

A group of Sri Lankans descend the side slope of Sigiriya, which allows access to the top via the lions' staircase.

As if that wasn't enough, at a certain point we came across a sign that warns of the presence of wasps on the walls above and urges visitors not to create a stir. The warning is more than justified.

In a not so distant past and on several occasions, restless visitors aroused the wrath of those insects. The wasps responded with coordinated attacks and caused severe damage.

The northern slope acts as a sort of intermediate base for the final assault on the top. It grants the mercy of a rest hitherto inconvenient due to the narrowness of the rails and stairs.

The Ramp that Rises from the Paws of the Rock of the Lion Sigiriya

A rest that we enjoy facing the impressive lion's paws, which is left over from the huge statue-portal that gave rise to the current Sinhalese name of the massif, Sigiriya, the Rock of the Lion.

Before the destruction of the upper part of the statue, access to the top was made through the mouth of a brick lion. Since the fifth century, the lion has been disintegrating. There remain the first steps of the passage and its paws.

Sigiriya capital fortress, Mission accomplished

Casal returns to the middle level of the fortress via the lions' staircase.

It is through them that we resume the slow ascent.

We follow at the tail of a line of Sri Lankans, some elderly people who, even breathless, live together and enjoy the fabulous view of the green plain.

After the last steps, already 200 meters above the ground, the 1.6-hectare structure of what would have been the fortress city of Kashyapa is revealed to us.

Sigiriya capital fortress: another perspective

Student interrupts his sketches and paintings of Sigiriya to change position.

Sigiriya is one of the best examples of urban planning of the first millennium, endowed with its own water reservoirs that fed complex hydraulic systems, as well as five inlets, including the lion's that was thought to have been used only by royalty.

The Ruins of the Capital Fortress of the Anuradhapura Kingdom

Little remains of the buildings that made it up and, like the rest of the visitors, we soon find ourselves privileging the edge of the top.

Sigiriya capital fortress: garden

A small entourage of Buddhist monks advances along the water gardens of Sigiriya.

And from there, the incredible scenery around, highlighting the vast gardens at the base that we had crossed in the early morning.

The granite ridge had already turned into a brazier under the tropical sun when a group of Thai Buddhist monks dressed in the usual orange robes appeared there, accompanied by other believers who photographed them and helped to brave the successive ups and downs.

Sigiriya capital fortress: again the monks

Buddhist monks enter the royal palace complex after a painful ascent to the top of Sigiriya.

More than just tourist, their presence and the effort they made in the excruciating heat were part of one of the many pilgrimages to sacred places in Buddhism.

Sigiriya and its cliffs and caves have been used as shelters or religious retreats from three centuries before Christ until the occupation of Kashyapa.

Back in the Culvamsa narrative, the Patricidal King's fears were confirmed. In 495 AD, Mugalan returned with an army recruited from India.

The battle between both forces endowed with hundreds of elephants veered on the suitor's side.

Sigiriya capital fortress: Looking for the best view

Visitor explores a corner full of terraces from the top.

The Dreaded and Tragic End of Founder Kashyapa

While riding his pachyderm, Kashyapa reportedly made a strategic move that was (mis)interpreted by his subjects as a retreat. In trouble, his own army drove Kashyapa to despair.

Too proud to surrender, the deposed usurper slit his throat with a dagger.

Mugalan reclaimed the kingdom that had always belonged to him. Shortly thereafter, he returned the capital to Anuradhapura, along with Pollonnaruwa, one of the nation's sumptuous historic capitals.

As for Sigiriya, Mugalan will have turned it into one of the most mystical Buddhist shrines in all of Asia. But, in the XNUMXth century, it was abandoned and gradually swallowed up by the vegetation that, in these latitudes, grows at a great rate.

Sigiriya capital fortress: surrounding jungle

The jungle between mountains that surrounds the Sigiriya rock.

Only in 1898, the archaeologist HCP Bell rediscovered it.

In 1907, John Still, another English explorer, tea planter and archaeologist continued the excavations and encouraged the recovery of the site under the colonial auspices of his crown, which since the beginning of the XNUMXth century, well after the period of Portuguese supremacy, controlled a large area. part of Ceylon.

Out of reverence for Sigiriya's solemnity, no business is permitted within the complex's boundary. At three in the afternoon, we found ourselves on the run, with the water about to run out at a still temperature and no longer any snack to restore our energy.

The time had come for us to return, which cost us far less than we expected.

We were presented with the same impressive perspective of the western slope detached from the vegetation but, this time, surrounded by a blue sky much more resplendent and contagious than the morning one.

Sigiriya capital fortress: homecoming

Sri Lankans move away from the cliff of Sigiriya, the old fortress capital of Parricide King Kashyapa.

Kashyapa had had his Sigiriya age. Countless Buddhist monks shared this privilege.

Our time of discovering the most fascinating rock in Ceylon was also over.

Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort: A Portuguese and then Dutch (His) story

Camões immortalized Ceylon as an indelible landmark of the Discoveries, where Galle was one of the first fortresses that the Portuguese controlled and yielded. Five centuries passed and Ceylon gave way to Sri Lanka. Galle resists and continues to seduce explorers from the four corners of the Earth.
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

In the 80s, Soviet leaders renewed Khiva in a softened version that, in 1990, UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. The USSR disintegrated the following year. Khiva has preserved its new luster.
Castles and Fortresses

The World to Defense - Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Massada, Israel

Massada: The Ultimate Jewish Fortress

In AD 73, after months of siege, a Roman legion found that the resisters at the top of Masada had committed suicide. Once again Jewish, this fortress is now the supreme symbol of Zionist determination
Yala NPElla-Kandy, Sri Lanka

Journey Through Sri Lanka's Tea Core

We leave the seafront of PN Yala towards Ella. On the way to Nanu Oya, we wind on rails through the jungle, among plantations in the famous Ceylon. Three hours later, again by car, we enter Kandy, the Buddhist capital that the Portuguese never managed to dominate.
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Yaks
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
hacienda mucuyche, Yucatan, Mexico, canal
Architecture & Design
Yucatan, Mexico

Among Haciendas and Cenotes, through the History of Yucatan

Around the capital Merida, for every old hacienda henequenera there's at least one cenote. As happened with the semi-recovered Hacienda Mucuyché, together, they form some of the most sublime places in southeastern Mexico.


Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
Native Americans Parade, Pow Pow, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Ceremonies and Festivities
Albuquerque, USA

When the Drums Sound, the Indians Resist

With more than 500 tribes present, the pow wow "Gathering of the Nations" celebrates the sacred remnants of Native American cultures. But it also reveals the damage inflicted by colonizing civilization.
Accra, Ghana, Flagstaff House
Accra, Ghana

The Capital in the Cradle of the Gold Coast

Do From the landing of Portuguese navigators to the independence in 1957 several the powers dominated the Gulf of Guinea region. After the XNUMXth century, Accra, the present capital of Ghana, settled around three colonial forts built by Great Britain, Holland and Denmark. In that time, it grew from a mere suburb to one of the most vibrant megalopolises in Africa.

A Market Economy

The law of supply and demand dictates their proliferation. Generic or specific, covered or open air, these spaces dedicated to buying, selling and exchanging are expressions of life and financial health.
Vairocana Buddha, Todai ji Temple, Nara, Japan
Nara, Japan

The Colossal Cradle of the Japanese Buddhism

Nara has long since ceased to be the capital and its Todai-ji temple has been demoted. But the Great Hall remains the largest ancient wooden building in the world. And it houses the greatest bronze Vairocana Buddha.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
extraterrestrial mural, Wycliffe Wells, Australia
Wycliffe Wells, Australia

Wycliffe Wells' Unsecret Files

Locals, UFO experts and visitors have been witnessing sightings around Wycliffe Wells for decades. Here, Roswell has never been an example and every new phenomenon is communicated to the world.
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

São Nicolau, Cape Verde

Photography of Nha Terra São Nicolau

The voice of the late Cesária Verde crystallized the feeling of Cape Verdeans who were forced to leave their island. who visits São Nicolau or, wherever it may be, admires images that illustrate it well, understands why its people proudly and forever call it their land.
Dominica, Soufriére and Scotts Head, island background
Soufriere e Scotts Head, Dominica

The Life That Hangs from Nature's Caribbean Island

It has the reputation of being the wildest island in the Caribbean and, having reached its bottom, we continue to confirm it. From Soufriére to the inhabited southern edge of Scotts Head, Dominica remains extreme and difficult to tame.
ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
José Saramago in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Glorieta de Saramago
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
Tinquilco Lake in PN Huerquehue, Pucón, La Araucania, Chile
Pucón, Chile

Among the Araucarias of La Araucania

At a certain latitude in longline Chile, we enter La Araucanía. This is a rugged Chile, full of volcanoes, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and the coniferous forests from which the region's name grew. And it is the heart of the pine nuts of the largest indigenous ethnic group in the country: the Mapuche.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Etosha National Park Namibia, rain
Natural Parks
PN Etosha, Namíbia

The Lush Life of White Namibia

A vast salt flat rips through the north of Namibia. The Etosha National Park that surrounds it proves to be an arid but providential habitat for countless African wild species.
Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, Christian churches, priest with insensate
UNESCO World Heritage
Holy Sepulcher Basilica, Jerusalem, Israel

The Supreme Temple of the Old Christian Churches

It was built by Emperor Constantine, on the site of Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection and an ancient temple of Venus. In its genesis, a Byzantine work, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher is, today, shared and disputed by various Christian denominations as the great unifying building of Christianity.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
view mount Teurafaatiu, Maupiti, Society Islands, French Polynesia
Maupiti, French Polynesia

A Society on the Margin

In the shadow of neighboring Bora Bora's near-global fame, Maupiti is remote, sparsely inhabited and even less developed. Its inhabitants feel abandoned but those who visit it are grateful for the abandonment.
holy bookcase
Tsfat (Safed), Israel

When the Kabbalah is a Victim of Itself

In the 50s, Tsfat brought together the artistic life of the young Israeli nation and regained its secular mystique. But famous converts like Madonna have come to disturb the most elemental Kabbalist discretion.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Weddings in Jaffa, Israel,
Jaffa, Israel

Where Tel Aviv Settles Always in Party

Tel Aviv is famous for the most intense night in the Middle East. But, if its youngsters are having fun until exhaustion in the clubs along the Mediterranean, it is more and more in the nearby Old Jaffa that they tie the knot.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Esteros del Iberá, Pantanal Argentina, Alligator
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina

The Pantanal of the Pampas

On the world map, south of the famous brazilian wetland, a little-known flooded region appears, but almost as vast and rich in biodiversity. the Guarani expression Y bera defines it as “shining waters”. The adjective fits more than its strong luminance.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.