Win­dow Seat

Man-made beauty meets Mother Na­ture in Sri Lanka

Qantas - - Contents -

Re­sem­bling the rough, pro­trud­ing foot of a gi­ant, com­plete with forested heel and tree-capped toes, Si­giriya (also known as Lion Rock) looms above tan­gled jun­gle in Sri Lanka, about 165 kilo­me­tres north-east of Colombo. This World Her­itage-listed site is re­mark­able not only for its 200-me­tre gran­ite cliffs but also the in­dus­tri­ous ar­chi­tects and labour­ers who con­structed a for­ti­fied royal palace, com­plete with ex­ten­sive ir­ri­gated gar­dens, atop its lofty sum­mit in the fifth cen­tury. Formed from the magma of an ex­tinct vol­cano, Si­giriya served as an an­cient monastery for cen­turies be­fore King Kashyapa fixed his eye on it (and it re­sumed that func­tion af­ter his death in 495 CE). To­day, the climb to the top of Lion Rock is a daunt­ing one. But if you do tackle the seem­ingly end­less stairs, two enor­mous clawed paws – all that re­mains of the im­pos­ing statue that once marked the en­trance to the fi­nal as­cent – will greet you half­way up on the north­ern side.

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