Sigiriya is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 180 meters high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa the site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. The Sigiriya site consistes of a 180m tall granite rock, whose sides are so steep that at some points the top overhangs the base. At the top of the site there is a palace complex. The ruines of various chambers, stairways and pools can be seen at the top. There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a pair giant pair of lions paws which is infact the ruind of a huge head of a lion whose open mouth served as the entrance to the royal palace. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. Surrounding the palace complex are the ruins of a garden complex consisting of two moats, various pools.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress of Sri Lanka is situated in Matale district near to Dambulla. It can be reached along Colombo- Habarana highway and turning towards East from Inamaluwa. Then proceeding about 10 km from Inamaluwa and passing Kimbissa township one arrives at Sigiriya.
Before Sigiriya became a Kingdom, the Sigiriya Rock base and the places such as Pidurangala which were endowed with many Caves and a temple had been dwelled by Buddhist monks from around 3rd Century BC. It is also found that these areas had been inhabitant by people prior to King Kassapa’s rein. Many Caves also have Brahmi Inscriptions dating back from 3rd Century BC to 1st century AD.
After King Mahanama who ruled Anuradhapura from 410- 432 AD, a Prince named Dhatusena became the King of Anuradhapura in 459 AD, defeating the Indian invader ‘Pandu’. The King Dhatusena was the ruler who constructed Kala Wewa or the Kala Wewa Tank, by building a dam across Kala Oya , which is a small river type. The man made 54 mile long Yoda Ela, which takes water from Kala Wewa to Tissa wewa is considered as an Irrigation engineering wonder even at the present day. It has a gradient of just 6 inches per mile along the first 17 miles , which means the level different is just over 8 feet even after the 17 th mile along the canal. During his rein the famous full relief Aukana Buddha statue also was constructed out of a rock which stands 42 feet high.
He had two sons from two queens. Mugalan [ also called as Moggallana ] from the head queen and Kassapa’s [ also called as Kashyapa ] from a companion queen. Prince Kashyapa, with the help of the general of the army of King Dhatusena, named Migara, got his father killed and became the King. Prince Mugalan, fearing for his life, escaped to India. The Buddhist Bhikkus and the people were against his conduct and favoured Price Mugalan for the rulership. Fearing that Mugalan will come with an army from India to avenge him at a later day, King Kassapa decided to make Sigiriya as his kingdom. During his rule of eighteen years from 477 AD to 495 AD Sigiriya Kingdom was created. It is believed that he sought the refuge of Sigiriya rock for his safety fearing for his life.
After 18 years, Prince Mugalan came with an army from India to fight with King Kassapa. During the battle Kassapa killed himself thus Mugalan became the King. He went back to Anuradhapura and ruled the country from there and handed over Sigiriya back to the Buddhist priests. Sigiriya as a Kingdom was abandoned in around 1150 AD and was almost forgotten for the next seven centuries Though King Kashyapa is not regarded in high esteem in Sri Lankan history due to his dubious conduct, he is credited as a ruler with unsurpassed imagination put into reality to create a Sri Lankan style marvel of high calibre art and engineering skills that could even challange the outer world structures at that time, which definitely is amazing even in the 21st century with whatever is remaining as ruins of Sigiriya.