The Lion Rock, Sigiri (Ceylon). 9 February 1868
Artist: Leighton, Stanley (1837-1901)
Watercolour of the Lion Rock at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, by Stanley Leighton (1837-1901), dated 9th February 1868. The image is inscribed on the front in pencil: 'Sigiri Rock. Ancient Cingoolese fortress. Sunday. 9. Feb. 1868. 1300 ft above sea level. 600ft above plain.'
King Dhatusena, a Sinhalese king, was overthrown by his illegitimate son Kasyapa in 473, who built this fortress on the summit of a large piece of granite which rises straight from the plain. Its original purpose was as protection from his brother Moggallana, who vowed to regain control of the empire. In 491, the rightful heir did invade and King Kasyapa was defeated before even reaching the battle. The entrance to the fortress was via a stone stairway that led into the mouth and throat of the gigantic figure of a lion cut directly into the rock. Today all that remains of the fortress are two huge paws situated on either side of the stairway and ruined buildings at the summit.