The ancient city of SIGIRIYA is a premier eco-tourism destination in Sri Lanka which was designated a cultural World Heritage Site in 1982. It is also proposed that the site should be named the eighth wonder of the world, indicating it is in the same league as other international wonders such as the Grand Canyon and Ancient Pyramids.
Translated as ‘Lion Rock' into English, the name of the monument indicates the way in which visitors used to begin their final ascent to the top – through the open jaws and throat (‘giriya') of a lion (‘sinha'). Unfortunately, the only remains of this lion figure are the gigantic paws, sculpted into the side of the rock. The unusual rock is particularly interesting due to its flat top (nearly an acre in size), that was used in its entirety to build King Kasyapa's fortress complex, still evident by the presence of the extensive ruins.
Dambulla is situated on a gigantic rock which towers more than 160m above the surrounding land. The Rock is more the 1.5km around its base and summit is at 550km. The caves were the refuge of King Walagamba (VattagaminiAbhaya) when he was exile for 14 years. Dambulla was designated a World Heritage site in 1991. The cave has a mixture of religious and secular painting and sculpture. There are several reclining Buddha's, including the 15m long sculpture of the dying Buddha in Cave 1, the frescoes on the walls and ceiling from the 15th-18th centuries; the ceiling frescoes show scenes from the Buddha's life and Sinhalese history. Cave 2, is the largest and most impressive, containing over 150 statues, illustrating the Mahayana influences on Buddhism at the time through introducing Hindu deities such as Vishnu and Ganesh.