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November 22, 2003

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We guess the ancients didn't like traveling far because their old cities lie within 3 hour bus rides of each other. We hopped to our last ruin, which offers the best view, a scandalous story, and naked pictures! The ruin is called Sigiriya and it started with a story of betrayal. A bastard son killed his father, the king, by burying him alive in a palace wall. The bastard's half brother, the true heir to the throne, fled to India and swore revenge. The bastard built this rock fortress, Sigiriya, but it didn't save him. The prince returned and killed his father's murderer. The fortress lay abandoned until archaeologists rediscovered it. But at one time this rock served as the palace and fortress of the bastard king!
Gardens and a forest inhabited by wild elephants surround the 600 foot high fortress.
The Sigiriya paintings, circa 5th century AD, emboss the sheer cliff face of the fort. Their location, hundreds of feet above the ground, astonishes the viewer almost as much as their detail. Better yet, along the pathway that clings to the rock face and leads to the paintings, ancient graffiti exists. Written between the 7th to 11th centuries, one deciphered graffiti reads: "The ladies who wear golden chains on their breasts beckon me. As I have seen the resplendent ladies, heaven appears to me as not good." Another, by a female writer, "A deer-eyed young woman of the mountain side arouses anger in my mind. In her hand she had taken a string of pearls and in her looks she has assumed rivalry with us."
At the final ascent to the top we find the Lion of Sigiriya. Once an immense brick lion guarded the stairway. Its paws remain to show how tall it must have stood.
Snake charming near the cobra hood cave.