Saturday, 22 March 2014

Sigiriya: Those Damsels in Distress

One of the most iconic of all images to come from Sri Lanka is curiously still a mystery.
No one really knows who these figures were or why they were painted on the Lion Rock.
This is where we left the race to the top and rested between the giant lion's paws before heading back down the extremely steep stairs to the base of the rock.
We were unlucky enough to fall behind a huge group of schoolkids (clearly not quick enough). Here they are queuing to go through the checkpoint before climbing the spiral stairs to view the Sigiriyian Damsels
No grog allowed.
In 1967 some idiot destroyed several of the paintings - since then security has been beefed up.
But only by a bit. The guard at the top looks to be 65 and slight enough to be blown off the rock in a high wind...
This image is probably the most reproduced of all the damsels images. In fact it's become a symbol of Sri Lanka even though no one is really sure as to their origin or their purpose. Signs adorn the cave walls asking No Flash but of course, most snappers have no idea how to turn the flash off. It's surprising that these icons of ancient art still remain as bright and as impressive as they do...
Lion Rock, HDR, as viewed from behind the main entrance.
You have to climb 30 or 40 feet on this rickety spiral staircase.
One goes up, one goes down.
There were more than 500 damsel images spread around the rock but now most have been damaged by the weather, time or vandals. Only about 21 remain.
Not all of them are intact.

All shots of the damsels were made using an EF 24mm lens, ISO 800, no flash of course.
Once down from the damsels, you walk along the mirror wall, a simple wall between rock face and edge of the path. Its surface is highly polished white plaster - so the original king could see a reflection of himself while walking past.
The way back. In places it's best not to look down as you negotiate the narrow ledges and walkways.
The lower walkway is NOT for visitors but for workmen. There's no safety net over a drop of more than 50 metres.
Another great view of the edge of the lower rock with a workman's service platform.

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