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Sigiriya and its water and boulder gardens are the zenith of Sri Lanka architectural advancement.
Generations of engineering experience in pagoda, monastery and palace building and knowledge of hydraulics in constructing ocean like reservoirs had been concentrated into the construction Sigiriya.
Believed to have been built in the fifth century AC by King Kashyapa, the original purpose of Sigiriya had been long lost within the pages of history but the engineering gen, which had been invested into this structure atop the 200 meter rock mountain,continues to amaze.
One of the most striking features of Sigiriya is its well planned and immaculately engineered hydraulic inflow and outflow conveyance system which even surpasses the present day understanding in handling the domestic, pleasure, display and aesthetic water supply needs, and drainage of storm water from an urban settlement.
Despite the popular belief that the water needed on the summit was pumped 200 meters up the rock mountain from the Sigiriya Reservoir archaeological excavation revealed that the water requirements of the castle were met through advanced water saving techniques adopted on the summit. Recent archaeological investigations had unearthed a central reservoir partially dug in rock in the southern corner and build by bricks and several other small cisterns dug in the rock, one of country’s earliest rain water harvesting apertures. Since the summit plateau has a general falling slope in north to south direction water was gathered at the ponds built atop the peak and water was usedfor domestic consumption.
At all terraced levels the rain water was diverted to a main collector passage cut into the southern edge of the rock running from north to south direction. Collected water was conveyed vertically down from a point at the southwest corner of the summitthrough a canal cut into the rock wall to a collecting cistern at the ground level.
The central reservoir or the water collection point could hold 297,000 gallons of water, which would have sustained thirty people at a per capita consumption of 300 gals/month leaving 50% for evaporation.
Other than for domestic consumption water had been used liberally for landscaping and pleasure.
The water gardens consists a geometrically laid out fountains, pools and ponds within a walled enclosure. It housed aquatic flowers and birds, and tropical trees a constant flow of water. An octagonal pool is set at the transition point from the water gardens to the boulder gardens, surrounded by a wide terrace, which follows its shape. A cleverly placed gigantic boulder almost the height of a six-storey building shelters the pool and initiates the boulder garden.
The miniature water gardens of Sigiriya has winding waterways, shallow reflecting pools, cobbled watercourses, marbled floors and an intricate layer of tiled roof buildings. Bordering the miniature water garden is a central island surrounded by four L-shaped pools, used for bathing. Adorned with polished walls, flights of steps and surrounding terraces these pools are largely similar to a modern-day swimming pool.
Water Gardens of Sigiriya
The fountains of the Sigiriya gardens with spouts made of symmetrically perforated limestone plates were fed by water pumped under gravitational pressure from the Sigiriya Lake and operate in rainy weather even today.