Posted on July 28th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, important monuments like the Lion Rock Sigiriya, of the 5th century AD that belonged to the magnificent Anuradhapura era gives the nation immense power and courage to build our nation now.

He was speaking after declaring open an ultra modern archeological museum built with Japanese assistance at Sigiriya to depict the historical era reigned by the God King Kashyapa and to house fascinating artifacts found during decades of excavations at the site.

Former Prime Minister of Japan and the President of Sri Lanka Japan Friendship Association, Yasuo Fukuda joined the opening ceremony of the museum at the invitation of the Sri Lanka government.

Sigiriya Museum 01
photos by Chandana Perera

President Rajapaksa said, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- The museum could show us thousand and one things from our own splendid past that could fascinate us ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” things which we did not know and things that could be collected and exhibited for us and our future generations to see with awe.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

The President said as a nation they protected the Sri Mahabodhi , which was grown from a sapling of the same tree under which Prince Siddhartha attained the Buddhahood, and the whole Tripitaka and BuddhaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s tooth relic for the entire world. During foreign invasions and during famines like the dangerous Beminitiya Famine the Buddhist monks were taking Kara leaves as a meager food to sustain and protect such treasures.

He said during millenniums ago we were a nation who maintained museums, according to our historians.

President Rajapaksa and former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda planted two ebony plants endemic to the area to commemorate the opening of the museum.

Sigiriya Museum 02

The modern museum built according to international standards cost 480 million Rupees to built and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded the project. It has been built to improve culture oriented tourism.

A very attractive artifact which stole the attention of the President was a beautiful gold earring found during Sigiriya excavations and a furnace used to melt iron ore during Anuradhapura era.

A huge panel, in the museum, exhibited the Megha Lathas and Vijju Lathas of the Alakamanda of the God King (Kuwera) Kashyapa, that are depicted in the famous Sigiriya frescoes.

The museum contains print and electronic media aids and houses a theatre with modern facilities, auditorium, and a spacious vehicle park.

Ever since Sigiriya was re-discovered by the British explorer John Still in 1907 it has fascinated the modern world. Arthur C. Clarke the science fiction writer who lived and died in Sri Lanka thought that Sigiriya knew a kind of technology quite ahead of its time. ClarkeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s contention was that the fifth century Sigiriya damsels depicted in the frescoes were actually holding transistor radios in their hands. Artifacts collected and exhibited in the new Sigiriya museum, no doubt, will open up new vistas about a fascinating time of Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s history.

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