Kashyapa, called Kassapa in the Pali language, ruled Sri Lanka from 473 to 495 AD. Kashyapa was the son of King Dhatusena, born to a non-royal concubine. He usurped the throne by overthrowing and imprisoning and later on killing his father and by removing his younger brother but rightful heir apparent, Moggallana, in a palace coup.
As a patricide (Pithru Ghathaka), Kashyapa was disgraced among the people and the Buddhist order. Fearing an uprise as well as an attack from Moggallana, who had fled to Southern India, Kashyapa shifted the island’s capital from Anuradhapura to a location further south and easier to defend, Sigiriya.
In Sigiriya, Kashyapa constructed a palace atop the rock, surrounded by a large citadel and a new city for merchants and craftsmen slightly further westwards. Large ramparts and moats were built around the citadel, separating it from the city of the commons. Inside the citadel, an elaborate garden was built at the foot of the rock, one of the first symmetric pleasure gardens of the South Asian subcontinent, presumably inspired by ancient Persian garden architecture.
But the rightful heir to the throne, Kashyapa’s brother Moggallana, managed to hire Tamil mercenaries in South India and with this army of experienced fighters returned to the island of Sri Lanka to claim his right to be the king. A battle ensued in the plains. When Kashyapa’s army was defeated, he killed himself with his own sword on the battlefield. This was also the end of the short period of Sigiriya serving as the capital. Mogallana shifted the royal residence back to Anuradhapura. So the Kashyapa reign is synonymous with Sigiriya period.
all Sri Lanka blog articles
by region, by topic
and A-Z here...