Prince Kassapa, the elder of two brothers but the son of a concubine and not of the royal consort, harboured a jealousy towards the heir to the throne, his half-brother Moggallana.
Kassapa secretly conspired with Dathusena’s general, who was furious about Dhatusena’s cruel treatment of his daughter. The general told Kassapa, his father would hide a treasure to give everything only to Mogallana. The enraged Kassapa killed his father and managed to seize power in 479. His brother Mogallana fled to India.
Like many other usurpers, Kassapa became a paranoid ruler living in constant fear of his brother’s return to the island. This is why he shifted his captal from Anuradhapura to a much more secure place further south, farer away from the shores of the island. He chose the steepest monadnock of Sri Lanka as his new residence and additionally fortified the surrounding area of this rock. The walls and moats can be seen till the present day. It’s the best-preserved fortification of ancient Sri Lanka: Sigiriya.
Construction work for this new capital lasted only several years. Apart from the palace on the summit of the rock, an innovative royal pleasure garden was installed within the boundaries of the Sigiriya fortified city, while his subjects settled mainly in the area in front of the western gate.
In 497, Mogallana returned from southern India with an army of Tamil mercenaries. When he advanced towards Sigiriya, Kassapa left his fortress atop his elephant to lead his own army against his brother. But when Kassapa’s elephant reached a muddy part, the animal hesitated and backed up. When his own army saw Kassapa backtracking, they wrongly assumed that this was his command to retreat. His withdrawing troups left Kassapa alone.
Finding himself surrounded by his enemies, the unfortunate Kassapa raised his sword and brought it down into his own belly. This was the end of the patricidal king and of the short period of Sigiriya being Sri Lanka’s capital. The new king, Mogallana, chose the time-honoured Anuradhapura as his residence.
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