Day 1 – Gingee Fort (Senji Fort)
As planned, our most anticipated trip started at 3.30 AM on 13th Aug 2016. Four of us left Bengaluru city at this early morning hour and proceeded towards Hosur. Our first destination was Gingee fort and we traveled via Hosur > Krishnagiri > Thiruvannamalai > Gingee. After 1.5 km from Krishnagiri, we took left towards Chennai highway and continued on the service road for about 1 km, then deviated from the Chennai highway and took right towards Thiruvannamalai (via NH77).
Once we took the deviation, the road condition turned to be bad. It became bit tough to travel on such a bad road when it was still dark. The road condition continued to be bad till we reached Thiruvannamalai at around 8.00 AM. We had tasty breakfast at A2B (Adyar Ananda Bhavan). We were glad to see the hospitality shown by the person who served us the food when we struggled to communicate with him in Tamil. Thiruvannamalai temple is a very popular tourist destination in South India, but this temple was not in our plan due to time crunch. So, after breakfast, we headed towards Gingee fort which is around 40 km from Thiruvannamalai.
Gingee fort is situated in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu state. The Maratha emperor Chaptrapathi Shivaji ranked it as the “most impregnable fortress in India” and British called it as “Troy of the East”. The history behind this fort is amazing and should have been given the importance it deserves. But, unfortunately this fort is not very well known to many.
The first glimpse of the fort from the road made us believe why it was called Troy of the East. The fort was built on a huge, steep hillock which is highly difficult to climb itself. Building a complex rock fort on such a hill is hard to imagine and invading the fort is close to impossible. However, this fort had seen many dynasties conquering it in the past.
The main fort is situated on top of Rajagiri hill which is around 800 ft. high. The fort complex includes many beautiful buildings like Kalyana Mahal, Elephant tank, Granaries, Gymnasum, Kali Amman Temple, Anjaneya Temple, Venkata Ramana Swamy Temple, and so on. We reached the fort at around 9.30 AM and since the fort entrance just opened at that time, there were very less visitors.
- Visiting hours: 9 AM to 5 PM, Ticket issuing: 9 AM to 4.30 PM. Mountain climbing after 3 PM is restricted.
- Entrance fee: 15 Rs for Indians, 200 Rs for foreigners.
The seven storied marriage hall called Kalyana Mahal is a magnificent structure, but unfortunately we could not go inside the building as it was locked. It is built in indo-islamic style of architecture which is very common in Bijapur monuments. Near to Kalyana Mahal, you can see an expansive courtyard and a big elephant tank called as Anaikulam. On the way to the fort, you can find ancient gym building and huge granaries.
The main fort is situated atop a hill and there are many steep steps that lead to this fort. Since it takes lot of time to trek the hill, we skipped it. But, as we read in the internet, the fort has few watch towers, sharp turns, and narrow gates which contributed in creating obstacles for the invaders in olden days. We decided in our minds to visit this mighty fort once again in future.
Before leaving Gingee, we visited Venkata Ramana Temple in the fort complex, near the Pondicherry gate. This temple was built by the Nayaks in the 17th century. There are many temples in Gingee dedicated to lord Vishnu, however, the most notable among them is this temple. The temple has well carved tall Gopuram, beautifully decorated pillared Mandaps. It is told that French carried many pillars from here to Pondicherry during their occupation. You can find 8 of these pillars in Gandhi Mandapam situated in Rock Beach of Pondicherry. The temple has a peaceful environment and when we visited, one small group was singing Bhajan songs beautifully which added extra essence to the temple premises.
While returning, we took a glance at the Krishnagiri fort (situated in north of the main fort (Rajagiri fort)) which is built on top of a 500 ft. high hill.
Few interesting facts about this amazing fort are as follows (Reference: Wikipedia):
- This is not one fort; instead, the three hills together constitute a fort complex. Krishnagiri to the north, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast.
- The fort walls are 13 km (8.1mi) and the three hills are connected by walls enclosing an area of 11 square kilometers (4.2sqmi). It was built at a height of 800 ft. (240m) and protected by an 80 ft. (24m) wide moat.
- Top of the fort is cut off from communication and is surrounded by a deep, natural cut that is about 9.1 m wide and 18 m deep. To gain entry into the fort, one had to cross the chasm with the help of a small wooden draw bridge.
- 9th century AD: Small fort built by the Chola dynasty.
- 13th century: Modified by Kurumbar.
- 15–16th century: Nayaks, the lieutenants of the Vijayanagara Empire and who later became independent kings (Nayaks of Gingee). They rules Gingee for about 200 years.
- 1677 AD: Passed to the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji.
- 1691: Chhatrapati Rajaram (Shivaji’s second son), escaped to Ginjee and continued the fight with Moghuls from Ginjee. The Moghuls could not capture the fort for 7 years inspite of laying siege.
- 1698: The fort was finally captured and later passed on to the Carnatic Nawabs.
- 1750: Occupied by French.
- 1761: British finally took control.
Appreciating the skills of our ancient generation, we bid farewell to Gingee and headed towards Pondicherry.
- Route Traveled: BTM Layout > Krishnagiri > Chengam > Thiruvannamalai > Gingee Fort
- Distance: 236 km
- Photos: Gingee Fort Album
- A Mega Nano Trip to Kanyakumari
- Day 1 – Pondicherry (Puducherry)
- Day 2 – Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram Temples
- Day 2 – Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
- Day 3 – Rameshwaram
- Day 3 – Dhanushkodi
- Day 4 – Kanyakumari
- Day 5 – Madurai