Gingee – The Troy of the East
I remember being awestruck by the colossal structures on both sides of the road on our first drive from Bangalore to Pondicherry. Gingee is an ancient fortified town located in Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu. It’s surrounded by three lofty citadels which you can explore on a day trip from Pondicherry. Rajagiri, Krishnagiri and Chandrayandurg – these three together made Gingee an impregnable fortress in the medieval ages. Shivaji admired it, and the British called it “Troy of the East”. Here is all you need to know to plan a visit to this offbeat gem in India.
History of Gingee Fort
Over 1800 years ago, the Jains laid the foundations of the fort on Gingee. They lived there till the 5th century A.D. Then came the Pallavas. The Pallava Kings were pious Hindus and connoisseur of art and sculpture. The craftsmanship of their age has been immortalized by the cave temples of Mahabalipuram. Here too, they constructed many beautiful cave temples. Then came the mighty Cholas that many of us Indians would have read in our history textbooks. The Cholas occupied the fort since 9th century A.D. and were later defeated by the rulers of the great Vijayanagara Kingdom of 14th century.
Did you know these mind-blowing facts about Hampi, the erstwhile capital of Vijayanagara Kingdom?
The Gingee Nayakas were then the lieutenants of Vijayanagara kings and took care of the fort. After the destruction of Hampi and fall of Vijayanagara kingdom, the Gingee Nayakas became independent rulers of Gingee. It was during this time they made more constructions and enveloped the whole region by strong walls. It was a strategic location back then. All the conflicting rulers would have an eye on the exquisite fort-complex. Shivaji, the great Maratha King strengthened the forts even more. The Mughals with all their might could not occupy the forts for seven years despite laying siege. They did finally conquer the fort for a short period of time later. They built the Sadatullakhan Mosque in 1717 AD. It was subsequently conquered by French, shortly before the British took it from them.
The Ruins of the Troy of the East
Gingee Fort is way past its glory now. The permanent residents of this magnanimous fort that kings killed for are now monkeys! But even in its ruins, it doesn’t fail to amaze the visitors.
The fort complex is constructed between Krishnagiri (Queen fort) to the north, Rajagiri (King fort) to the west and Chandrayandurg to the south-east. The Krishnagiri fort is easy to climb as there are wide stairs leading to the top. At the top of the fort you will find granaries that stored supplies, the tanks and throne-room. From the top you can see Rajagiri and Chandrayandurg.
Chandrayandurg is in ruins while Rajagiri is the most intact among the three. They provide a natural fortification to the area inside. Each of the hills has a citadel of its name. In fact these are the most well-preserved forts in South India. The Rajagiri fort has a Kalyana Mahal (marriage hall), prison cells, and cave temples. You can also find a cannon, cannon balls made of rock here.
This can be challenging during the summer because of the infamous hot and humid weather in Tamil Nadu.
The government has done a great job in maintaining the gardens and tourist facilities around the fortified complex. There are free toilet facility and parking lot in the campus. You can also stroll around the beautifully maintained gardens without the usual tourist crowd. Doesn’t it sound amazing?
How to reach Gingee Fort?
There’s not many good options to stay in Gingee as it is a very small town. It’s a great day trip location from Chennai and Pondicherry. Gingee is located 156 km from Chennai and only 60 km from Pondicherry.
You can book a cab from there. Otherwise you can take a train or bus to Villipuram station. From there you can hire autos to reach Gingee. You can easily visit Gingee, spend a good amount of time there and return to the Chennai.
Read: The Best Places in Tamil Nadu to Explore
So that was a small introduction to one of the most incredible forts of India. If you liked the post share it and pin the image below. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.
Blogger’s Notes: This post was a part of the series “Postcards from India“, written for A2Z Blogging Challenge by BlogChatter for April 2020 – a series that I turned into a book with a different flavor.
Please check out my book Postcards from India on Amazon and Notionpress website, to virtually travel to the offbeat treasures of India.
The pictures are mine unless otherwise mentioned. I have visited the fortified town during my trip to Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram. This is a very old fort and archaeologists are yet to determine the origin of the fort. I got the historic information from Wikipedia and Chennai On Net. Apologize for any historic inaccuracy.
This was a completely new place for me. I have been to Pondicherry couple of times but never knew about the existence of this town.
Thanks Sonia. It’s hard to miss those lofty walls when going through the route from Bangalore, but surprisingly few people know about it.
I visited Pondicherty and no one mentioned this!I love visiting old forts and listening to their stories.
The Gingee fort definitely sounds fascinating. No wonder it is so beautifully architectural having passed through the hands of so many different dynasties including the Mughals.
You’re right Sinjana- I’ve been to Pondicherry but never knew of Gingee!
I love this storytelling style of writing…something I am doing more of. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it overmuch.
Thank you so much 🙂 Glad you liked it.
The architecture of the Gingee fort sounds like a destination worth getting off the beaten path for, especially if you want to avoid the crowds of the neighboring bigger and more well known towns.
That seems like a fun way of keeping memories, posting postcards to yourself from trips. I usually only post cards to my baby niece, and I try to find something that she would be interested in – thats within her age. For example, in Athens she was about 6 months, so I found some big old rocks that I told her about (the parthenon )
I’d never even heard of this amazing place but it looks fantastic. Love how you describe the history of the landmark too. Thank you for highlighting, it’s always nice to hear about new places which less explored.
I absolutely love ancient ruins, so I’ll be adding Ginjee to my ruins bucket list. It’s also great that it’s hardly visited by people, so many ruins have too many visitors which is probably not great for the preservation of the site with so many people. This might be a little gem that stays more authentic without the tourists.. I love th way you’ve writtenthis article too, as if the temple has a voice.
It’s a great idea to visit historic and scenic places around the world with no one around! I would love to visit Gingee and may be combine it with Pondicherry. The pictures look awesome! 🙂
Fascinating! I love hidden historic gems like this especially when there is no one else around, I’m hoping or get to do another trip to India next year and Pondicherry was on the list so maybe I can take a side trip here 🙂
Because I am a francophile I have always wanted to visit this part of India. I have a friend whose family is from there and she has told me many wonderful things about Pondicherry!
Beautiful architecture. How close were you able to get to the intricate tower?
This is so beautiful and I love exploring places that have so much culture and history. Pondicherry is such a quaint city to visit.
Wow you discovered something very authentic and historic which not many people know about it. I would love to explore this Troy of East. Good to see Gingee, which is the panchayat town in Tamil Nadu. It would great to see all these fortress Rajagiri, Krishnagiri and Chandrayandurg and I would love to check these ancient historical part of India in person.