Gingee – The Troy of the East
Vanakkam! I am Gingee, the panchayat town of Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu. Not even half the travelers who throng to my neighbor Pondicherry know about me. Well, I don’t have the beautiful sea or the famous French architecture of Pondicherry. But I am an ancient fortified town with three lofty citadels which you can explore all day. Rajagiri, Krishnagiri and Chandrayandurg – these three together made me an impregnable fortress in the medieval ages. Shivaji admired me, and the British called me “Troy of the East”. Here I am to tell you my story.
Over 1800 years ago, the Jains laid the foundations of the fort on me. 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 also they constructed many beautiful cave temples. Then came the mighty Cholas you all must have studied in your history books. The Cholas occupied the fort since 9th century A.D. and were later defeated by the kings from Karnataka. I am talking about the great rulers of Vijayanagara Kingdom with their capital in Hampi.
The Ginjee 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 Ginjee Nayakas became independent rulers of Ginjee. It was during this time they made more constructions and enveloped the whole region by strong walls. I was a strategic location back then. All the conflicting rulers would have an eye on the exquisite fort-complex. Shivaji Maharaj, 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.
Today I am no longer a fort to fight for. The permanent residents of the magnanimous fort that kings killed for are monkeys. Tourists come here sometimes, and are awed by the architectural grandeur. The fort complex is constructed between Krishnagiri (Queen fort) to the north, Rajagiri (King fort) to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. 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. However, there are free toilet facility and parking lot in the campus. You can also stroll around the beautifully maintained gardens with no tourists around. Doesn’t it sound amazing? Will you come to meet me? Are you interested to explore one of the offbeat forts of India? You can easily include this day trip with a holiday in Pondicherry , Chennai or Mahabalipuram. Pin the image to save my postcard so that you can travel later.
Blogger’s Notes: This post is a part of the series “Postcards from India“, written for A2Z Blogging Challenge by BlogChatter for April 2020.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.