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.
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.
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.