Sunday, November 08, 2009
I am not crazy about forts although I always wanted to visit Daulatabad. But guess I will end up enjoying Daulatabad thanks to Gingee. This fort takes the cake for defining the word impregnable
Well it is very accessible...just off the Tindivanam-Tiruvannamalai road some 160 km from Chennai. Easily reachable within 3 hours from Chennai.
The impregnable for the long gone warriors of yore whose physical fitness was far better than us urban cowboys. At least that is what the history of Gingee says.
Its history is rich contrary to its popularity within tourist circuits. Cholas, Hoysalas (Krishna Deva Raya), the Carnatic nawabs, Marathas led by Shivaji, Hyder Ali and then Tipu Sultan, the French, the British and finally, the Archaeological Survey of India...the ownership and care taking of the fort passed many hands.
The Gingee Fort complex is spread across three hills with each hill hosting a separate fort. The first hill is the biggest one called Rajagiri. As the name suggests, it was the Capital and most impregnable partly because it extends 300 metres high. The structure rests over and around a large rock. the citadel of the fort is isolated by a deep chasm that can only be crossed by a wooden draw bridge. The draw bridge of yore is now replaced by a permanent wooden bridge.
The other two hills are Krishnagiri and Chakkilya Giri. I could not visit them. Rajagiri, the biggest and grandest of the three took all my time and attention.
This fort culminates Hindu, Muslim and European influences with ample space for each.