While in school, I remember our history textbooks focusing on the history of North India way more than the South. Off the cuff, I can recollect the Red Fort, Gwalior fort and the Jaisalmer fort. This could be either because the North of India was witnessing way more invasions in the past while South India was mostly peaceful, or perhaps people from the North ended up writing history books. If you consider the South, Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is very famous. Let me introduce you to another gem from the South – the Gingee Fort.
One of the lesser known but majestic looking Forts even today, it was considered the most impregnable fort in India by the great Maratha ruler, Shivaji. The British called it the “Troy of the East”.
Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu
History says that the Gingee Fort, also known as Senji Fort or Jingi Fort is known to have been built (not completely) by the Cholas in the 9th century. Others also say that in the 16th Century, it was built by the Nayaks of the Vijayanagara empire. This fort and the whole place in general greatly reminded me of Hampi the minute I reached there. Imagine, you are in a fort which is standing tall even after 1000+ years 🙂
Imagine, you are in a fort which is standing tall even after 1000+ years 🙂
Quick info on Gingee
Route: Chennai to Gingee Fort is about 150-160 kms. It’s in Villupuram District and we took NH45. Follow the route to Thiruvannamalai and Gingee will come about 30km before.
Transportation: Car. Ample parking available. You can go by bike as well, or buses (but you might have to switch)
Time for travel: About 2 and half hours to reach the Fort. 20-25kms off the highway.
Time needed in Gingee Fort: Two to four hours needed in Gingee Fort depending on whether you want to climb both the Forts or just one.
Expenses for two: Between Rs. 1800- Rs. 2200 max (including food, transport, entry fee etc). It would cost lesser if you went by bike or took a town bus.
Timings and Fee Details: On your left side. It is better to go as early as possible to avoid the heat. After 1500hrs, you are not allowed to climb.
Things to carry: Water bottles and cap, it gets really hot!
Climb: Moderate, as the steps are steep in some places. It does become exhaustive though there are many places to sit and enjoy the views as we climb up.
Best time to visit: August to December.
There are two forts in Gingee: Rajagiri and Krishnagiri which is also known as Raja and Rani forts respectively. You need a lot of energy/stamina to cover both the same day as the sun plays spoilsport. We covered the Rajagiri / Raja Fort only as we had no energy left to go to the other.
There is a small shop which sells water, cool drinks etc and there are no other places to get food or water within the fort. Under the control of The Archaeological Survey of India, this fort is neat and clean.
The Granaries, Gymnasium, Wedding Halls, Temples etc are all clearly marked for one’s understanding. There is no guide and therefore we did not really know the stories or the real significance about every place inside the fort. Wikipedia Jai Ho!
The experience in Gingee Fort
Once you start the climb, you will begin to understand that this may not be an easy one to conquer. There are ample places to rest and as you ascent, the views keep getting better. You cross few temples, a small pond and opportunities to click those photos.
And when you are on top, the panoramic views of this ancient town whisper in your ears. Neither your tiredness nor the sun that’s baking you every second disturbs this joyful experience. The silence pushes you to an alternate world and the vast empty lands only makes you visualize history, you wish you could have witnessed.
There is a very interesting story that there was a tunnel that connected Gingee and the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Rock beach, Pondicherry. The story around the shutdown of this tunnel is that suffocation lead to the death of many.
Aside: You can read more on Pondicherry and things you may not know about this French town.
That’s how tired and knocked out (Narayanan’s face says it all actually :P) we were as we started our descent. Nevertheless, be ready to be awed by the construction and the history this place is home to. Walk and enjoy the pan views of this small town and let me know how your experience was.
Looking at the Krishnagiri / Rani fort from here (pic above), we decided to come prepared another day. My trip to this fort is pending and I hopefully get a chance to explore it soon.
If you have covered all three, please let us know about the experience. I would love to know to hear from you!