Britishers named it as “Troy of the East”, Shivaji- the great, ranked it among the most impregnable fortress in India, the Gingee Fort in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu is the most fortified fort that beholds many different names with different significances. The Gingee Fort which is also known as Chenji, Jinji or Shenchi is one of the few surviving forts in Tamil Nadu and is the famous landmark for the pilgrims visiting Lord Arunachaleshwrar temple at Tiruvannamalai.
Not sure but the etymology suggests that the temple is believed to be built in 13th century A.D. by the Chola dynasty, the king of senji’s ananda kone and so the actual name was derived as “Sengiri” meaning the “Red Hill” in Tamil. Some people believe the name was being originated from “Sanjeevi”, the hill mentioned in Ramayana for the life saving herb called “Sanjeevani”.
This ancient fort which was discovered as a rare architectural marvel is stretched along the area of 3 square kilometer area and its history has many eloquent things to share. This unique fort was being in the hands of many emperors and rulers of different dynasties. Around 1200 A.D., the chief of the local shepherd community, Ananda Kone fortified this fort and later was under the control of the Vijayanagar King Krishnadevaraya. It was Marathas and later Mughals too that held the control of the Gingee Fort for quite some time.
Major Compositions of the Gingee Fort
The fort that brings three hills are connected by strong walls enclosing an area of 7 square km and erected at the height of 800 feet (240 m) and was protected by an 80-foot (24 m) wide moat. The fort also had an eight-storied Kalyana Mahal (marriage hall), granaries, prison cells, a military gymnasium and a temple dedicated to its presiding female Hindu deity called Chenjiamman.
The major and popular temples residing inside the fort are:
- Kalyana Temple- one of the most attractive ruins in the fort built in Indo-Islamic style the Kalyana temple consists of a square court surrounded by rooms for the ladies of the Governors household with a tower of pyramidal roof.
- Vekataramana Temple- this temple is being located to the west of the inner gate of the lower citadel and contains a remarkable sculpture depicting Lord Krishna playing on the flute with is two consorts. Built by Muthiah Nayaka in 1550 AD it is a, broad smooth slab and finely polished largest temple in Gingee.
- Ranganatha Temple- the Ranganatha is a typical Indo-Islamic style temple that has an audience hall with a damaged roof supported by a series of graceful little pointed arches. The south part is equipped with a large watchtower, a 4 meter long iron cannon.
Along with these ancient temples the other attractions of Gingee fort are:
- Barracks and Stables
- Sacred Pond
- Gymnasium and Granary
- Sad-At-Ullam Khan Mosque:
- Prisoner`s Well
Gingee is a panchayat town in Viluppuram district (South Arcot district) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu located on the Thindivanam to Thiruvannamalai road about 25 km from Thindivanam.
- 150km from Chennai.
- 65 km from Puducherry (Pondycherry).
- Nearest railway station – Tindivanam and villupuram
- Nearest airport- Chennai 150km (Madras).