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Gingee Fort

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Gingee fortGINGEE FORT


To know about the Fort from Pre-historic time clear evidence were not available. With some of the collected details, historians framed the history of Gingee Fort.
B.C. to 6 A.D. In comparison with evidences available from other sources like the evidence of rock-cut inscription of Jain monkGingee jain ascetics Chandranandhi, from the figures of twenty four Jaina Thirthankaras in Sinukadambur, from the figures of Jains ascetics in Thirunathar hill and from the evidences of rock-cut beds of Jains in the upper part of Krishnagiri hill and foot print on the hill top, Chakkildurgam (or) Sangilidurgam, historians strongly believe that Jains lived in Gingee from 200 B.C. in 500 A.D.
Gingee Under the Pallavas :- (600 A.D. to 900 A.D.)
During the reign of the Pallavas a cave temple was excavated in the natural hill in Singapuram. They built a temple in Panamalai which is to the south of Gingee. In Mandagapattu, which is 17 kms, away from Gingee, a cave temple was excavated in a rock. A rock inscription portrays Pallava Mahendravarman (580 A.D. to 630 A.D.) as Vichitrachitha. We can conclude from these evidences that Gingee was once under the rule of Pallava kings and also the cave temples and rock inscriptions at Singavaram and Melacheri situated near Gingee tell about the Pallava regime in Gingee.
Gingee under the rule of Cholas :- (900 A.D. - 1103 A.D.)Gingee under cholas
From the rock-cut inscriptions in Aanangur, East of Gingee, it is known that after the decline of the Pallava kings, Gingee was under the contrl of Adita Chola (871 A.D. - 907 A.D.) Then during the reign of Adita Cola II and his broter Rajaraja Cola I (985 A.D- 1014 A.D.) it was called "Singapuranadu". From these evidences we come to know that Gingee was under the rule of the Cholas.
Gingee under the rule of Later Pandya, Pallava and Hoysalas :-
   (1014 A.D. - 1190 A.D.)

From the Book ""Karnataka Rajakkal Savistara Charitham" British Historian Mecans says that after the rule of the Cholas, Gingee came under the supermacy of Pandya, Pallava and Hoysalas.
Gingee under Konar Heritage : -(1190 A.D. - 1330 A.D.)Gingee Konar Heritage
Gingee was under the sway of chieftains, Anandha Koan, Krishna Koan and Pullia Koan even though there was no epigraphical evidences from Koan rule but it is specified in some books. By foreign sources we come to know that Anandha Koan built "Anandha Giri" and afterwards it became "Raja Giri" His son Krishna Koan built "Krishna Giri"

Gingee under the rule of Vijayanagar Kings :- (1400 A.D.) 
From the survey of books that were present during Vijayanagar period, we come to know that Gingee was under the authority of Kopnnarayer during the 14th Century A.D.  Historians hold the opinion that Kopannarayr, one of the Generals of Vijayanagar empire helped Kampannarayan, with a large army. In return, Kampannarayan handed Gingee over to Kopannarayer. 


Gingee under the Nayakka rulers : - (From the end of 14th century
   A.D. for 150 years) 

During the peak of Krishna Deva Raya's power (1509 A.D. - 1529 A.D.) he ordered, Krisnappa Nayyaka to rule a region with Gingee as its capital. He and his successors ruled for about 150 years having capital at Gingee. 

The Nayyaka rulers, build tall and strong fort walls with granite, tall towers with sculptural workmanship granite temples on the plains and brick shrines on the peak. This architecture is similar to that architecture in "Hampi" 


Under the rule of Muhammaadans:-(1649 A.D. - 1677 A.D.) 
There was no unity among the Nayakas of Gingee, Tanjore and Madurai. There where frequent skirmishes among them. 

Taking advantage of this situation, the Bijapur Sultans, who belong to the Muhammadans dynasty, invaded Gingee at the beginning of the 16th Century A.D. and captured it. After this the army general of "Golgonda" , "Mirjeeva" defeated Krishnappa Nayyaka and handed Gingee over the king of Bijapur. 


Gingee under the Marathas:- (1677 A.D. - 1697 A.D.) 
After the fall of the Muhammadans rule at the end of the 17th century, Chattrapathi Shivaji, a scion in the annuls of History wrested Gingee from the Muhammadans. Then he asked his brother " Sambaji" to rule Gingee in 1690 A.D. afterwards it was handed over to Rajaram in 1697 A.D.  


Gingee, under the rule of the Mughals:- (1700 A.D-1750 A.D.) 
The Mughal General Zulfigar Khan (1697 A.D. - 1698 A.D.) captured Gingee fort after a tough fight against the Marathas. 

Zulfigar Khan, then handed over the rule to Swaroop singh who was the army head at Bundalakand in 1700 A.D. on conditions that he had to collect tax under the supervision of Sad-ad-ullah khan of Carnatic. 

After the death of Swaroop, his son Desingh Raja came to the throne. He hated to be a slave to the Mugal rulers and refused to pay the tax to the Nawab. So a war took place between Sad-ad-ullah khan and Desingh Raja. At the end of the war, Desingh Raja by killing himself made a supreme sacrifice to avoid being a prisioner in the hands of Mogul rulers. Historians say that though Desingh Raja ruled for short period, he deeply engraved his marks in the history of Gingee. His wife also throwing herself into fire committed suicide to safeguard her chastity which is considered as highly holy. 

After the death of Desingh Raja, Sad-ad-Ullah khan conquered Gingee in 1714 A.D. and ruled till 1750 A.D. for about 36 years. 


Gingee under the rule of the Foreigners :- (1750 A.D.) 
French people who came to India, for the purpose of trade and commerce, attacked Gingee under the command of "Puli" and his troops, captured Gingee and kept Gingee under their control for about ten years. During this period French People annexed Vandavasi in 1760 A.D. and Pondicherry in 1761 A.D. Then the Britishers under the command of General "Coot" attacked the French Army on April, 1761 A.D. by winning the war, they brought Gingee under the control of the British Captain 'Stephen Smith'. 

After this time. the General of Mysore, Hyder Ali became the king in 1761 A.D. A.D. As Hyder Ali did not like the British rule in India, he waged war against the British many times. So the Britishers made peace treaty with Hyder Ali. After few years, when Warren Hastings became the Governor General of India, Hyder Ali blamed Britishers for going against the treaty and waged war in 1780, by moving his troops via Polur and Vandavasi to caputure Gingee. But he was defeated by the Britsh army. 

After 1780 A.D., the southern parts gradually fell into the hands of the British without any opposition. Due to the political changes in Carnatic area, the Britishers made Chennai fort for the transport facilities and the French made Pondicherry as their capital and started to rule Indian territory. 

In the beginning, Gingee was the place of the Jains but later due to rule of Pallava, Chola kings, Pandya, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara kings. Muhammadans, Mughals and the indifferent attitude of foreigners, the Gingee fort, which was surrounded by the granite walls, the mandapas, the temples inside the fort, was gradually destroyed. The Britishers did not take any steps to renovate the fort. Today Gingee fort is placed as a memorial in the pages of history and also for the sake of its admirers.

The places situated inside the Rajagiri Fort.
Mohammed Khan Mosque, Elephant tank, Servants room and Royal Palace, Magazine
Gymnasium, Granery, Venugopala Swami Temple
The places situated a top the Rajagiri Fort
Balaranganathar Temple, Pond and Mandapa, Kamalakanni Amman temple, Ranganathar Temple, Bell tower / Watch tower, Cannon, Draw Bridge
The places situated around the Rajagiri Fort
Architecture of Jumma Mosque, Temple of Seven Maidens, Funeral place of Desing Raja, Chakkarai Kulam (Tank), Anjaneyar Temple, Prisoners' well, Chetty kulam (Tank), Venkataramana Temple, Gate way of Pondicherry, Sad-Ullah Khan Mosque, Gate way of Vellore, Temples of Lord shiva and Amman Shrine

Kalyana Mahal 
Inside the fort there is a Kalyana Mahal, which has a pyramid like sturcture at the top, built in Indo-Islamic style. It is very beautiful and it attracts the hearts of the visitiors. The mahal is so wonderful in its structures and has rooms for women's stay, a pond of three square meter, built with curved verandahs, with windows, stair cases on either side of each floor. Moreover terracotta pipes are fixed on the inner wall of the mahal for water to come in.

Mohammed Khan Mosque
Swaroop Singh, who belonged to Rajaput dynasty became one of the captains of the Moghal's armies. At the end ot 17th century A.D. Swaroop Singh was enthroned as a ruler of Gingee by the Delhi emperor. Desing was the son of the couple Swaroop Singh and his wife Ramabai.

Desing being a solitary player in his palace, Swaroop Singh felt that his son needs a suitable comparing to play with him. Therefore he selected and adopted Mohammed khan as a suitable intelligent friend to his son. Mohammed khan was the son of Palayakkar of valuthavaur.

Desing and Mohammed khan became friends. Later they practiced all royal sports and became well qualified for the kingship.

A Mosque facing towards East, adjacent to Kalyan Mahal (Rani Mahal) was built with lime mortar and bricks in the palace grounds as a worship place for his dear friend Mohammed khan.

The mosque of 7.70 meters in length, 6 meters in breadth and 12 meters in height is now in ruined condition and this is not appearing as a monument today.

Elephant tank
To the South of Kalyana Mandapam the Elephant tank is situated. Even now it is called the Elephant tank since it is so big that it can accommodate elephants. 

Steps are provided in the Southwest corner of the tank so that elephants could climb down and get out easily, say historians. Gingee Elephant Tank

The tank measures 58 meters long, 40 meters wide and 15 meters deep. On the four sides of the tank, a cloister mandapa with 134 stone pillars has been constructed. 

Some historians hold the view that this tank would have been used as a swimming pool by kings, royal family, relatives of kings and generals.


Gymnasium Gingee fort Gymnasium

This is a granite building in wagon shape roof to the West of the elephant tank. This place was used to do physical exercise. This place, in those times was used to secretly train sepoys and to preserve the war weapons.


The Architecture of Jumma Mosque
In 17th Century A.D. Sad-ad-ullah khan ruled Gingee during his rule he built a mosque near the pathway to Chakkarai Kulam, Chettikulam and Sri Anjaneya temple.
Jumma Mosque
The entrance of Sd-ad-ullah khan's Jumma mosque was built with lime mortar and with arch and ornamental decorations. Even though the entrance is with measures of 2.50 meter. length, 2.10 meter. breath and 4 meter. height, it is in ruined condition.

The next one is rectangular shaped granite stage with measures of 12.25 meter. length, 9.65 meter breadth and 1 meter height on this stage, a mosque (worship place) facing towards east, has been constructed with mortar and bricks in the west side. It's measures are 12.25 meter. length 9.65 meter. height. But this mosque is in destructive condition.

On the Opposite side to this mosque, there is one burial ground/cemetery where dead bodies were buried. This cemetery architectures are preserved from further damages by the Department of Archaeology safely.


seven maidensTemple of Seven Maidens
When we enter through the southern gateway, we can see the temple of Seven Maidens. This temple is buildup of bricks. These are in dilapidated, condition. Historians say that people worshipped Seven Maiden Goddesses in this temple and Gingee got its name from the eldest Maiden named Gingee Amman.


Funeral placeThe funeral place of Desing Raja
Desing Raja's funeral place is in the form of a stage constructed with granite. It is located near the northern steps of the Chetty pond. It is said that is wife committed sati by falling into the funeral pyre of her husband.


Chakkarai tankChakkarai Kulam (Tank)
Chakkarai kulam pond is situated on the right side of the path to Hanuman temple. It has its own physical features. It is planned and built in low lying areas in such a way that water from surround areas is being collected in the pond during monsoons.


Prisoners wellPrisoners' well
To the west of the Hanuman temple there is a Prisoners' well on a large rock. It is a natural rock over they built a circular wall of 38 meters in circumference, 12 meters in inner circumference and 4 meters in depth with bricks. The interior part looks spacious and deep and it is built in such a way that no one can climb and look out. In those days they pushed the condemned prisoners into the well and so they died of thirst and hunger.


Gate way of Pondicherry
When we move across the pathway in the East, we can see the gate with mandapa facing Pondicherry. So this gateway got its name as "Gateway of Pondicherry" In front of Pondicherry Gate entrance at Eastern side (North facing gate entrance of top portion The Persian inscription is found and its translate in English) is given below.

"'The Exalted Khan Saddatulah Khan, upon whom be multiplied the blessing of Haider, Captured the fort of Gingee by the favors of incomparable almighty Ghulam Ali discovered date for it. Islam Expelled infidelity 1125 HIJRI (1712 A.D. - 1713 A.D.)"


Origin name of the fort
The actual name of Gingee is Sengiri meaning perhaps the Red Hill in Tamil that has got corrupted into Gingee. Some say that the name Sengiri has originated from 'Sanjeevi' the hill mentioned in Ramayana from where Hanuman gets the life saving herb, the Sanjeevini Booti for Lakshamana when he is lying unconscious during the war between Rama and Ravana. The Sanjeevi herb is the panacea of Indian mythology. It has been explained as the combination of two roots, Sam (pleasure) and Ji (life). The name has also been traced to Singavaram the neighbouring Vaishnavite shrine, whose lord is supposed to be the guardian deity of the place.

The local tradition has another explanation to offer. The legend runs that seven virgin sisters once lived here and one of them was known as Senjiamman. Their modesty was threatened with the possibility of violation of their chastity. Even though a valiant man named Thadikara Virappan rescued them from danger, they could not survive the insult and so committed suicide. Their spirits are even now believed to be haunting the place and considered the genii loci. Each of the sisters has got her own little shrine still existing and attracts votaries from the neighbourhood. It is very probable that Senjiamman who is worshipped on top of one of the hills gave her name to the particular hill and this afterwards came to be the common designation of the whole circle of hills and villages below.

Another of the sisters, Kamalakanniamman, has a shrine dedicated to her at the base of Rajgiri, which, on certain days in the year attracts a great number of worshippers. This hill was originally known after the goddess as Kamalagiri. Gingee also had an earlier name known as Krishnapura. This name was possibly given to it by its first ruling dynasty that were of shepherd class and whose tutelary deity was Lord Krishna. However, it is possible that it might have received the name from its powerful ruler, Krishnappa Nayak.


The Bijapur Nawabs who held the fort from about 1660-77 A.D. called it Badshabad, while the Marathas who succeeded them called it Chandry or Chindy. The Mughals, on their capture of the fort in 1698 A.D. named it Nasrat Gaddah in honour of Nawab Zulfiquar Khan Nasrat Jang, the commander-in-chief of the besieging army. Later, the English and the French called it Gingee or Jinji. The early Madras records of the English give the spelling Chingee or Chengey. Whatever might be the name by which it might have been known in different epochs, it has retained the name Gingee.

The chief source for the first two hundred years of the history of the place is the "Complete History of the Carnatic Kings" among the Mackenzie manuscripts. One Narayan, who claimed to be a descendant of the Ananda Kon Clan of Gingee, compiled it, after a consultation with numerous authorities, both Hindu and Muhammadan. According to Narayan, Gingee became a fortified place only about 1200 A.D. Ananda Kon of the shepherd community, accidentally found a treasure in one of the cavities of the Western hill while grazing his sheep. Making himself the head of a small band of warriors, he defeated the petty rulers of the neighbouring villages and built a small fortress on Kamalagiri which he renamed Anandagiri after himself.

The Kon dynasty ruled Gingee from 1190 to 1330 A.D. This shepherd race was then superseded by the chief of a neighbouring place called Kobilingan, who belonged to the kurumba caste and ascended the throne of Gingee. He was a feudatory of the powerful Cholas. This way Gingee came into the hands of various ruling dynasties of South India starting from the Cholas.