already mentioned the Gingee Fort complex is
situated on three hillocks. In fact all the three
hills together constitute a fort complex, yet each
hill contains a separate and self contained fort.
The first hill, where the main fort is located, is
called Rajagiri. Originally it was known as
Kamalagiri as well as Anandagiri. The fort here is
most impregnable. It is about 800 ft. in height. Its
summit is cut off from communication and is
surrounded by a deep, natural chasm that is about 10
yards wide and 20 yards deep. To gain entry into the
citadel one had to cross the chasm with the help of
a small wooden draw bridge which was drawn only
after getting a signal from the sentries on the
parapets that a friend was approaching.
The naturally strong rock on which the fortress is
located is further strengthened by the construction
of embrasure walls and gateways along all possible
shelves and precipitous edges. It forms the
principal fortification. Seven gates have to be
traversed before reaching the citadel. This citadel
contains many important buildings apart from the
living quarters of the royalty, like the stables,
granaries, and meeting halls for the public,
temples, mosques, shrines and pavilions jostling
The lower fort consists of the following
- Vellore Gate.
- Pondicherry Gate -
probably improved by the French during their
- The Prison - on top of
- Royal Battery - probably
erected by the French.
- Venkataramanaswami Temple
- probably built during the Vijay Nagar period.
- The original tall, graceful monolithic pillars
from the temple are said to have been carried
away to Pondicherry by the French and to have
been fixed around the place de la Republique,
near the old pier.
- Pattabhi Ramaswami Temple
- architecturally very important.
- Sadatulla Khan’s mosque,
contributed by the Nawab of Arcot.
- Chettikulam and
- Platform where Raja
Desingh’s (the hero of Gingee who fought
gloriously with the Nawab of Arcot and died on
the battle field). His body is to have been
cremated by the order of the Nawab with full
honours and in orthodox Hindu style, while his
young Rajput wife committed sati.
- A large stone-image of
- Prisoner’s well where the
prisoners condemned to death were thrown and
left to die of starvation
The inner fort consists of the following
- Kalyana Mahal, perhaps the
living quarters of the queens.
- The Royal Stables.
- The Royal palace that is
in ruin. It has two large slabs of polished
stones that had served as bathing platforms for
Raja Desingh and his Rani.
- Anaikulam tank
of Venugopalaswami, where the sculpture of Lord
Krishna playing on his flute is accompanied by two
female figures. They are supposed to be his two
wives, Rukmani and Satyabhama. This is the best
piece of sculpture in the place.It is amazing to see
that even the top of the fort is well provided with
water supply and several wells, sumps and storage
tanks are located in the fort complex at various
levels. One also sees a site museum at the entrance
of the fort set up by the Archeological Survey of
India containing sculptures pertaining to various
periods and many dynasties that ruled Gingee. There
are also guns and cannon balls made of stone, strewn
about the fort.
In order to reach the top one has to undertake a
trek for over an hour. School children love to trek
to Gingee Fort and I have trekked up many times with
my children. We used to sit on top of the queen’s
palace where a cool breeze blows and eat our
C K Gariyali IAS