Gingee also pronounced, as "Shingee" is 37-km east
of Thiruvannamalai. Gingee is famous for a fort complex dating back to
13th century, located on the 3 different hill summit covering 3-km
boundary area. The Chola Dynasty built Gingee fort. The indomitable
courage and valour of its erstwhile rulers made Father Pinments, a priest
to call the Gingee Fort the "Troy of the East".
History Of The Fort The Gingee has an interesting history from 1383 to 1780, which is full of ups and downs. The Vijayanagar emperors, Marathas and the Mughals occupied it after the Cholas and it was in the hands of the French and British rulers also for sometime.
In 1638, Gingee went under control of Bijapur Sultanate from the hold of the Vijayanagar emperors. Then it went to Maratha hero Shivaji in 1677, to Mughal in 1690, to French in 1750 and to British in 1762. In Mughal period, Gingee became the head quarter of Arcot. In 18th century French occupied Gingee and kept it under occupation for 11 years, many of its sculptural antics of Gingee were then shifted to Pondicherry by them.
The fort of Gingee is really worth seeing. The historical monuments speak volumes about the past glory.
A Magnificent Fortress
According to a legend the name Gingee or Senji is derived from "Senji Amman", a virgin Goddess.
The massive walls of Gingee fort interconnect the 3 inaccessible hills- Krishnagiri, Chandrayandurg and Rajagiri. The three hills are disposed in the form of a triangle, while the main wall connecting is 20 meters thick. The top of the three hills form impregnable citadels, while the inner fort contains many fortifications and gates.
Attractions Within The Fort
One has to pass through an uneven flight of steps along the rocky hill track, which may make the visit to the fort a bit difficult. The fort houses a Gymnasium, audience hall, stable, palace, clock tower, granary, treasury in Indo-Islamic style, store-house for grains and the Elephants tank.
Kalyana Mahal is one of the most attractive ruins in the fort. It was built in the Indo-Islamic style and consists of a square court, surrounded by rooms for the ladies of the Governor's household. In the middle of this court, is a 27 metre high square tower, built of stone and has a puramidal roof.
Barracks And Stables
On the western side of the Kalyana Mahal one can see a series of low vaulted and arched cells that are referred to as the Barracks and Stables, but now it has been converted into Archaeological Conservation Training camp.
Gymnasium And Granary
It is the largest granary built in stone with a spacious entrance passage. The walls are nearly 2 metres thick. A stone structure, with barrel-vaulted roof, found on the Northern-Eastern side of the granary is said to be the Gymnasium.
Sad-At-Ullam Khan Mosque
Sad-at-Ullam Khan Mosque located at the entrance of the inner fort of Rajagiri was erected by Sad-at-Ullah Khan to commemorate his victory over De Singh and the capture of the fort in 1713 AD. According to a Persian inscription found here, the mosque is said to have been constructed in 1717-1718 AD.
Vekataramana Temple is the largest temple in Gingee, which was built by Muthiah Nayaka in 1550 AD.
Situated behind the Chakkaraikulam on the Rajagiri hill, this low circulation brick well is said to be the place where prisoners were thrown and left to die of starvation. Bathtubs with continuous supply of water, a huge cannon on the top of the fort near Chakrakulam-Kunda (reservoir) are a treasure for the tourists.
Other buildings and structures in the fort complex were raised by the successive rulers of Gingee belonging to the Vijayanagar, Nayaka, Maratha, Mughal, Carnatic Nawab, the French and British families during the period from 1383 to 1780 AD.
Just a kilometre away from Gingee there is another fort at Rajagiri, which was founded by Ananda Kon, the Chief of Konar community in 1200 AD. His successor Krishna around 1240 AD fortified the Krishnagiri. The fort of Rajagiri is made of Saffron and black rock.
On the way to the fort, one must take guide from the archaeological office. For visitors it remains open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Chennai, which has
both national and international terminals.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Tindivanam.
Road: Tourists can access Gingee from Tiruvannamalai, from where there are buses almost every hour.
Accommodation is available at the small budgeted hotels and lodges at Tiruvannamalai.