Gingee Fort

Adventure / Trekking | Historical

Photo Credit: Flickr

Distance (From Vellore): 93 Kms

Trip Duration (Including Travel): 6-8 Hours

Place Location: Between Tiruvannamali & Tindivanam

Transportation Options: Bus / Cab / + Walk/Trek

Travel Tips: The fort and monuments demand good amount of walking and trekking for about 2-3 hours. This is an ideal getaway from Chennai to spend full day.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM, Entry Fee: Rs. 5 for Indian & Rs. 100 for Foreigners

At a distance of 2 km from Gingee Bus Stand, 71 km from Puducherry, 85 km from Kanchipuram and 93 km from Vellore, Gingee Fort or Senji Fort in Villupuram District is one of the largest surviving forts in Tamil Nadu. The fort was historically considered most impregnable and it was called the 'Troy of the East' by the British. The fort is one of the prominent tourist places to visit near Villupuram & Chennai also among the best places near Chennai & Pondicherry for a day trip.

Originally the site had a small fort built by the Chola dynasty during 9th century. Gingee Fort, also known as Chinji or Jinji, was modified by Kurumbar while fighting the Cholas and again by the Vijayanagara Empire during the 13th century. As per one account, the fort was built during the 15-16th century by the Gingee Nayaks, the lieutenants of the Vijayanagara Empire and who later became independent kings. The fort passed to the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji in 1677 AD, the Mughals, Carnatic Nawabs, French and the British in 1761.

The Gingee Fort complex is spread on three hillocks, Krishnagiri to the north, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. The three hills together constitute the fort complex, each having a separate and self-contained citadel. The first hill, where the main fort is, is called Rajagiri. The fort walls are 13 km long and the hills are connected by walls enclosing an area of 11 square kms. It was built at a height of 800 feet and protected by an 80 feet wide moat. One has to pass through a long flight of steps along the rocky hill track to explore the fort.

The complex has a seven storey Kalyana Mandapa, granaries, prison cells, and a temple dedicated to its presiding Hindu goddess called Chenjiamman. The fortifications contain a sacred pond known as Aanaikulam. On the top of the hillock, there are few minor fortifications.

The Kalyana Mandapa is one of the most attractive monuments in the fort that is built in Indo-Islamic style. It consists of a square court, surrounded by rooms. In the middle of this court, there is a 27 m high square tower, built of stone. The tower has a pyramidal roof. On the western side of the Kalyana Mandapa 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.

Vekataramana Temple is located in the lower fort, the temple contains a remarkable sculpture depicting Lord Krishna playing on the flute. This is the largest temple in Gingee, which was built by Muthiah Nayaka in 1550 AD. Ranganathar Temple, bell tower, watch tower, cannon are located atop the Rajagiri hill.

The second important hillock with an imposing citadel is known as Krishnagiri. The Krishnagiri fort lies to the North of Tiruvannamalai road. It is smaller in size and elevation compared to Rajagiri fort. A flight of steps carved on granite stones leads to its top. Another fort connected with Rajagiri with a low rocky ridge is called Chandrayana Durg or Chandragiri.