India has a lot of hidden gems and in my opinion the Gingee fort is one of them. Located in Tamil Nadu, the Gingee fort is also known as Senji fort. It got its nickname ‘The Troy of the East’ from the British because of how well the fort is fortified. In fact, a famous Indian (Maratha) king named Shivaji even went as far as to say that the Gingee fort was the most impregnable fortress of India.
A view through one of the arches.
Like I said before, the Gingee fort is located in Tamil Nadu. It is most easily accessed from Pondicherry (71 km). Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu is a little further off at 156 km. We found that the Gingee fort was a great pit stop on drive back to Bangalore from Pondicherry.
STRUCTURE OF THE GINGEE FORT
A closer look at the structure at the top.
At first glance the Gingee fort does not look like much. Don’t let it fool you. As we drove towards the fort, our eyes fell upon a structure on our left that was situated at the top of a hill. It was large enough to capture our attention and impress us and yet it did not seem as big as Google described it to be. It was only as we began to climb up the steps that we realized the true size of the Gingee fort.
The Gingee fort is located across three different hills. Krishnagiri is situated in the north, you will find Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg lies to the southeast. We climbed up the Krishnagiri part of the fort. Unfortunately because of my recent illness that was as much as we could do, so I guess exploring the rest of the fort has been deferred to a different date.
The monkeys that guarded the entrance.
At the entrance of the Gingee fort at Krishnagiri, you have to pay an entrance fee. The guard is an ex-army soldier and he regaled us with a number of cheerful stories of his life. We would have loved to listen to him and chat a lot more but it seemed like all the monkeys in the neighborhood were attracted to us at once. Lesson learned! Keep your food in the car. Poor Shawn had to scurry back before the monkeys picked the clothes of him.
A glimpse of the stairs that took us to the top.
The climb up Krishnagiri isn’t difficult. You can do it at a slow pace (like we were forced to do) or you can do it fast. I did love all the breaks and stops that we took on the way because the view was beautiful and the wind was cool. It was an overcast day and we did not have to worry about the scorching sun overhead. We did however have to run for cover when the skies opened and showered us with rain but that was at the end of our adventure and it did not worry us too much.
One of the structures at the top.
As you climb higher, you will be able to see the wall of the fort snaking around all three hillocks. Rajagiri stands tall and high on your right. We couldn’t help wondering how people got up there. I’m sure that there is a path but we didn’t go about searching for it. Chandrayandurg lies straight ahead of you and the path to this part of the fort is clearly visible. Across the road, somewhat in the center of the plains you will see a structure. That structure is called the Kalyana Mahal.
This was how far we could see on a cloudy day.
As we climbed higher we had the opportunity to appreciate the distance at which the people within the fort could see. Ours was an overcast day and yet we could see for miles ahead. On a bright sunny day the vision must have been much much better.
At the very top, there were granaries that stored their supplies. Two large tanks (which we initially thought were for water) were used to store oil and ghee. A few structures dot the area and give you an idea of how impressive the fort must have looked back in the day. It is fun to head up to the lookout points. Once you climb into them you begin to appreciate how cramped the space must have been. I say that and I am just 5’2”!!!
The old structures have stood the test of time.
Despite the centuries that have gone by, the Gingee fort is still relatively well preserved. Unfortunately it hasn’t been declared a UNESCO heritage site yet but hopefully someday in the future it will be. If you are passing through the area, do stop and visit the fort. I would recommend spending the whole day in the area but I know from experience that it isn’t always possible.
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