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Old 3rd October 2015, 12:05   #1
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Default A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Dear readers, I’d like to start with the disclaimer that I am big history buff. When I was growing up, I used to love reading up about history. Those days, in the 90’s, it was mostly the library. I will also take this opportunity to thank the Eloor Lending Library (Press Club Road near Menaka) in Cochin for satiating my thirst back then. It really was an awesome library full of wonderful books. Is anyone from Cochin reading this?

I got so interested in it, that once in my 8th standard; my history teacher told my mom that I probably knew more about past events than her (true story). She must have been joking (will give her the benefit of doubt), but then, the voracious reader I was, it spurred me on and I read and read and learnt more as I trudged along. Many things have changed over the last 15 years for me, but one thing which has not changed, has been my love for History. The internet changed everything for me. The coming of Wikipedia too, changed everything and I became a regular contributor to the cause.

The above paragraph was only to give you all a backdrop of how I mentally function or in other words, my nerd-level. If any of you still have any lingering doubts, you should ask my wife! She hates history and when I start on my lectures, she has that wishful look suggesting that she’d be many miles away.

Ok coming to the story now. I don’t know how many of you have heard of the Gingee Fort but back in the day before we humans invented the heavy artillery or the plane, it was a very prominent and distinguished building. It was romantically called the troy of the east by the British. Chatrapathi Shivaji himself is said to have called it an impregnable fort, which was actually an oxymoron because over the years so many people have besieged and controlled it.

Legends record that it was built by the Cholas a thousand years back but surely, it cannot be true. The Cholas built huge temples, not forts! And over the years so many people have conquered the poor fort including the Kurumbars, the Nayaks, the Vijayanagaras, the Marathas, the Bijapur sultans, the Mughals, the Nawabs, the French and finally the British. The fort has been abandoned since and has been maintained by the ASI or so we thought. It actually has really been taken over by another race but more on that later. If that fort had life, it surely would have wept a river because it failed to do the single most important thing a fort was supposed to do – keep out the invaders and protect the defenders.

Sorry Shivaji, you were wrong just like King Priam of Troy. The fort was not impregnable.

The other problem with Gingee is that because of its rich heritage, the place has got so many names. The English called it the “Ginjee Fort” but say that to a mango man in Tamil Nadu and he will blink. We call it the Chenji or the Senchi or the Senji fort.

Oh, trust the vagaries in the Tamil language and the Tamil Script to convolute the situation more. It really is one of my pet peeves; the Tamil script needs to be updated. Before the Tamil nationalist rises in passionate defence, I will stop. That is a topic for another post; another forum; not Team-BHP.

My mom is a big devotee of Ramana Maharishi and we’ve gone to Thiruvanamalai quite a few times and the Gingee Fort comes along the way. I have seen it from the road and always wanted to go there. So finally, last month I decided that I had to go there; enough procrastination. The other inspiration to visit that place was that I could also write a travelogue on Team- BHP after the visit!

After the Kashmir/Ladakh trip last month, we were itching to do something local and my wife (Home Minister) was also game for the trek. I also enlisted the help of my younger cousin brother codenamed “bacha” who is getting married in the next couple of months. He readily agreed and the travelling party was ready. With him in the group, the nerd-level reached epic proportion.

Dear reader, the word “genius” is often misused. Not to sound pretentious but my grandfather was one of them. “Bacha” seems to have received all the correct genes from him but somehow, those genes bypassed my line of the family all together. The bugger does calculus as a morning snack and does advanced maths as a stress buster during office hours.

The route we planned was simple:
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-z-route-new.jpg

We planned to start early at around 6 PM so that we could start the trek by at least 9 AM before the harsh Sun melted all of us. Of course, human effort never meets human expectation and we started only by around 6:45 AM.
We had breakfast at my cousin’s place were on the GST road by 7 AM. Being Gandhi Jayanthi, I expected the road to be empty but I was wrong. The traffic was heavy till the first toll. After the first toll, traffic was light and we made good time. Just before Tindivanam, we took the right and made our way to Gingee. I expected this road to be bad based on my prior experience but they have redone the road here. Expect for brief patches, the road was top notch and we reached Gingee by 10 AM.

Entry charge – 5 Rs/person

The Gingee fort consists of 3 fortifications on three different mountain tops; The Rajagiri fort, Krishnagiri fort and the Chakkiliya fort. We chose to tackle the Rajagiri as it was my most challenging one.
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-z-bottom.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-base.jpg

Elephant Tank at the base
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-elephant-tank.jpg

I am not going to lie and say that it was a jolly trip and we skipped to the top without breaking a sweat. It was the opposite.

It looked pretty intimidating from the bottom and it was. We were not really in great shape so it was a struggle to get to the top. We huffed and puffed and step after step we forged on; and the harsh Sun had also reached its zenith. The challenges for a person in really bad shape (like myself and missus) were plenty; including the cardio workout, the stifling heat, the route which required our utmost concentration. Apart from this, we also had to deal with another problem – the aggressive monkeys.
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-z-climb1.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zclimb2.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zclimb3.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zclimb4.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zclibm5.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-krishnagiri.jpg

As I said above, the fort has not been abandoned; it has merely been taken over by the monkey gangs and they work in bunches, looking to steal the bags from unwary travellers. We actually had to contend with them on the route up and carry sticks. As soon as we discovered this problem, we fashioned lathis out of wooden sticks in the area and it helped greatly in dealing with the monkey menace.

Me doing an Aamir Khan (aka Mangal Pandey) in front of a cannon:
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zcannon1.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zcannon2.jpg

The last 20 % of the journey was the toughest and my wife almost gave up.

The Final Stretch:
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-zfinal-stretch.jpg

But then with some rest and help from me, we staggered to the top by about 11:45 AM. It had taken us a good hour and 45 minutes to reach the top. People in shape might do it a lot quicker. The view from the top was amazing and I almost felt like an (out of shape) warrior in ancient times.

Drenched!!!
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-z-top.jpg

View from the top:
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-view-top1.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-view-top2.jpg
A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-z-top-4.jpg

We spend about 15 minutes at the top and started our descent. We made quick time and we reached the car by about 1 AM only to discover that the nefarious monkeys had had the last laugh. There was monkey pee and poo all over the car. They probably had a field day in our absence.

After some basic cleaning, we hit the road. On the way back, we stopped at Haritham (on GST) for a wonderful lunch (full meals) and we hit the road again. On the way back, my cousin and I were engaged in a long discussion about WW1/fighter planes/Dogfights/Biggles/Red Baron and my wife promptly fell asleep. We were back in Pallavaram, Chennai by 4 PM and had a rejuvenating hot filter coffee at my cousin’s place.

It was a wonderful trip and as always, I get awestruck when I see such ancient monuments. It speaks volumes for the effort, labour and skill and ingenuity of our ancient ancestors. People in the South, please do visit this wonderful place, especially if you have kids. They will love it and imbibe a little of our rich cultural legacy and heritage.

Thanks for reading.
Nivatakavacha

Tips:
1) Carry a lot of water. There are no shops in the area so stock-up please; at least 2 L per person.
2) Go in a group; the human mob is the best defence against the monkey mob. Our monkey cousins are not really different from us; strength in numbers is always the best principle.
3) Carry lathis and sticks with you.
4) There is only a single rest-room (for men and women) at the base of the mountain. Nothing on the way or the top.
5) Wear a cap due to the heat and wear comfortable shoes with good grip.
6) Start as early as possible before the Sun comes out. Also, after 3 PM, no one is allowed to climb the hill.

Last edited by nivatakavacha : 3rd October 2015 at 16:36. Reason: update
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Old 5th October 2015, 07:43   #2
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Default re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th October 2015, 09:24   #3
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Default re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Nice set of snaps and crisp write-up. Thanks for sharing.
We planned to visit Gingee a couple of times, but couldn't make it happen for various reasons. After seeing your thread the itch started again
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Old 5th October 2015, 13:11   #4
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Default re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

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After seeing your thread the itch started again
Thanks Mr. Boss for your kind words. Please make the trip soon; it really is well maintained and good.
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Old 5th October 2015, 14:52   #5
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Default re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

3 hours from Chennai to Gingee is quick. I was thinking it would take around 5 hours, all my trips in that section was in peak traffic. May be that is the reason. Also, how is the road condition from Tindivanam to Gingee? It was not that great in Feb when I traveled.

We too had an idea of climbing the hill during our trip to Thiruvanamalai, however due to harsh sun and somewhat isolated nature of the place we decided against. Is there any thing you need to be careful about safety wise, apart from the usual for this place?
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Old 5th October 2015, 15:00   #6
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Default re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

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Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Is there any thing you need to be careful about safety wise, apart from the usual for this place?
Hi Suhas, we went on a public holiday (Gandhi Jayanthi), so the traffic was ok on the GST road. I know for a fact that during weekdays and peak offfice hours, travelling on that road is a big pain. Thankfully, we did not face any issues.

Also, the road from tindivanam to gingee is not bad. The road has probably been relaid since your last visit. Except for a few patches where the road is non-existent, it was smooth sailing till Gingee. But that sudden change in road conditions can be dangerous when travelling at night.

Even I was worried about safety before I went there, but in reality, it is safe. A lot of people were doing the trek when we did it, including foreigners, so apart from the monkeys, I don't think anything else will be a problem. Even so, it is better to go in a group. It always helps.

Hope that helped!
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Old 6th October 2015, 08:48   #7
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Default Re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Good to see you liked it. Maybe because of the hike/trek & your interest in history.

I happened to visit this fort while returing from pondicherry(back in 2010 march/april) and was dissapointed to say the least. Was a complete waste of close to 20 minutes I spent there.

Some dissapointing clicks of the same from back then:

A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-1.jpg

A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-2.jpg

A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!-3.jpg

Last edited by SoumenD : 6th October 2015 at 08:49.
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Old 6th October 2015, 09:16   #8
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Good to see you liked it. Maybe because of the hike/trek & your interest in history.
Hey SoumenD, I think the whole fun in visiting a place like Gingee Fort or any other hill top fortification is the trek to the main fortified area. Without doing that, visiting such a place is a waste

Hope you will do the trek next time and not just spend 20 mins!

Thanks for your comment.
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Old 6th October 2015, 09:25   #9
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Default Re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nivatakavacha View Post
Hey SoumenD, I think the whole fun in visiting a place like Gingee Fort or any other hill top fortification is the trek to the main fortified area. Without doing that, visiting such a place is a waste

Hope you will do the trek next time and not just spend 20 mins!

Thanks for your comment.
Actually i was returning from a 3 day, 1200kms solo bike trip and in the month of march/April. So, maybe it added to my dissapointment
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Old 6th October 2015, 11:12   #10
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Default Re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Hi nivatakavacha, nice trip,trek and nice set of instructions for the Gingee fort. It would not have come at a better time for me as i have a summon from Gingee court and planned to club visiting it ,since it would take not more than 30min to finish court work.

EDIT: court boycott - vaidha - plan changed to some day in future.

Last edited by printh : 6th October 2015 at 11:14.
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Old 6th October 2015, 11:41   #11
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Default Re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Nice trip nivatakavacha sir! You brought back my memories from 2012. I rode to Gingee from Chennai with my late friend.
We had such a blast! We did the trip in May.

So, apart from the heat; we were fine. Also, each one of us carried a litre of water mixed with Glucon D, so I guess that helped.
Monkeys did however scratch my seat cover in the parking area.
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Old 6th October 2015, 12:31   #12
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Default Re: A visit to Gingee Fort, Tamil Nadu!

Nice travelogue and photos nivatakavacha. Come up with more such travelogues, with history lessons.

With due respect, can I hijack your thread a bit and post info about similar looking place?

"Jamalabad fort" or "Gadaikallu" or "Narasimha Ghada": which is near Belthangady, Mangalore (KA), located in Kudremukh national park. Fort is built by Tippu Sultan on top of huge granite hill. One can reach the top by climbing 1800+ steps (not possible during monsoon). On top there is a pond, cannon, watch tower, hints of fort wall etc. This place is unknown to many. I have been to this place couple of times (once by 85 kms bicycle ride), very very scenic surrounded by mighty Kudrekukh range of hills.

Some history lesson, which I came to know from locals: Tipu was hiding from British here during war. When they came to know about this hideout and attacked, Tipu jumped and escaped from this hill. He lost his favorite horse during this dare-devil escapade.
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:35   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by printh View Post
EDIT: court boycott - vaidha - plan changed to some day in future.
Summons at Court?? I hope nothing serious. Please visit the place soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Divya Sharan View Post
Nice trip nivatakavacha sir! You brought back my memories from 2012. I rode to Gingee from Chennai with my late friend.
We had such a blast! We did the trip in May.

So, apart from the heat; we were fine. Also, each one of us carried a litre of water mixed with Glucon D, so I guess that helped.
Monkeys did however scratch my seat cover in the parking area.
The monkey menace got to you as well? Good that you enjoyed the trip. Going in a group to such places is always fun. Thanks for the comment!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nempuguru View Post
Nice travelogue and photos nivatakavacha. Come up with more such travelogues, with history lessons.

With due respect, can I hijack your thread a bit and post info about similar looking place?

"Jamalabad fort" or "Gadaikallu" or "Narasimha Ghada": which is near Belthangady, Mangalore (KA), located in Kudremukh national park. Fort is built by Tippu Sultan on top of huge granite hill. One can reach the top by climbing 1800+ steps (not possible during monsoon). On top there is a pond, cannon, watch tower, hints of fort wall etc. This place is unknown to many. I have been to this place couple of times (once by 85 kms bicycle ride), very very scenic surrounded by mighty Kudrekukh range of hills.

Some history lesson, which I came to know from locals: Tipu was hiding from British here during war. When they came to know about this hideout and attacked, Tipu jumped and escaped from this hill. He lost his favorite horse during this dare-devil escapade.
Hello Sir, thank you so much for comment. I've learnt something new today and I will remember Jamalabad fort now. I actually have to visit a lot of places in karnataka and your post is really helpful.
Thanks for your comment.
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:42   #14
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Summons at Court?? I hope nothing serious. .

Yep just one of the perks of issuing post mortem certificate for a murder - get a day off as court duty !!
Requesting your permission to attach photos here in your thread when I finish off the trip!
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:44   #15
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Requesting your permission to attach photos here in your thread when I finish off the trip!
Sure; please go ahead and post pictures when you are done! More, the merrier! Thanks!
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