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Old 28th February 2009, 02:19   #1
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Lightbulb 'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.

Another 'Blast from the past' from my archives. This trip is quite recent though, from November 08. The main purpose of the trip was to attend my relative's wedding in AP. Since we were driving into the interiors, we thought of visiting some lesser known places which are somewhat off the beaten track.

Route taken:
Bangalore > Hoskote > Chintamani > Madanapalle > Gurramkonda > Rayachoti > Cuddapah > Vontimitta > Siddhavatam > Brahmamgarimatam.

Main places visited:
Gurramkonda
Gurramkonda (Gurram-Konda means Horse-hill) is a hill-fort located in Chittoor district on the Cuddapah (Kadapa) - Bangalore highway, around 32kms from Madanapalle. The fort stands on top of a 500ft hill with three almost perpendicular sides.

The fort was originally a mud & rock construction, under the control of the Vijayanagara (Hampi) kingdom. Later it passed through the hands of the Golconda sultans who strengthened the fortifications with rock walls, later the fort was taken over by the Marathas, the Cuddapah Nawabs, Hyder Ali & Tipu Sultan and was eventually by the British.

According to local legend, the hill-fort was called 'Gurramkonda' since there was a statue of a horse on top of the hill, which was believed to be the guardian of the fort. The fort was impregnable so long as the horse remained there. When the Marathas laid siege on the hill, they tried every trick in the book to conquer the fort but could not do so. When they learnt about the legend of the horse statue, a Maratha chief managed to scale the hill one night and carry away the horse. Thus the spell was broken and on the next attack, the fort fell to the Marathas.

Apart from a couple of temples on the hill, the main places to see are the fort ramparts, the Ranginimahal palace and the tomb of Mir Raza Ali Khan, who was Tipu Sultan's maternal uncle.

As a kid, I used to visit Kadapa quite often and every time we passed through Gurramkonda I would stare at the 'Ranginimahal' palace which is visible from the main road. I was quite fascinated by the quaint old structure, but never actually got the opportunity to stop and take a closer look at it. This time around I finally got to see Gurramkonda fort and the Ranginimahal from close quarters.

Some interesting pics and perspectives that capture the essence of Gurramkonda better than any of my pics do...


A Satellite pic of the Gurramkonda hill...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-gurramkondagsat.jpg
Courtesy: Google maps.


A pen & ink drawing of the Gurramkonda, made in 1802 by Thomas Fraser, a surveyor with the Madras Engineers...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-thomasfraser.jpg
Courtesy: British Library


A painting of the Gurramkonda fort by Thomas Fraser...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-thomasfraser1a.jpg
Courtesy: British Library


Description of the layout and the elevation of the Ranginimahal palace in Gurramkonda, drafted by Thomas Fraser...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-thomasfraser2.jpg
Courtesy: British Library


A pic taken by the Archeological Survey of India, in 1898, which shows the eastern side of the Ranginimahal palace, Gurramkonda...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-asi1898palace.jpg
Courtesy: British Library


A pic taken by the Archeological Survey of India, in 1898, showing the tomb of Mir Raza Ali Khan...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-asi1898tombmir-raza-ali-khan.jpg
Courtesy: British Library



Vontimitta (Ontimitta)
The small town is situated about 28 kilometers from Kadapa on the Kadapa - Chennai main road. Though there are several stories about why town got its name, the most plausible story seems to be that as the town is located on a single hillock, it was called 'Vonti-mitta’, i.e. single-hillock.
The other version is that two locals Vontodu and Mittodu helped a King who had camped in that area and the King gave them ownership of that area as a reward. The village that came up in that area was named after the first part of both their names and hence Vonti-Mitta.

Another legend says that the idol in the Kodandarama temple here is carved from a single stone, hence the temple was called the 'onti-mitta' temple, i.e. single rock.

The main place to see in this town is the temple of Sri Kodandarama, a 14th century structure which was originally developed by the Cholas and later by the Vijayanagara kings. There are also several local legends linking this area to the Ramayana.


Siddhavatam
This small fort is located around 25 Kms from Cuddapah. Built in 1303 AD, the fort stands on the banks of river Pennar and covers an area of 30 acres. The fort was extensively damaged during an attack by Hyder Ali and most of the buildings inside the fort have disintegrated over the centuries.

Currently the main places to see inside the fort are the fort bastions, ruins and foundations of the palace complex and other buildings, a tomb of a Muslim saint, a few Mantapas with carved pillars and a passage tunnel carved / built from the fort to the Pennar river which flows next to the fort.


A Satellite pic of the Siddhavatam fort, clearly visible as the rectangular construction next to the river...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-siddavatamgsat.jpg
Courtesy: Google maps.


A water color painting of the Siddhavatam fort by Thomas Fraser, this too is from the year 1802...
'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-thomasfrasersidfortwatercolor.jpg
Courtesy: British Library




Brahmamgarimatam
'Brahmamgarimatam' is the place where Sri Potuluri Veerabrahmam - also known as the 'Nostradamus of India' stayed in Kandimallayapalli area. He entered Jeeva Samadhi in the year 1693.

The Brahmamgari-matam temple was built after Sri Veerabrahmam entered into his Samadhi. There is nothing architecturally significant about the matam as such, but it is certainly a unique place where one can get glimpses about the life, times and the predictions by Sri Veerabrahmam.

The main places to see here are the Matam, the Veerabrahmam dam and a couple of temples.


To be continued with a few trip pics...

Last edited by hotstuff : 28th February 2009 at 02:30. Reason: Typo...
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Old 1st March 2009, 08:35   #2
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Lightbulb Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam...

Somewhere near Hoskote; looks like a fabrication & storage yard for wind-mill blades. It is difficult to comprehend the actual size of the blades when we see a wind-mill on a hill side; when seen from near, each one looks as big as the wing of a commercial jet...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-1.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-2.jpg


Due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal, there were un-seasonal rains in many parts of South India, so the weather was quite pleasant during the drive.

First view of the Gurramkonda hill...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-3.jpg


The near vertical sides of the hill which made the fort almost impregnable...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-4.jpg


The fort walls and the Ranginimahal palace at the foot of the hill...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-5.jpg


A closer view of the quaint little palace...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-6.jpg


If you look at Thomas Fraser's 1802 surveys of the building, the staircase is missing. It is an addition made later during the time when the palace was being used as an office and residence of the local British officials...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-7.jpg


Most of the palace is in a relatively good condition, though some of the walls have major cracks and may need some urgent repairs...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-8.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-9.jpg


The eastern side of the palace, with the grand staircase...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-10.jpg


There some small and dilapidated buildings around the main palace, sporting signs of typical British colonial architecture. They were later additions to be used as servant quarters or store-rooms...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-11.jpg


The surrounding hills...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-12.jpg


After spending some time inside the fort area, we drove on towards Cuddapah and halted there overnight.

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-13.jpg


Something which can be seen normally during the monsoon season, but due to the un-seasonal rains, we got to see some waterfalls in the ghat section near Cuddapah...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-14.jpg


The Ghat road...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-15.jpg


We headed straight towards B'matam, with the intention of attending the wedding and we would stop by at the other places to see on the way back.

The Veerabrahmendra Swamy reservoir in Brahmamgarimatam...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-17.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-18.jpg


Accommodation was at the guest house at one end of the dam. A picturesque location...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-19.jpg


Attended the function and headed back towards Cuddapah the next day. First stop on the way back was at Siddhavatam fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-20.jpg


This is a small fort on the banks of the Pennar River. The bastions of the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-21.jpg


The main entrance into the fort. The moat that once surrounded the fort is now mostly filled up vegetation...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-22.jpg


The mandapam (canopy) behind the main gate...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-23.jpg


The fort was heavily damaged by Hyder Ali's troops when they laid siege on this fort. Subsequently the fort was abandoned and many structures either crumbled over the centuries and some were pulled down by the locals to be used as construction material in the village. Currently the ASI is restoring parts of the fort with the material that was originally used. I.e. Stone, Mud-bricks, Lime mortar...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-24.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-25.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-26.jpg


Ruins of some of the royal buildings in the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-27.jpg


There are footpaths to walk around inside the fort area...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-28.jpg


Some of the surviving structures inside the fort. A mosque and a couple of other buildings built after the fort was taken over by Hyder Ali. If you look at Thomas Fraser's 1802 water color painting of the fort, you can see these structures depicted inside the fort....

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-29.jpg


There is also a tomb of a local saint...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-30.jpg


A small temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-31.jpg


To be continued...

Last edited by hotstuff : 1st March 2009 at 08:39.
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Old 1st March 2009, 08:51   #3
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the small details from history really makes the travelogue great. Especially the pics from the library adds a nice touch.
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Old 1st March 2009, 08:55   #4
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Lightbulb Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam...

The Pennar River, as seen from one of the Siddhavatam fort bastions...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-32.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-33.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-34.jpg


A building being used by the caretaker's family...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-35.jpg


The tomb structure...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-36.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-37.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-38.jpg


Close to the tomb, there is a tunnel built into the fort walls, which leads down to the river. During the monsoon season, the other end of the tunnel can be under water...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-39.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-40.jpg


The fort walls. Unlike the precisely cut rocks used in forts like Chitradurga, this fort is built with roughly hewn stones and lime-mortar...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-41.jpg


A Nandi, with its head hacked off...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-42.jpg


A stone cannon-ball...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-43.jpg


The Mandapa close to the other entrance of the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-44.jpg


The moat around the fort. This would have been filled with water and home to a couple of crocodiles, put there with an intention to welcome the unwanted visitors ;-)

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-45.jpg


The other entrance gate of the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-46.jpg


Foundations and walls of some of the buildings that once graced the fort...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-47.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-48.jpg


A closer view of the Mandapa that is being renovated...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-49.jpg


One last look at the fort as we walked out...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-50.jpg


Since the other bridge was being repaired, traffic was diverted through the lower / old bridge, which sometimes gets completely submerged when the Pennar River is in spate during the monsoons...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-51.jpg


Next stop was at the Ontimitta Sri.Kodandarama temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-52.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-53.jpg


It is quite a big temple, with elaborate carvings and built in a blended architectural style...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-54.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-55.jpg


The temple is quite well maintained...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-56.jpg


The elaborately carved mukhamandapam of the temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-57.jpg


A pic of the temple entrance gopuram, in a night-shot mode...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-58.jpg


The intricate carvings near the entrance...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-59.jpg


The Dwajastambham (the flag mast) of the temple...

'Xing'ing around ! - Gurramkonda, Vontimitta, Siddhavatam, Brahmamgarimatam.-60.jpg


We stayed overnight in Cuddapah and started back towards Bangalore early next day.


--------------------------------------------------

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Old 1st March 2009, 10:14   #5
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Thanks for Very detailed pics of the historical places. This makes the travelogue a very interesting read.
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Old 1st March 2009, 14:10   #6
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Hotstuff does it again. Great going man. Love your detailed reports. It'll be big help if someone wanna make trip to these relatively unknown places.
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Old 1st March 2009, 21:29   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
the small details from history really makes the travelogue great. Especially the pics from the library adds a nice touch.
- Thanks @laluks. True, the library pics from 1898 are quite fascinating. As an afterthought, I realized that I should have probably taken some photos from the same angle / spot as the B&W pics, it would have been a nice comparision to see how things have changed across 100+ years...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cvvikram View Post
Thanks for Very detailed pics of the historical places. This makes the travelogue a very interesting read.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Hotstuff does it again. Great going man. Love your detailed reports. It'll be big help if someone wanna make trip to these relatively unknown places.
- Thanks @cvvikram & @kaushik_s, I appreciate your patience in going through the write-up and your kind comments on the same.
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