17th February 1698 Aurangzeb Fell For Jinjee Fort After Eight Years Of Maratha Siege In Tamil Nadu

History of the fort
The Gingee country then came under the rule of the Hoysalas in the later part of the 13th and in the first half of the 14th century. From the Hoysalas it passed on, by relatively easy efforts, into the hands of the first rulers of Vijayanagar. The Vijayanagar dominion gradually expanded over South India and and divided the administration into three important provinces, which were under the control of Nayaks. These were the Nayaks of Madura, Tanjore and Gingee. Information about the Gingee Nayaks and their rule is very scanty. It is said that the Tubaki Krishnappa Nayaka (1490 to1521) was the founder of the Nayak line of Gingee kings. He seems to have ruled gloriously all over the coast from Nellore down to the Coleroon up to 1521 A.D. Under the Nayaks the Forts were strengthened and the town was greatly enlarged.

The last Nayak of Gingee was forced to surrender to the Bijapur army towards the end of December 1649 A.D. The booty acquired by the Mohammedan rulers of Bijapur was 20 crores of rupees in cash and jewels. Gingee assumed a new and enhanced strategic importance under the Bijapur governors. Bijapur was in possession of the fortress of Gingee till 1677 A.D., when the famous Sivaji, the son of Shaji fell upon it in his momentous Carnatic expedition. The Marathas greatly strengthened and fortified its defences.

The Mughals were then able to capture the fort of Gingee in the Carnatic from Ramaraja the King of the Marathas, early in 1698, after a protracted and weak siege of seven years. Zulfikar Khan, the son of Asad Khan, the Grand Vizir in the court of Aurangazeb, was in command of the siege operation of Gingee and of its governor till he left the Carnatic after about a year from its fall.

After that Aurangazeb, granted a mansab of 2,500 rank and jagir of 12 lakhs to Sawrup Singh, a Bundela Chieftain, along with the killedari of Gingee in 1700 A.D. Raja Sawrup Singh died of old age in 1714 A.D. His arrears of payments due to the faujdari amounted to 70 lakhs, being a defaulter for ten years. The Nawab of Arcot reported this matter to the Badshah (Mughal Emperor) at Delhi. Hearing about the death of his father, Desingh, the son of Raja Sarup Singh, started for Gingee from Bundelkhand, his ancestral home.

On arriving at Gingee, Desingh assumed the government of Gingee after performing the last rites of his father. Aurangazeb had granted a firman to his father and Desingh took formal possession of his father’s jaghir on ground of his hereditary right. Desingh did not receive a warm welcome from the Mughal officers. The Nawab of Arcot, Sadatullah Khan, who attempted to dispossess Desingh, pleaded that the firman was not valid. When Payya Ramakrishna, who was his secretary, informed him of the legal necessity of getting the firman renewed by the new Emperor before assuming the jaghir, Desingh replied that he had got the firman of Aurangazeb and that he need not apply to anybody else.

In fact after regaining the fort from Marathas, Aurangzeb had first appointed Nawab Daud Khan as the deputy subhadar of the Deccan. Nawab Daud Khan removed his headquarters from Gingee to the town of Arcot, as he believed that the place was not healthy. This diminished the importance of Gingee. While shifting his headquarters, Daud Khan appointed Sadatullah Khan as his Diwan and Faujdar in 1708. Sadatullah Khan later became the Nawab of the two Carnatics in 1713, under Nizam-Ul-Mulk. He was the regular and acknowledged Nawab of the Carnatic between the years 1710 and 1732 A.D. After the death of Raja Sawrup Singh he renewed the demand for the arrears of revenue with his son Raja Desingh. This lead to a battle between the two, which unfortunately ended in the death of the young and valiant Rajput, Desingh on 3rd October 1714.

The gallantry displayed by Desingh at the young age of 22, against the powerful Nawab Sadatulla Khan of Arcot in a struggle that was hopeless from the outset (Desingh’s army consisted of only 350 horses and 500 troopers, while the Nawab’s army had 8,000 horsemen and 10,000 sepoys) has made us remember him forever. The ballets are sung in and around Gingee till date about his bravery. However, the fortress of Gingee lost its pre-eminent position and political importance within a few years of the extinction of the Rajput rule.

Subsequently, the two European rival powers in India, the English and the French, got themselves involved in the internal quarrels and fights and the French won for themselves the Gingee fortress on the 11th Sept., 1750, under the initiative of Bussy. They took good care to secure the fort by a strong garrison, which was well supported with artillery and ammunition.

Gingee remained firmly in French possession until after the fall of Pondicherry to Sir Eyre Coote in January 1761. The English commander was Captain Stephen Smith. With the fall of Gingee the French lost their last possession in the Carnatic.

Gingee regained its political importance, for the last time in its fateful history, in 1780 A.D, when Haidar Ali, helped by some able French Officers, invaded Carnatic with a force of 90,000 men. Haidar’s men appeared before the fortress and easily carried it by their assault in November 1780. The English re-conquered it at the close of the second Mysore war from Tippu Sultan in 1799. After that Gingee had been free from the ravages and anarchy of war, but subject to desolation and decay. During the frequent Indo-French Wars, the British resident wanted the Fort and The Fortification to be demolished. Luckily his suggestion was not accepted and the Fort remains for us to experience and relive the history.

Gingee Fort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gingee Fort
Part of Tamil Nadu
Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu, India
Gingee Fort panorama.jpg

A panorama of the Gingee fort with the Kalyana Mahal visible just right of centre
Gingee Fort is located in Tamil Nadu

Gingee Fort
Gingee Fort
Coordinates (12.2639°N 79.0444°E) [1]
Type Forts
Site information
Controlled by Archaelogical Survey Of India
Condition Ruins
Site history
Built 9th century and 13th century
Built by Initially Ananda Konar , and laterChola Dynasty, Vijayanagara Empire
Materials Granite Stones and lime mortar
Events National Monument (1921)

View of Gingee Fort(Queens) from the ground

Gingee Fort or Senji Fort (also known as Chenji, Jinji or Senchi) inTamil Nadu, India is one of the surviving forts in Tamil Nadu, India. It lies in Villupuram District, 160 kilometres (99 mi) from the state capital, Chennai, and is close to the Union Territory of Puducherry. The fort is so fortified, that Shivaji, the Maratha king, ranked it as the “most impregnable fortress in India” and it was called the “Troy of the East” by the British. The nearest town with a railway station isTindivanam and the nearest airport is Chennai (Madras), located 150 kilometres (93 mi) away.

Originally the site of a small fort built by the Chola dynasty during the 9th century AD, Gingee Fort was modified by Kurumbar during the 13th century. As per one account, the fort was built duirng the 15–16th century by the Nayaks, the lietunants of the Vijayanagara Empire and who later became independent kings. The fort passed to the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji in 1677 AD, Bijapur sultans, the Moghuls, Carnatic Nawabs, French and the British in 1761. The fort is closely associated with Raja Tej Singh, who unsuccessfully revolted against the Nawab of Arcot and eventually lost his life in a battle.

The Gingee Fort complex is on three hillocks: Krishnagiri to the north, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. The three hills together constitute a fort complex, each having a separate and self-contained citadel. The fort walls are 13 km (8.1 mi) and the three hills are connected by walls enclosing an area of 11 square kilometres (4.2 sq mi).[1] It was built at a height of 800 feet (240 m) and protected by a 80 feet (24 m) wide moat. The complex has a seven-storeyed Kalyana Mahal (marriage hall), granaries,prison cells, and a temple dedicated to its presiding Hindu goddesscalled Chenjiamman. The fortifications contain a sacred pond known as Aanaikulam. On the top of the hillock, there are minor fortifications.[1] The fort, in modern times, is maintained and administered by the Archaeological Survey of India. The fort is one of the prominent tourist destinations in Villupuram district.

Legend and etymology[edit]

Throne on the Krishnagiri

The Bijapur Nawabs who held the fort from about 1660 to 1677 AD called it Badshabad, while the Marathas who succeeded them called it Chandry or Chindy. The Mughals, on their capture of the fort in 1698 A.D., named it Nusratgadh in honour of Nawab Zulfiqar Khan Nusrat-Jang, the commander-in-chief of the besieging army. Later, the English and the French called it Gingee or Jinji. The early Madras records of the English give the spelling Chingee or Chengey.[1][2][3]

As per Tamil legend, the tragic tale of Raja Tej Singh, popularly known in Tamil asThesingu Raasan, is associated with the fort. The true life story of Tej Singh and his general, Mehboob Khan (aka Maavuthukaran), who were friends, has inspired many poems, street plays, and countless other stories. He was the son of Swarup Singh and revolted against the Nawab of Arcot, and was defeated and killed in the war that followed. Though Gingee became a part of the Nawab’s territory in 1714, the young and courageous Tej Singh became a legend and his life, love and brave but tragic end were eulogised in various ballads.

History[edit]

Tomb pillar at lower fort

The main source for the first two hundred years of the history of the place is the “Complete History of the Carnatic Kings” among the Mackenzie manuscripts. According to historian Narayan, a small village called Melacerri, located 3 mi (4.8 km) away from Gingee is called “Old Gingee” has traces of fortifications from about 1200 AD.[4] Ananda Kon of the shepherd community (Konar), accidentally found a treasure in one of the cavities of the Western hill while grazing his sheep. Making himself the head of a small band of warriors, he defeated the petty rulers of the neighbouring villages and built a small fortress on Kamalagiri, which he renamed Anandagiri after himself. The Konar dynasty ruled Gingee from 1190 to 1330 AD, and was succeeded by the chief of a neighbouring place called Kobilingan, who belonged to the Kurumba caste and ascended the throne of Gingee. He was a feudatory of the powerful Cholas. Gingee came into the hands of various ruling dynasties of South India, starting from the Cholas.[5]

Originally the site of a small fort built by the Chola dynasty during the 9th century AD, Gingee Fort was modified byKurumbar while fighting the Cholas and again by the Vijayanagar empire during the 13th century. As per one account, the fort was built duirng the 15–16th century by the Gingee Nayaks, the lietunants of the Vijayanagara Empire and who later became independent kings.[6] The fort was built at a strategic place to fend off any invading armies. It was further strengthened by the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji in 1677 AD. He recaptured it from the Bijapur sultans who had originally taken control of the fort from the Marathas. During Aurangzeb‘s campaign in the Deccan, Shivaji’s second son who had assumed the throne, Chhatrapati Rajaram, escaped to Ginjee and continued the fight with Moghuls from Ginjee. The fort was the seat of the Maratha Empire for a few months.[1] The Moghuls could not capture the fort for seven years in spite of laying siege. The fort was finally captured in 1698, but not before Chhatrapati Rajaram escaped. It was later passed on to the Carnatic Nawabs who lost it to the French in 1750 before the British finally took control in 1761 despite losing it to Hyder Ali for a brief period. Raja Desinghu ruled Chenji during the 18th century.[2][7]

Architecture[edit]

Kalyana Mahal at Gingee fort

The Gingee Fort complex is on three hillocks: Krishnagiri to the north, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. The three hills together constitute a fort complex, yet each hill contains a separate and self-contained citadel. Connecting them — forming an enormous triangle, a mile from north to south, punctuated by bastions and gateways giving access to the protected zones at the heart of the complex. The fort walls are 13 km (8.1 mi) and the three hills are connected by walls enclosing an area of 11 square kilometres (4.2 sq mi).[1] It was built at a height of 800 feet (240 m) and protected by a 80 feet (24 m) wide moat. It has a seven-storeyed Kalyana Mahal (marriage hall), granaries, prison cells, and a temple dedicated to its presiding Hindu goddess called Chenjiamman. The fortifications contain a sacred pondknown as Aanaikulam. The walls of the fort are a mixture of the natural hilly terrain comprising the Krishnagiri, Chakkilidrug and Rajagiri hills, while the gaps were sealed with the main wall that measures 20 metres (66 ft) in thickness.[6] On the top of the hillock, there are minor fortifications.[1]

Rajagiri[edit]

View from Queen’s Fort Top – Gingee Town

The first hill, where the main fort is, is called Rajagiri. Originally it was known as Kamalagiri as well as Anandagiri. The fort was historically considered most impregnable. It is about 800 feet (240 m) in height. Its summit is cut off from communication and is surrounded by a deep, natural chasm that is about 10 yards (9.1 m) wide and 20 yards (18 m) deep. To gain entry into the citadel one had to cross the chasm with the help of a small wooden draw bridge. The naturally strong rock where the fortress is located, is further strengthened by the construction ofembrasure walls and gateways along all possible shelves and precipitous edges. The citadel is reached by traversing through seven gates. This citadel contains important buildings apart from the living quarters of the royalty, like the stables, granaries, and meeting halls for the public, temples, mosques, shrines and pavilions. Kamalakanni Amman temple is present atop the Rajagiri hills. As per Hindu legend, the presiding deity, Kamalakanni, is believed to be the widow of demon king Acalamaccuran. Draupadi, a Hindu goddess, beheaded the hundred heads of the demon and Kamalakanni is believed to have protests that she would become a widow. Draupadi explains her similarities that she has no sexual relations, though married. This resulted in the ambiguous kanni suffix.[8] Ranganathar Temple, bell tower, watch tower, cannon and draw bridge are located atop the hill.

The lower fort consists of Arcot Gate, Pondicherry Gate, which was probably improved by the French during their occupation (1751–1761), the Prison on top of Pondicherry Gate, Royal Battery, Venkataramanaswami Temple, Pattabhi Ramaswami Temple, Sadatulla Khan’s mosque, Chettikulam and Chakrakulam tanks, platform where Raja Desing was killed in a war, large stone image of Hanuman, prisoner’s well where the prisoners condemned to death were thrown and left to die of starvation. The inner fort consists of Kalyana Mahal, the royal stables, the ruined royal palace, Anaikulam tank, granaries, magazine and the shrine of Venugopalaswami. There is a site museum at the entrance of the fort set up by the Archeological Survey of India containing sculptures pertaining to periods and many dynasties that ruled Gingee. There are also guns and cannonballs made of stone, strewn about the fort.[1]

Krishnagiri[edit]

The second important hillock with an imposing citadel is known as Krishnagiri. It is also known as the English Mountain, perhaps because the British residents occupied the fort here, for some time. The Krishnagiri fort lies to the North ofTiruvannamalai road. It is smaller in size and height compared to the Rajagiri fort. A flight of steps of granite stones leads to its top. Another fort connected with Rajagiri with a low rocky ridge is called Chandrayan Durg, Chandragiri or St. George’s Mountain. The military and strategic value of this fort has been relatively less, but it has some interesting buildings of later period.

Chakkiliya Durg[edit]

The third fort for some reason is called Chakkiliya Durg or Chamar Tikri — meaning the fort of the cobblers. It is not known why it had acquired the name. Probably the royal saddlers and military shoemakers had set up their workshops here, as Gingee obviously was a military encampment. There is a smaller and less important fourth hill, the summit of which is also well fortified. There is nothing much left of Chandrayan Durg and Chakkilli Durg. Their flanks are now completely covered with thorny shrubs and stone pieces.[1]

Culture[edit]

After the fort passed into British hands, it did not see any further action. The fort at Gingee was declared a National Monument in 1921 and was under the Archeological Department. The Tourism Department of India has tried to popularise this remote and oft-forgotten fort. Gingee today, with its ruined forts, temples and granaries, presents a different picture from the glorious splendor of its bygone days. But the remains of that glorious past speak volumes about the numerous invasions, warfare and bravery that it witnessed. The fort is maintained by the Archeological Department. An entry charge of INR5 is charged for Indian citizens and SAARC countries and US$2 or INR100 for all monuments inside Krishnagiri and Rajagiri forts.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i “Rajagiri Fort and Krishnagiri Fort, Gingee”. Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b “Tourist Places in Villupuram district”. Villupuram District Administration. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  3. Jump up^ Hiltebeitel 1991, p. 19
  4. Jump up^ Hiltebeitel 1991, p. 4
  5. Jump up^ Hiltebeitel 1991, p. 17
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b Manchanda, p. 149
  7. Jump up^ Sivadas, Sanjay (15 April 2013). “Where eagles dare”. The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  8. Jump up^ Hiltebeitel 1991, p. 214

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • C. S. Srinivasachari, M. A., Professor of History, Annamalai University, History Of Gingee And Its Rulers (The University, 1943), ASIN: B0007JBT3G
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