Tuesday, June 05, 2018
Vellore is often referred to as the Fort City owing to its rich history dating back to as early as the 16th century. Vellore is a window to the Dravidian culture and architecture. The Pallava, Rashtrakuta, and Chola dynasties along with the Vijayanagara and Carnatic empires have left a huge and indelible mark on the city. Amongst all the attractions situated in Vellore, the Vellore Fort, the array of temples, and the museums hold a special place in the hearts of the visitors. If you are planning a trip to Vellore, the following places should feature highly on your ‘must-visit’ list.
The Vellore Fort was constructed by Bommi and Thimma Reddy at the peak of Krishnadevaraya’s rule over Vijayanagara. It is also the site of the first rebellion against the British colonial empire. The mutiny took place in 1806 due to the displeasure of the Indian soldiers on being made to wear a hat that offended their religion and beliefs. The British were quick to suppress the mutiny and regain control of the fort, thus, averting a major revolt. Despite not garnering the fame as the 1857 mutiny, the fortress continues to infuse the spirit of being invincible even to this date.
The granite fort is surrounded by a deep and wide moat, which is said to have housed nearly 10,000 crocodiles! Inside the humungous structure, one can find a temple, a mosque, and a church, a symbol of the secular essence of India. The oldest amongst these religious sites, the Jalakandeswarar temple was also constructed in the 16th century, a little after the time when the fort was built. The beauty and expertise of the Dravidian architecture is a treat to behold while visiting the Vellore Fort.
Located on three tiny hills, the Gingee fort, locally known as Rani Kottai, extends to Rajagiri in the West, Krishnagiri in the North, and Chandrayandurg in the South-East. Each portion of the fort is composed of a self-contained, self-sufficient citadel. While it was constructed to fend off enemies (interestingly, it is known as the ‘undefeatable fort of India’), the complexes present inside the fort contained marriage halls that were seven storeyed high! The Anaikulam was a pond considered sacred, while prayers were offered to Chenjiamman in the Hindu temple. The fort has passed many hands and had been occupied by the Bijapur Sultans, Carnatic Nawabs, Marathas, Mughals, and French. In 1921, under the British siege, the Gingee fort was declared as a National Monument. Visiting the Gingee or Senji fort can comfortably take up one whole day.
The ASI Museum is located right next to the Vellore Fort. It hosts stone artefacts and sculptures that date back to the 8th century when the Cholas and the Pallavas reigned over the area. The museum also contains information related to the Vellore Mutiny. It is a must-visit for those who wish to explore the rich cultural history of Vellore. The archaeological findings are a delight for those keen on learning about the history, especially if you wish to witness stones and stone carvings.
The Government Museum or the State Museum is located opposite the ASI Museum. If you bear any interest towards the pre-historic era, this museum has much to offer you. It contains a vast range of sculptures, weapons, wood carvings, art, and other objects of history and archaeology. Numismatic and philately enthusiasts are in for a treat as the museum maintains a variety of rare objects and discoveries.
After a tiresome day of travelling back in time, you deserve rest that is fitting for the kings. Check in at the Fortune Park, a part of the Fortune Hotel Chain, and get treated like the royalty. The hotel, which is fully equipped with the latest amenities and comforts, will relax you as you relive the memory of your Vellore visit.