Wednesday, 3 August 2016

SANKAGIRI FORT A HERITAGE WALK – FORT WALL ENTRANCES - PART 2

03rd July, 2016.
Sankagiri was earlier known as Kunrathur as per the inscriptions available. Since the hill is in the form of conch, the hill is called as Sankagiri adding the Sanskrit name of ‘giri’ means hill. Sankagiri was once a capital for the Kongu Region comprises of the present  districts of Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri,  Namakkal, Karur and Dindukal.

Sankagiri Fort was built in 14th  century by the  Madurai Nayaks and latter expanded. ( As per the historian Mr Karunaharan the fort was constructed from Chozhas and expanded by Hoysalas,  Pandyas, Vijayanagara kings, Madurai Nayaks, Mysore Udayars, Mysore Thalavais and Britishers.)  Even though the 6,7 & 8th walls are constructed by Mysore Kings, it was believed that the hill top temples, mandapas and ponds existed more than 800 to 900 years before. It has 11 fort walls built  around a hill and the last phase these walls were built by the British. The fort served as a British tax storage facility for  Kongu Nadu.   

It was an important military base for  Tippu Sultan and later for the British army. This is because only one side of the hill is climbable, as all the others are too steep to climb. This has a death well, granary, two oil godowns, one explosives godown, two masjiths,  2 Perumal ( Varadharaja Perumal and Top Hill Chenna Kesava Perumal ) temples, former British Army administrative buildings, and cemeteries formerly used by armies that were stationed at the fort. The Varadharaja Temple is alone  renovated  and used for worshiping. The rest of the buildings are in dilapidated condition.

As per historians, punishments and death sentence are carried out in a cruel manner which are beyond imagination. Dheeran Chinnamalai, who was against the tax collection and looted the tax carrying vehicles and distributed to the poor. He was hanged on the top of the hill on 31st July 1805. In some cases the prisoners were rolled from top of the hill with hands and legs tied.  For some the prisoners skin was removed and thrown to vulture and eagles. 
LOCATION OF THE FORT :CLICK HERE  
Now let us peep in to the fort through various gates. The gates are located almost on the passage of rain water from the top and the steps leading to each gates.
1. FIRST FORT ENTRANCE  - PULIMUKA VASAL or ULIMUKA VASAL
This is also called as ulimuka vassal. Entrance will not be visible when you see from straight and shaped as inverted’ and the entrance on the right side corner. This is for avoiding the direct hitting of the doors by enemies. A demon’s relief is above the entrance. 




2. SECOND FORT ENTRANCE – KALKOTTAI VASAL or KALLA VASAL
There is a small entrance by the left side of main entrance like a wicket gate. A mandapam is after the entrance. The mandapam pillars with reliefs of Hanuman, Rama and Seetha sitting on the laps of Rama, Arjunan’s thabas to get pasupatha asthiram, Bairavar, Shiva in the form of hunter, war between Shiva & Arjuna and a Prince who constructed the mandapam.





3. THIRD FORT ENTRANCE – KADIKARA VASAL
There is also mandapam immediately after the entrance. The mandapam has the relief of Suryan, Chandran,, Raghu, khethu, fish etc., Ganga and Yamuna with flower  rings on the entrance pillars. From this point sun will not be visible during evening hours, and shows the time. This gives warning to the soldiers.


4. FOURTH FORT ENTRANCE – RANA MANDAPA VASAL
The passage is little narrow and at the entrance Sangu chakkaram ( Conch and Chakkra ) with Gods patham reliefs are there.( Both positions are reversed ). The devotees who cannot climb to worship Sri Chennakesava Perumal, they will worship here and return back. There are 21 + 12 ( Right side and left side)  view point built with brick, through which shooting will be done on the enemies through pistols. Before 5th entrance a platform was constructed to place guns.


5. FIFTH FORT ENTRANCE – PUTHUKOTTAI VASAL
A demon’s relief with horn & mustache  and a tortoise  on the right side of the entrance. In the mandapam pillars reliefs of Lion, Kamathenu, Hanuman, Narasimhar.


6. SIXTH FORT ENTRANCE – ROKKA THITTI VASAL
This entrance has a mandapam. There is a Vinayagar relief on the mandapam. There is vertical rock with a pond. The water was used for drinking purposes. This pond is called as Surya pali.



7. SEVENTH FORT ENTRANCE – PAVAL THITTI VASAL.
This has a small mandapam to take rest.



8. EIGHTH FORT ENTRANCE – IDIVIZUNTHAN KUNDRU VASAL.
The original entrance mandapam was destroyed during 1880, and the Britishers constructed a explosive storage godown  with brick and lime mortar.



9. NINTH FORT ENTRANCE – COMPANY GATE
This was built by the east India English people during 1799.  This was constructed to  celebrate the victory against Tippu sultan. The doors were removed now but the fixed portion of the keel exists. The once constructed hoses for Kaja ravuthar was destroyed.



10. TENTH FORT ENTRANCE – MYSORE or UDAYAR VASAL.
The  steps leading to this gate was chiseled on the rock. Only 37 steps out of 60 remains now, the rest were hidden by the boulders. The mandapam has the relief of Bootha ganas, Suryan, Chandran and the story of Gajendra moksham.  This gate might have been constructed by the Mysore kings.  




 ---OM SHIVAYA NAMA ----
To be continued – PART – 3 TEMPLES 

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