Sunday early morning we left for Pondy in a rented (self drive) ford Fiesta. I had a meeting at 4pm and we we’d planned to return by 2.30-3pm. We explored Paradise island and were having breakfast back in Pondy city. Next on agenda was Alamparai fort. I got an SMS indicating that my meeting is postponed. This meant I needn’t return to Chennai by afternoon and we’ll have about half a day extra. Initially we proceeded with the plan, but suddenly the name Gingee fort, about which I’d read earlier and had thought of visiting, came to my mind. I told Partho-अरे ऑ पार्तॉ, पता लगाओ, ए गिन्जी किला कहा पे आता है। (Find out where is Gingee fort). I’d a feeling that it is somewhere south of Chennai but had no further details.
Partho took out his GPS mobile phone (HTC touch), first googled for exact name of the place, then found it on Google maps. He told me its about 65 kms from our current location (ECR, Pondy). Next I asked him to find out which will be shorter from where we are: Option 1: Go to Alamparai fort, then go to Gingee and then return to Chennai or Option 2: Go to Gingee first, then go to Alamparai and return to Chennai. His assessment revealed that option 2 is better. Additional find out that Gingee fort closes by 5pm while Alamparai has no such limits made us head towards Gingee. He locked the destination and found shortest route, including a turn that will connect us to NH 66 from ECR. We took a small detour to visit Auroville and another one for fuel and headed straight towards Gingee. Road was fairly good. At places 4 lane construction was going on. Traffic was negligible and we cruised easily.
We reached Tindivanam and with another 30 minutes drive reached Gingee. History about Gingee. History of Gingee is readily available at Wikipedia, so let me skip it. Gingee is a complex of forts, but major ones are Rajagiri and Krishnagiri and minor ones are Chakkiliya Durg and Chandrayan Durg.
We checked out only Krishnagiri and Chakkiliya durg and had to miss Rajagiri due to multiple reasons. Climbing on top of Krishnagiri was a good exercise-I didn’t count the steps, but my rough estimate is that they are between 200-300 in number. Entree fee is Rs 5. You’ll find multiple mini entrances (where one can rest for a while) and watch towers (or places where there was a watchtower) on the way. View from top was nice. This fort has a Krishna temple, a Kalyana Mantapa, a Ranganatha temple (refer second image for these 3), a darbar hall, a well and 2 warehouses (granaries). There’s no idol in temples and a good number of goats were gazing around.Buildings that have braved nature for centuries are struggling to cope up with human graffiti.
We came down, drove to nearby Chakkiliya Durg and then decided to return. This unplanned visit was a good exploration, but I feel Gingee deserves another detailed visit.
Gingee site is covered by ASI, but appears to be managed by an old man and his family.
How to go there? from Chennai: Chennai-Tindivanam (NH45)-Gingee (some 150kms) or take NH66 from Pondy (65kms). While returning we took SH134 to connect to ECR. All roads are good.
How much time to spend there? We took about 1.5-2 hours (I'd earlier mentioned it wrongly as 3 as I missed to account the time spent at Auroville) for a casual climb up, exploration and return. Rajagiri would take another 2 hours. So half a day to full day depending on your convenience. Gingee could be added to your itinerary if you're planning a Chennai-Pondy trip.