vellore-fort

Vellore Fort is a large 16th-century fort situated in heart of the Vellore city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India built by Vijayanagara kings. The fort was at one time the headquarters of the Aravidu Dynasty of the Vijayanagara Empire. The fort is known for its grand ramparts, wide moat and robust masonry.

The fort’s ownership passed from Vijayanagara kings, to the Bijapur sultans, to the Marathas, to the Carnatic Nawabs and finally to the British, who held the fort until India gained independence. The Indian government maintains the fort with the Archaeological Department. During British rule, the Tipu Sultan’s family and the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha were held as prisoners in the fort. The fort houses the Jalakanteswarar Hindu temple, the Christian St. John’s Church and a Muslim mosque, of which the Jalakanteswarar Temple is famous for its magnificent carvings. The first significant military rebellion against British rule erupted at this fort in 1806, and it is also a witness to the massacre of the Vijayanagara royal family of Sriranga Raya.

It is mentioned that “there is no such fort on the face of earth like the one in Vellore. It had a deep wet ditch (moat) where once 10,000 crocodiles swarmed, waiting to grab every intruder into this impregnable fort. It has huge double walls with bastions projecting irregularly, where two carts can be driven abreast”.The fort was constructed in granite from the nearby quarries in Arcot and Chittor districts. It spreads over an area of 133 acres (0.54 km2) and is located at an altitude of 220 m (720 ft) within a broken mountain range. The fort is surrounded by a moat which was once used as an additional line of defence in the case of an invasion. It includes an escape tunnel leading to Virinjipuram about 12 km (7.5 mi) away, which could be used by the king and other royals in the event of an attack, later disputed by researchers of the ASI who found no evidence of existence of such passage. The fort is considered to be among the best of military architecture in Southern India and is known for its grand ramparts, wide moat and robust masonry.

The mosque inside the fort was constructed during the last Arcot Nawab’s period. Presently, Muslims are not allowed to pray inside the fort mosque despite protest by several thousand people living in Vellore. Vellore’s inhabitants believe that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is being discriminatory by excluding Muslims from the mosque while Hindus and Christians are not stopped from entering temple and church respectively.However, some refute the claims of the Muslims, as in the late 1980s, Muslims including the late Abdul Samad had given a commitment that the Muslims did not want to worship inside the fort structure, in support of re-opening of the Jalagandeeswarar Temple. The local jamaath leadership was also against this move, and blamed fringe political organisations of whipping up communal dis-harmony.The church inside the fort was constructed during the early British period . Muthu Mandapam is a memorial built around the tombstone of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of Sri Lanka.

The fort is situated in the centre of Vellore town opposite to the Old Bus stand. Vellore is on the Chennai-Bangalore highway and is 120 km (75 mi) from Chennai and 210 km (130 mi) from Bangalore. The nearest rail station is Vellore-Katpadi Junction, where all super fast trains stop. The nearest airports are Tirupati Airport, Chennai International Airport and Bengaluru International Airport. In 1981 the Post and Telegraph Department of India released a stamp commemorating the fort, and in July 2006 a stamp marking the 200th anniversary of the Mutiny was released by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.This 13th-century fort was opened up to tourists and is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Government Museum is a multi-purpose museum maintained by the Department of Museum Government of Tamil Nadu. Its treasures include ancient- and present-day curiosities relating to subjects such as anthropology, botany, geology, numismatics, pre-history, and zoology. Historical monuments of the erstwhile composite North Arcot district are gracefully depicted in the gallery.