Montage of Gandikota clockwise from top to cottom: Gandikota Fort Main Entrance, Grand Penna River Canyon, AP Tourism Resort, Jumma Masjid
|Founded by||Pemmasani Timma Naidu|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
The fort of Gandikota acquired its name due to the 'gorge' (in Telugu it is called 'gandi'), formed between the Erramala range of hills, also known as Gandikota hills and the river Pennar that flows at its foot, reducing its width to a mere 300 ft (see the river image below). Situated amidst beautiful landscape and wild forests, it is endowed with vast natural resources.
Gandikota area was first identified and made Sand fort in 1123 by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village and a subordinate of Ahavamalla Someswara I, the Western Chalukyan king of Kalyana.
Surrounded by a deep valley and impassable hills & with massive boulders of red granite and the river Pennar that flows about 300 ft. below on the west and northern sides, its location affords strong natural defence to the occupants of the Fort. The exploits of Pemmasani Naidus, Gothram : Musunulla, Rulers of Gandikota and Commanders in Vijayanagar army to protect the honour of Telugu land are well known.
Efforts are being put forth to give Gandikota a world heritage status.
Gandikota and Pemmasani kings
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Gandikota was one of the greatest forts of south India in its heydays and so were the kings who ruled the region. Years after its formation, Gandikota fort was ruled by the Mikkilineni dynasty.
In the year 1350 A.D. the Mikkilineni King Rama Naidu, who did not have sons, got his only daughter married to Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu. Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the son of Rama Naidu's brother-in-law and was the king of Bellamkonda in Guntur District. Rama Naidu then made Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu as the ruler of Gandikota. Since then Gandikota was ruled by the Pemmasani rulers.
Gandikota now came into the hands of the Pemmasani rulers from the ancient Mikkilineni royal family. Raja Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the first king of Pemmasani clan and during his period, few developmental activities took place. The original fort was strengthened and the new forts at Jammala Madugu, Vajrakarur, Kamalapuram, Tadipatri, etc. were built. The forts built by Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu were more lavish and striking that he was said to be contemporary form of the Vijayanagar king Bukkaraya. (i.e., around 1350 A.D.). Another member from the Naidu family, Dharma Naidu was the General of Proudha Deva Raya (or Devaraya II), the son of Vijaya Bukkaraya. Another Thimma Naidu defeated the Bahamani sultan Ahmed Shah in the battle of Kalubarige in 1420 A.D. There was yet another Thimma Naidu, during the times of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, who was a great warrior. He was well-versed in capturing the forts of Udayagiri, Addanki, Kondapalli, Rajahmundry, and Cuttak.
Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu who was appointed by Krishna Deva Raya as the supreme commander of the Vijayanagar army was the hero of the famous Battle of Raichur. During this battle Ramalinga Naidu almost massacred the armies of Bahmani sultans were had to retire from the battle. Ramalinga Naidu was said to be a very good-looking person and many poets of his era wrote poems in praise of him. Ramalinga Naidu was the man behind the construction of the famous Ramalingeswara temple in Tadipatri.
Next Naidu in the line was Bangaru Thimma Naidu who gave shelter to Aliya Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishna Deva Raya. Salakam Thimmayya dethroned Aliya Rama Raya and declared himself as the king with the help of the sultans. Bangaru Thimma Naidu defeated the combined armies of the Bahamanis and Salakam Thimmayya. Bangaru Thimma Naidu made Aliya Rama Raya as the king and gave him back the Vijayanagar throne. Thus, another valorous hero of Naidu clan became a folk hero and was entitled as 'Bangaru Thimma Raju'.
After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire, the capital was shifted to Penukonda and Chandragiri was made the second capital. This second capital was constructed by Sri Ranga Raya with the support and guidance of Raja Bojja Thimma Naidu.
Raja Pemmasani Chinna Thimma Naidu was the last king of Gandikota. He was titled as "Vetaru Tuniyala Meti Vaziru" in which "vetu" means the stroke of the sword, "aru tuniyalu" is six pieces. It is said that Chinna Thimma Naidu was so powerful that in the battle he could cut off a horseman's head along with that of the horse with a single stroke of his sword, hence the title. After being ruled gloriously for centuries and despite holding on valiantly for many months, the fort went into the hands of Muslim Turkic invaders from Golconda in the 17th century. The Golconda armies attacked Gandikota around 1650 A.D., under the command of Mir Jumla. Mir Jumla failed to take the fort even after months of seize. Finally, with the advice of Podili Linganna, a minister of Naidu's kingdom, Mir Jumla got Thimma Naidu poisoned and killed him.
Years later, sometime in 18th century, the Marathas became the prime power in India, including the deccan region of Rayalaseema and Telangana. This made the people create stories like "Bala Nagamma Katha" that relieved them to a certain extent. The story was about Bala Nagamma, the princess of Gandikota who married the prince of Panagallu in Nalgonda. Bala Nagamma being kidnapped by a wicked Maratha 'mantrik', the hardships she suffered in his hands for many years, and finally a happy ending to the story by the Maratha getting killed by Bala Nagamma's son, was the content of the story.
A century later, this fort was conquered by Hyder Ali of Mysore and eventually went into the hands of the British.
In the fort are two ancient temples, dedicated to Madhava and Ranganatha. They are in ruins and the fort area is full of the debris of ages and many ancient structures in varying stages of decay. The large granary, with a vaulted roof, is now used as watchman's quarters. The Jamia Masjid has two adjacent minarets. A heritage festival is held every year in the fort area.
The other structures in the fort, include another large granary, a magazine, a graceful 'pigeon tower' with fretted windows and an extensive palace built by bricks with some plastered decorations and some wells. There is an old cannon lying in the fort. There is the 'Rayalacheruvu' with its perennial springs irrigating some lime and plantain gardens. It is said that this 'Cheruvu' was connected to a fountain in Jamia Masjid by pipes, traces of which can still be seen.
There were other gardens and springs. There is an undated inscription on a boulder, near the 'Nagajhari' outside the fort, recording the gift of two gardens at the place to the temple. There was a garden called 'Parebagh' with a waterfall at the foot of the hills, on the bank of the Penneru.
Access and transportation
The nearest railway station is 26 km away at Muddanuru (railway code: MOO) in Kadapa District. There are number of trains from Gooty Junction.
The nearest town is Jammalamadugu. There are buses available from Jammalamadugu Old Bus Stand (Gandhi Statue Junction) to Gandikota.
Inside the fort there is no means of transportation except to walk by foot. It is ideal to engage a guide as the fort area is huge. There is a good downhill trek through the canyon that leads to the riverbed. There is a dam upstream (Gandikota Dam) and a dam downstream (Mylavaram Dam).
In November 2015, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, cited a plan to develop Gandikota as next major tourist hub of Andhra Pradesh.
- Reporter, Staff. "Stone from Gandikota fort to be used". The Hindu. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
- W. Francis, Gazetteer of South India, Vol. 2; Mittal Publications, New Delhi, 1988, p. 394
- Sewell, Robert. "A Forgotten Empire (Vijayanagar): A contribution to the History of India".
- "K. A. Nilakanta sastry: Further Sources of Vijayanagar History". 1946.
- Stein, Burton (1989). Vijayanagara. Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-521-26693-9.
- "Tidings of the king: a translation and ethnohistorical analysis of the Rayavachakamu by Phillip B. Wagoner". Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1993. pp. 138–139. ISBN 0-8248-1495-9.
- "Heritage status for Gandikota fort sought". The Hindu. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Gandikota Heritage festival from October 26". The Hindu. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- Article about this visiting Gandikota: Grand Canyon at Gandikota, Deccan Chronicle newspaper (Hyderabad edition), 6 April 2012, Wanderlust Page: 21
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