Kondapalli Fort

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kondapalli Fort
Part of Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh
Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India
Vijayawada-Kondapalli Quilla.jpg
Palace view at Kondapalli Kota or Fort
Fourcourt.JPG
Forecourt of the fort
Kondapalli Fort is located in Andhra Pradesh
Kondapalli Fort
Kondapalli Fort
Coordinates16°37′31″N 80°31′50″E / 16.625283°N 80.530667°E / 16.625283; 80.530667Coordinates: 16°37′31″N 80°31′50″E / 16.625283°N 80.530667°E / 16.625283; 80.530667
TypeFort
Site information
Controlled byGovernment of Andhra Pradesh
ConditionReconstructed
Site history
Built14th century
Built byReddy Kings (Reddy dynasty)
MaterialsGranite Stones and lime mortar
Battles/warsGajapati Kingdom of Orissa, Qutubshahi dynasty, Vijayanagara Empire, Sultans of Golconda (Nizams) and the British

Kondapalli Fort, also locally known as Kondapalli Kota, is located in the Krishna district, close to Vijayawada, the second largest city of Andhra Pradesh, India.

The Kondapalli Fort is located to the west of Kondapalli in the Krishna District, near Vijayawada. In the 14th century, Prolaya Vema Reddy of Kondavid built this fort as a recreational and business centre. This fort has three successive entry gates, out of which the main entrance gate is called the Dargha Darwaja.

Made out of a single block of granite, this main entrance gate is 3.7 m wide and 4.6 m high. Another entrance gate of the fort is the Golconda Darwaza, which serves as a gateway to the Jaggaiahpet Village.

The major attraction of the fort is the Tanisha Mahal or Palace, which is located on a crest between two hills. Besides, there are several other ruined buildings in the fort. Inside the fort, a deep reservoir is located, which has its source in a spring.

Are you craving to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the quietude of nature and the majesty of old monuments?
Kondapalli Fort is the perfect place for all this and more.
One morning, we set out to find this famed fort, which lies 25 kilometres from Vijayawada. The easiest way to get there, we learn, is to follow National Highway 65. Just as our eyes adjust to the greens of the fields around us – so different from the greys we are used to seeing in the city – we chance upon the giant ramparts, made entirely of granite, of the fort.
Kondapalli Fort, also called Kondapalli Kota or Kondapalli Killa, dates back to the 13th century and boasts of a rich history.
Kondapalli, in Andhra Pradesh, is famous world over for its exquisite wooden toys – each one carefully created by master craftsmen. The fort that lies just a stone’s throw from Kondapalli village.
Built in 1360 AD by Anna Vemareddy after he captured Kondapalli from Mudigonda Chalakyulu, the fort has been home to several dynasties – from the Reddy rulers to the Nizam Nawabs, and then the East India Company.
This fabulous structure has three main gates: the first, Golconda Darwaza, lies near Jaggiahpeta village, the second, a much smaller gate, lies near Kondapalli village, and the third, the main gate, is called Dargah Darwaza.
It lies near Gulam Shah Dargah, and hence the name. Currently, 60-year-old Syed Naseer acts as the caretaker of the dargah – his family has traditionally been the guardians of the tomb.
When we ask him about the large water tanks that sit above the hill, Syed says that they were constructed in such a way that they sourced spring water and rain water to supply the fort.
“They always used to be full, but since 1980, they have remained empty,” he says.
The air on the hill smells different too. When we ask him why, he says, “There are lots of medicinal trees here. The air over here is much healthier.”
Pointer to the past
In 1434, the Gajapatis from Odisha captured the fort from the ruling Reddy dynasty. Just over 80 years later, in 1516, Krishnadevaraya, emperor of the Vijayanagara kingdom, defeated the Gajapatis to make the fort his.
He decided to allow the Gajapatis to keep the fort, but they had to act as his vassals.
In 1550, after a resounding victory, Kondapalli Fort came under the rule of the Qutub Shahis. Kondapalli Killa hosted Qutub ul Mulk Ibrahim Shah – Ibrahimpatnam, closest to the fort, was named after him.
Confluence of styles
We enter through the Dargah Darwaza that leads us straight to the Khanam Fort and the Royal Palace. The architecture here is a curious hybrid of styles – we can see Persian, Bahamani and Mughal influences.
“The fort passed through so many royal dynasties and each one influenced it their own way. Hence, you see so many styles at play here,” says Deepak Joe, Assistant Director of Archaeology and Museums, Vijayawada region.
There are hardly twenty people in the fort that morning. Most people go straight to Rani Mahal, the royal women’s quarters in the palace. Despite its dilapidated state, it is not hard for us to imagine how opulent the structure might have been once. The run-down walls still boast of intricate stone work and the water pools are still the most tranquil part of the palace.
The fort was built to be as secure as possible with several military outposts and garrisons. Even the slightest sound in the royal prison is grossly magnified and echoes around us.
“The fort was built in view of security ... So everything, from the architecture to the material used, was done to ensure the people within the complex were safe. The Golconda Fort too was constructed in a similar fashion,” says Deepak.
The fort underwent extensive changes during the Qutub Shahi’s time. The Royal Prison was built then, as was the Thopkhana (the weapon house). The market place on the other side too was constructed around this time. What little remains of it is enough to tell us of the former glory of the kingdom.
The Gajsala, where the military elephants were housed, the Nartana Sala, where royal patrons were entertained by dancers, and the darbar, where the king met his ministers and other important people in the kingdom, have been maintained in a slightly better condition, and give us a glimpse of what life may have once been like here.
Changing hands
In 1687, the fort fell under the control of Saheb Singh, a Mughal army commander under Aurangzeb, but only for a short while. The Nizams of Hyderabad were soon the new guardians of Kondapalli Killa. What is now called the Royal Palace was built by the Nizams.
Today, workers swarm the palace and the dull thud of stone hitting stone reverberates around us. The State Government is carrying out extensive renovations to promote and conserve the fort.
Finally, in 1766, the British took control of the fort. They ran a military-training school inside until 1859; two years later, the Archaeological Survey of India recognized the fort as a historical monument.
Post Independence, the site was handed over to the state Archaeology and Museums Department.
Peace and quiet
Tourists to the region usually give the fort a miss to see the more popular places, such as the Kanaka Durga temple, Bhavani Island, Undavalli Caves and Hamsaladeevi.
The fact that not a lot of people are present here, the chirp of birds, the foggy hills and the rolling greenery around us gave us the much-needed break we were looking for. However, the place doesn’t promise to remain untouched for long.
In a bid to attract more people to the fort, the State Government is carrying out repairs inside using special imported material.


“The renovations should be completed in the coming year,” a confident sounding Deepak says. “We are sure hordes of tourists will start coming here soon.”.[1][2]

royal prison at kondapalli fort
aerial view of fort

Geography[edit]

The fort is located to the west of Vijayawada city in the main hill range known as Kondapalli in the Krishna district. The hill range, about 24 kilometres (15 mi) in length, extends between Nandigama and Vijayawada. The forest area in this hill range abounds in a type of lightwood known as 'ponuku' పొనుకు కఱ్ఱ (Gyrocapus jacquini), which is used exclusively for the manufacture of the famous Kondpalli toys.[3] The forest vegetation around Kondapalli fort and the nearby hills are also well known for medicinal plants and trees such as Phyllanthus amarus (Telugu local name "nela usiri" నేల ఉసిరిక చెట్టు), Phyllanthus, Andrographis paniculata (local name: "adavi mirapa" అడవి మిరప or "nelavemu" నేలవేము), Thedlapala (Wrightia tinctoria), Tephrosia purpurea, Albizia amara, Streulia urens and Chloroxylon swetenia.[4] The hill range is mainly made up of charnockites, with some pyroxene granulites, granites, khondalites, pyroxenites and dolerites.[5]

History[edit]

[1][6]


The Kondapalli Fort is located to the west of Kondapalli in the Krishna District, near Vijayawada. In the 14th century, Prolaya Vema Reddy of Kondavid built this fort as a recreational and business centre. This fort has three successive entry gates, out of which the main entrance gate is called the Dargha Darwaja.

Made out of a single block of granite, this main entrance gate is 3.7 m wide and 4.6 m high. Another entrance gate of the fort is the Golconda Darwaza, which serves as a gateway to the Jaggaiahpet Village.

The major attraction of the fort is the Tanisha Mahal or Palace, which is located on a crest between two hills. Besides, there are several other ruined buildings in the fort. Inside the fort, a deep reservoir is located, which has its source in a spring.

Are you craving to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the quietude of nature and the majesty of old monuments?

Kondapalli Fort is the perfect place for all this and more.

Hamvira, the son of Gajapati Kapilendra Deva (1435–1466) of Orissa fought against the Reddys, scored a victory and occupied the whole of Kondaveedu territory by 1454. But in the historic struggle for power for the throne of Orissa, Hamvira had to fight his brother Purushottam, who had succeeded to the throne after their father's death. He sought the help of the Bahmany Sultan in this war. He was successful in defeating his brother and occupied the throne of Orissa kingdom, in 1472. But in the bargain, he gave Kondapalli and Rajahmundry to the Bahmany Sultan. Subsequently, Purushottam defeated Hamvira in 1476 and occupied the throne of Orissa. But it is also said that in 1476, a revolution began at Kondapalli when there was famine in the Bahmany kingdom. The garrison of Kondapalli revolted and gave possession of the fort to "Hamer Oriya" or Hamvira.[7][8]

Purushottam, once he became the king, tried to get back Kondapalli and Rajahmundry from the Bahmany Sultan III. But when he held siege over Rajamundry, for some unknown reason he signed a peace treaty with the Sultan, which resulted in souring of relations between Bahmany and Vijayanagar rulers, which resulted in minor battles. But in 1481, after the death of Sultan Mahammad, the Bahmany kingdom was in disarray and taking advantage of this situation Purushottam fought with Mahmad Shah, the Sultan’s son, and took control of Rajahmundry and Kondapalli fort.Gajapati Purushottam Deva died in 1497 and was succeeded by his son Gajapati Prataprudra Deva.[7]

In 1509,Gajapati Prataprudra Deva started a war against Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar Empire, but Gajapati had to retreat to the north to defend an attack by Sultan Allauddin Hussan Shah of Bengal. The consequence was that Krishnadevaraya had an easy victory over Kondapalli, which he occupied in June 1515. In the last war fought in 1519, Krishnadevaraya once again defeated the Orissa ruler. Since the Kondaveedu fortress was very strong, after three months siege of the fort, Krishnadevaraya had to personally direct the operations to get control of the fort. Following this war, Krishnadevaraya married Gajapati Prataprudra Deva’s daughter,Kalinga Kumari Jaganmohini. A treaty was also signed for restoring all land up to the southern boundary of the Krishna River to Orissa, which included Kondapalli.[7][9]

But after the treaty with Vijayanagara emperor, between 1519 and 1525,Gajapati Prataprudra Deva had to defend his territory against invasion by Sultan Quli Qutab, the Sultan of Golkonda. But in the final assault, in 1531, Kondapalli came under the rule of Sultan of Golkonda. The war with Golkonda Sultans was continued by Govinda Bidyadhar, the new ruler of Orissa Kingdom who had succeeded Gajapati Prataprudra Deva (who died in 1533) but ended finally with a treaty with the Sultan.[7]

The area came under Mughal rule in the 17th century. After the disintegration of the Mughal Empire in early 18th century, Nizam ul-Mulk, what later became the Nizam of Hyderabad declared independence and took the area under its control. In late 18th century the area was still under the Nizam’s rule, a treaty of alliance was signed between Nizam Ali and the British East India Company recognizing the control of the British over the territory. This treaty was initially signed on 12 November 1766 under which the company in return for the grant of the territory agreed to garrison troops in the fort for Nizam’s aid at an annual cost of 90,000 pounds. It is also stated that in 1766 the British, under General Caillaud, stormed the fort and took control of it.[2][6][10]

A second treaty was signed on 1 March 1768, under which the Nizam recognized the grant provided to the British by Mughal ruler Shah Alam. But, as a gesture of friendship, the British (then the East India Company) agreed to pay an allowance of 50,000 pounds to the Nizam. However, in 1823, the East India Company rested total control of the Sarcars under an outright purchase from the Nizam.[2][6][10]

In the initial years, the fort was used as a business center but after the British took over the fort in 1766 it was converted into a military training base.[11]

Structure[edit]

The fort, which has a very picturesque sight, has three successive entry gates. The main entrance gate is called the ‘Dargha Darwaja’ built with single block of granite. It is 12 feet (3.7 m) wide and 15 feet (4.6 m) high. Its name is derived from the tomb or dargha of Gulab Shah, who was killed in battle here. Besides Darhgha darwaza, another entrance gate called the Golconda darwaza is located on the other end of the hill, which leads to Jaggaiahpet village. The fortified wall has towers and battlements.[2][12]

At the far end of the fort there is the Tanisha Mahal or Palace, perched on a crest between two hills. The palace had many chambers on the ground floor and a huge hall on the upper floor. In addition, there are several buildings still standing in the fort, which are ruins.[2][12]

There is deep reservoir near the palace, which is sourced by a spring. The water in the reservoir is said to be very cold and to cause fever. There are numerous other water tanks in the fort area, which go dry during the summer months. An old granary now in ruins, beyond the reservoir, is inhabited by bats.[12]

An English barrack is still standing in the fort area, which has eight large rooms, apart from a house in an annex. An English cemetery is also seen in the fort.[12]

Restoration works[edit]

The Archeological Department of Andhra Pradesh has undertaken restoration and renovation works of the fort and the structures located within its precincts. The works cover improving link road to the fort from the National Highway, strengthening and restoring of historical walls, restoration of Jail Khanam (prison house), Koneru pond and Museum, building a rope way up to the hill, construction of inner roads, providing basic amenities such as three phase power supply, drinking water and toilets, landscaping and setting up food courts.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bindloss, Joe; Sarina Singh (2007). India. Kondapalli. Lonely Planet. p. 956. ISBN 978-1-74104-308-2. ISBN 1-74104-308-5. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Devil's Peak, Kondapalli". British library Online. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  3. ^ "Glorious Krishna: District Profile". Krishna district:Government of Andhra Pradesh. Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  4. ^ "Nature's pharmacy at hand". The Hindu. 2008-12-29. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  5. ^ A.T.Rao. "Allanite from the Kondapalli charnockites, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India" (PDF). Department of Geology, Andhra University. Archived from the original (pdf) on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  6. ^ a b c Smith, Vincent Arthur (1908). The Oxford student's history of India. Third Anglo French war. At the Clarendon press. p. 172. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  7. ^ a b c d "Detail History of Orissa: Early Period to 1568 AD". Government of Orissa and National Informatics Centre. Archived from the original on 25 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  8. ^ Mishra, Baba (1995). Medieval Orissa and cult of Jagannatha. History of Kondapalli. Navrang. p. 13. ISBN 978-81-7013-128-1. ISBN 81-7013-128-6. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  9. ^ Satyan, B. N. Sri (1972). Mysore State Gazetteer: Bellary. History of Kondapalli. Director of Print., Stationery and Publications at the Govt. Press. p. 70. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  10. ^ a b Hunter, Sir William Wilson (1881). The imperial gazetteer of India, Volume 2. Circars, the Northern. Trübner. pp. 472–473. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  11. ^ "Glorious Krishna: District: Tourism". Krishna district:Government of Andhra Pradesh. Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  12. ^ a b c d Burgess, James (1872). Indian antiquary, Volume 1. Kondapalli. Popular Prakashan. pp. 184, 185.
  13. ^ "Kondapalli fort to get facelift worth Rs 4.25 cr". Express News. 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  14. ^ "Two tourism projects in Krishna district get nod". The Hindu. 2006-07-04. Retrieved 2009-10-26.

External links[edit]