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Home > The Tamil Heritage - History & Geography > Gingee - the Fort with a 1000 Year History
Gingee - the Fort with a 1000 Year History
General Secretary Dravida Peravai
11 November 2007
[see also http://www.gingeefort.com/ ]
To know about the history of a Fort situated in Tamil Nadu, more than the Universities and Research Institutions in India, the French institute called Ecole Francaise D'Extreme Orient has been rendering valuable services - a contribution which must be acknowledged with a deep sense of gratitude.
Professor M. Bourdat of Lycee Francaise in his book '18th
Century Pondicherry' published in 1992 writes about
Inland Forts. The task to write about Senji (Gingee) falls on the shoulders of Jean Deloche of the Ecole Francaise
D'Extreme-Orient and he has produced a monumental work in
his mother tongue French entitled " Senji (Gingi) Ville fortifie'e du
pays Tamoul". The English version of this book had
also appeared. It will take decades to see it in
Far away from Pondicherry the entrance of the Gingee Fort has got a Pondicherry Gate. Similarly Pondicherry has a Gingee Salai, road that leads to Gingee. Why so? It denotes the inseparable historical connectivity between these two places. French captured Gingee and it remained with the French for almost a decade.
The battle for Gingee is vividly portrayed in volume XV of the " Lettres edifiantes et curieuses " written by a Jesuit priest Father Lavaur.
This how French conquest of Gingee is recorded. Many have conquered and many have ruled Gingee but a young man known for his bravery is still the hero of Gingee, that too after being killed in a war. Yes, this brave man Desingh at the age of 22 with just 500 troopers and 350 horses faced an army of 8000 horsemen and 10,000 soldiers. The result was that he lost his life, his wife was immolated in his funeral pyre. But he lives in history and in peoples memory.
Raja Desingu, the film where M G Ramachandiran played Raja Desingu was not well received by the audience because the fans of MGR did not relish the thought of hero dying in a war. But the real hero Raja Desingu is a hero living in folklore, ballads and peoples memory. The difference in these battles is that while French recorded the history of the battle, Tamils wrote folk songs adding their imaginative skills, and that is why historians dismiss these literary evidences unless corroborated with archaeological and other findings.
A question arises to every ones mind. How could a fort that produced the heroic Desingh in later days fall so easily to French? The answer is found in a book of a French scholar who is true to his quest towards truth.
This impregnable fortress had fallen into alien hands and the defeat is subject to a post mortem by a French scholar Bourdot in his book "18th Century Pondicherry."
M.Bourdat deserves due applauds for placing these truths in the pages of history to set the record straight.
Jain Saints had dwelled in the hills of Gingee from 2nd century to 6th centuries, as evident by many stone carvings and other evidences of Gingee being citadel of Jainism.
Gingee was under Pallava Emperors between 600 to 900 AD. Chozha Emperors ruled Gingee between 900 to 1103 AD. In the stone epigraphs at Aanangur of Athitya Chozhan (871-907) and of Athiya Chozhan II (985-1013) it becomes crystal clear that Chozha Emperors ruled Gingee.
Pandya Emperors, Chozha Rulers and Hoysala Kings ruled between 1014 to 1190 AD. Yadhava kings ruled Gingee between 1190 to 1330 AD. It came under Vijayanagar rule from the fag end of 14 th century and for 150 years it was under Vijayanagar rule.
It came under the rule of Bijapur Sultans between 1649-1677 AD. Maharastrians ruled from 1677-1697. Moghuls ruled from 1700-1750 AD. It changed between British and French rule from 1750.
As an authority on Gingee, Professor Jean Deloche describes with passion " the technological skills shown in water management and also in the art of war after the invention of gunpowder." Professor Jean Deloche elaborates the military architecture angle too with vivid details. According to him, during the rule of Vijayanagar Governors
Talking to us enthusiastically the Professor is at his best when he narrates the profound changes brought about by the Nayaks in their almost 100 year rule -
This architectural marvel from military point of view and the water management plan of the Fort have blended together and created a uniqueness.
The Fort at Gingee declared as a National Monument in 1921 is under the Archaeological Department.
French scholar Jean Deloche and his publications, although known to scholars must be taken to the common man. An Engineer by profession R.Mani has tirelessly given a helping hand in preparation of maps and repairs of forts including Gingee fort. He has also penned a book in Tamil " Varaltaril Gingee'. This is just a candle while we have to illuminate Gingee's history with 1000 lights.