Tuesday, 21 July 2009

View from Krishnagiri

Senji (or Gingee, as it was known during the British rule) is located about 160 km south of Chennai. It has one of the few surviving forts in Tamilnadu. Originally the site of a 9th century Chola fort, it was intensively modified and further fortified in the 13th century by the Hindu rulers of the Vijayanagar empire. Between then and the mid-18th century it passed through the hands of the Nayaks, the Muslim rulers of Bijapur, the Marathas, The Mughals, the Carnatic Nawabs, and the French.

Senji was so well fortified that Shivaji considered it the most impregnable fortress in India. The British called it the Troy of the East. And, Aurangazeb had to lay siege to the place for 7 years to capture it.

The Senji Fort complex consists of three hills connected by a continuous wall enclosing an area of around 7 sq. km. The entire complex is known as Senji Fort, but each of the three hills has its own self-contained fort. The three hills (and forts) are called Rajagiri, Krishnagiri, and Chandragiri. Rajagiri is the tallest and most formidable. It is about 880 feet high.

My graphite sketch shows the view on a hazy morning from midway up the ascent to Krishnagiri. I sketched it on site and would have probably completed it entirely that morning itself. However, a troop of monkeys seemed to be fascinated by what I was doing and when their inquisitiveness proved to be too much of a hindrance, I closed up shop and completed the sketch at home.

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