Kondapalli! The King Sized Fort In Andhra Pradesh Boasts Of A Rich History

The Kondapalli Fort is located to the west of Kondapalli in the Krishna District, near Vijayawada. 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 in length, extends between Nandigama and Vijayawada.

Kondapalli, in Andhra Pradesh, is famous world over for its exquisite wooden toys with each one carefully created by master craftsmen. 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.

The architecture here is a curious hybrid of styles , one can see Persian, Bahamani and Mughal influences. It is because the fort passed through so many royal dynasties and each one influenced it their own way. The fort has a long and interesting history.

Kondapalli fort is constructed by Musunuri Nayakas. After fall of Musunuri Nayakas in 1370 AD, Reddies of Kondaveedu Reddy dynasty in 1370 AD occupied the fort. 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 Bahmani Sultan in this war and 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 Bahmani 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 Bahmani kingdom. The garrison of Kondapalli revolted and gave possession of the fort to Hamvira.

Once Purushottam became the king he tried to get back Kondapalli and Rajahmundry from the Bahmani 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 Bahmani and Vijayanagar rulers, which resulted in minor battles. But in 1481, after the death of Sultan Mahammad, the Bahmani Sultanate 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.

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.

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.

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.

Sharanya Alva


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