Chandragiri- The Town Where The Vijayanagara Empire Breathed Its Last! The Town Also Has A Small Fort With Rich History!

Chandragiri is a village in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh with quite a rich history. It is home to a small fort originally built in the year 1000 AD, by the Yadavaraya rulers who ruled these parts for about 3 centuries. In the 14th century, the fort became a part of the Vijayanagara empire which had its capital in Hampi.

The kingdom was ruled by four dynasties successively – the Sangamas, the Saluvas, the Tuluvas and the Aravidus. In the 15th century, Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, the Vijayanagara governor of Chandragiri, staged a coup and snatched the throne from the reigning king, ending the rule of the Sangama lineage, and founding that of the Saluvas. Krishna Deva Raya, the most iconic ruler of Vijayanagar, came from the Tuluva dynasty that ruled next. It is believed that he lived in the Chandragiri Fort until his ascent to the throne, and visited the Tirumala temple on important milestones like his anointment as ruler and after various military conquests.

In the 16th century, an alliance of Deccan Sultanates defeated the Vijayanagara army in the Battle of Talikota, and killed its ruler Aliya Rama Raya. They then proceeded to plunder and destroy Hampi to ruins. The invading armies then plundered and destroyed Hampi leaving it in ruins. However, the slain king’s brother survived the battle and this kept the Vijayanagara kingdom alive for another century. The capital was first shifted to Penukonda, but when that too was attacked by the Golconda Sultanate, it was shifted again to Chandragiri. The Aravidu dynasty, the last to rule Vijayanagara, also ruled from this town. In the early 17th century, Chandragiri passed into the hands of the Golconda Sultanate and finally the Kingdom of Mysore.

It is said that in the 17th century, the British East India Company purchased from Chandragiri’s king’s general, the piece of land where they built Fort St. George. The regions around the fort grew into present day Chennai, known as Madras earlier.

Well, The Chandragiri is now famous for its fort, it has two gateways, with carved pillars typical of Vijayanagara architecture. There are two parts in the enclosure, a lower fort and an upper fort. A granite hill forms the backdrop to the lower fort, which has two important buildings. The first is the King’s Palace, a three storeyed palace with a durbar hall in the middle. The greatest Vijayanagara ruler, Krishnadevaraya, lived here until he ascended the throne. The other building is the Queen’s Palace, which is smaller, but similar in design. It is believed to date back to the reign of Krishnadevaraya’s successor.

Across the road from the king’s palace  are the foundations of a long gone building, it is claimed that  it was the residence of Tenali Rama who was a humorous poet of Krishna Devaraya’s court.

It is said that the fort came into prominence during the reign of Saluva Narasimha Rayalu. Later, the most famous Vijayanagara emperor Srikrishna Devaraya, was kept restricted in this fort as a prince, till his coronation at Penukonda. It is also said that he met his future queen Chinna Devi at this fort.

There is  also a reservoir at the base of the hillock  which collects rain water  flowing down the slope and  makes the  fort self sufficient  for its water needs.

The fort and palace are in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Sharanya Alva