Gingee fort, enroute Thiruvannamallai:
I happened to stop by at Gingee fort, before i drove on to Thriuvannamallai. This time i chose not to climb the hill, but walk around the ruins lying scattered between the three hills. Gingee fort holds a lot of secrets, from the Vijayanagar period down to the Nayakas and later.
It is a fabulous place which was brimming with life at some point it time, having a solid fort that guards all the monuments within its walls, while one can see watch towers and mandapas along the boulder laiden hillside. I drove on along a muddy road, towards what they called Anjaneyar(hanuman) temple. The beauty of the place is just amazing, I still wondered why people in office just laughed out when i said i wanted to see this fort. They all swore that it was not a great place, at least not to spend a weekend, and now i feel, i really feel they missed out plenty.
The main fort is a days attraction, saps your energy and you are really not enthusiastic enough to explore the ruins below it. But what lies around it is an amazing piece of nature, yet untouched by mankind. I stopped the car, near the "Kaliamman" (goddess kali) temple. Whats starts to look like 3 temples deviod of shrines inside, hosts a pond behind it, the water still fresh and clean urging any passerby to take a dive. The pond, is along the road on one side, on the other it washes huge boulders that stand along its sides. The view is simply spectacular. The main fort is along a hill with very steep cliffs on one side, and the other is a pile of gigantic boulders with a fort wall running along it very abruptly. Below this stands an oasis with a lot of trees which give the sudden burst of greenery around the pond. I parked and walked along the mud road leading around the pond. It took me straight to Kaliamman temple.
I removed my slippers, and walked up to see the entrance lined up with stallae, and lots of them. The priest later told me, that the snakes indicate various functions. Most often these serpents are depicted as a pair, entwined to house a greater deity or remain plain facing each other. Often they are depicted with multiple hoods. Deities typically housed within them are, Krishna, Muruga, Shiva, Naga kanni as far as I can remember. Those snakes that house Krishna, Muruga and Naga Kanni are Nagas, who protect and guard these deities. The plain snakes looking at each other are stellae that guard the main Mother Goddess, in this case its Kaliamman. Interestingly these snakes stand as a seperate stellae next to the main Goddess Herself. Snakes surrounding Naga Kannis would probably be six individual snakes around her, while she is depicted with human head and torso, and snake body.
The most interesting to my eyes, of course were the snakes surrounding Shiva. No they are not plain snakes to guard him. The are Rahu and Ketu holding him in the center and facing each other. Now of course this representation quite beats my logic of Kundalini which i have discussed in "Coiled serpents on a wayside stelae", so i would leave that logic, to Multiple hooded snakes covering the Shiva Linga like an unbrella. There again is another story. Shiva is supposed to have blessed the Naga Kingdom and gifted them with more importance than the mortal world. Hence in reverence, they are always depicted as covering his Linga. The depiction of course continues to be that of two and a half coiled serpents, i might just be right about kindalini.
The whole picture of course looks out of the world. With these stellae lined up, one with krishna, one with Shiva, one with rahu and ketu surrounding shiva, a linga and a few other guardian rocks, under a tree hosting a world of flowers, bees, and monkeys, it also held 4 to 5 trishuls in the ground below it, each decorated with flowers and bangles. And when you look up, its the rocks and boulders of the fort above and when you look back its the pond and the trees with rocky hills in the background with scattered mandapas - vijayanagar style. It almost looks like a mini Hampi.
A truely amazing site.