13th Century fort from Chola period discovered near Villupuram
Gengavaram holds historical importance in that it was formerly known as Gangaikondachozhapuram followed by Gangaipuram.
VILLUPURAM: A 13th-century fort, believed to be belonging to the Kadavaraya dynasty that flourished in the Chola period, was recently discovered by a team of archaeologists, history students, and researchers at Gengavaram village near Gingee. Calling it the oldest of its kind in Tamil Nadu, the research team has sought for the site's preservation.
Gengavaram holds historical importance in that it was formerly known as Gangaikondachozhapuram followed by Gangaipuram. Nestled atop a hill at an elevation of 1,550 feet, the village houses the fort, referred to by locals as Thuruvankottai. Over the past few weeks, a research team led by T Ramesh, Assistant Professor from the Department of History at Aringar Anna Government Arts and Science College in Villupuram, has been extensively studying this fort. "Thurugam, meaning 'fort' in Marathi, led us to believe that the locals under the Maratha rulers named it Thuruvankottai," Ramesh told TNIE.
The fort's primary entrance is on the east side, while most steps on the west side have been damaged. To enhance security, a wall has been constructed on one side, while an exit can be found on the southwest side. The fort was primarily constructed with bricks, soil, and lime.Ramesh explained, "We discovered traces of small rooms. An oil well was found, covered by a structure shaped like a bat's forehead, and two square-shaped cavities that were used likely for storing oil."
The team also discovered five inscriptions at the fort. One was discovered on the embankment at the heart of the hill. According to the inscription, the lake was once known as Avani Alapirandavan, which Ramesh confirmed to be another name for King Koperum Singan of the Kadavaraya dynasty. Springs associated with Kachiperumal, Mannar Makkal Nayagan, a Shivalinga engraved in a rock, two mortar pits were also uncovered.
Ramesh continued, "These pieces of evidence strongly indicate that this fort belonged to the Kadavarayars, a small kingdom that flourished in Nadunadu under the Chola dynasty during the 13th century. These rulers initially governed from Kodalur (Cuddalore) before relocating their capital to Senthamangalam near Ulundurpet. They considered themselves the descendants of the Pallava dynasty. It was also revealed that the fort was utilised during the Vijayanagar Nayakar period after the decline of the Kadavarayars."
Ramesh urged for immediate government action to preserve this historical legacy for future generations.