Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Rockfort Temple of Tiruchrapalli and the oldest rocks


Rock Fort Vinayakar temple, Tiruchrapalli, Tamil Nadu. panoramio.com/photo

The most famous monument of Tiruchirapalli city, Tamil Nadu, South India whose recorded history begins in the 3rd century, is a massive  outcrop that rises 83 meters above the flat plains where the Cauvery delta region begins. It is the one of the two massive outcrops in the otherwise flat land of the sprawling city, because of this Tiruchirapalli is often called the rock city. It is basically a historical monument and the temple complex was built on  ancient rocks of Archean age.
Rock Fort Vinayakar temple, Tiruchrapalli,www.breezeresidency.com

Rock Fort Vinayakar temple, Tiruchirapalli,www.www.flickr.com
The 7 th-century Vinayagar temple atop the small hill and Thaayumanavar temple at lower level dedicated to Lord Shiva  are located in the center of the city. They are quite well known landmarks of Tiruchi and attract thousands of of visitors every day. The Pallavas first built part of the cave temple and it was the Nayaks of Madurai, under the Vijayanagara empire, who completed both the temples.  In fact this small hillock is made of igneous rocks predominantly belonging to  granite and related varieties that are formed way below the earth's surface and are  the oldest rocks in the world, almost 3.5 billion  years old, even older than the Vindhayan mountains and Himalaya Mountains, the latter being of recent origin made of sedimentary rocks. Quartz and feldspar constitute  bulk of granite rocks. They were formed at the time of the formation of the earth. To reach the top, one has to make a stiff climb on the hill, covering 437 steps from the bottom - adivaaram. Atop the hillock, you will be amazed   by the breath-taking view of Trichy city in all four directions. No body can miss the captivating views of the tall tower (Gopuram) of Srirangam Ranganathar temple, the old railway bridges across the rivers Cauvery and Kollidam, the tall beautiful  church (Our Lady of Lourdes Church) adjacent to St. Joseph college, etc. At the distance you can see the island of Srirangam in between the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers. In the evening, with  the cool, soothing  wind blowing across the hill top will  you may feel relaxed and  composed. Sometime  you may feel like going into a trance. 
old photo of rock fort, Tiruchirapalli,: LinnaeusTripe1858.oldindianphotos.in
The Fort was built by the Nayakas of Madurai who chose Tiruchirapally as their second capital in the 16th and 17th centuries. The oldest structure in the fort is a cave temple built during the Pallava dynasty in 580 AD.

This region  witnessed  numerous  fierce historical battles among various rulers. The  decisive Carnatic War here  saw the British power well established  in south India. The British troops were led by none other than Robert Clive, the man who later masterminded the take over of the huge Bengal province and adjacent states after the Battle of Buxer. Clive fought against the French forces led by Gov. Dupleix and Nawob Chand Shaib. Clive lived in this city for a brief period. There is a hostel  being run by St. Joseph college, Trichy and it is a famous land mark in the main market area. It was here the British gained a foothold in Tamil Nadu and later other parts of South India. The fort palace  was a mute spectator of the transfer of power from Queen Meenakshi of Madurai Nayak dynasty and Regent to Chanda Sahib, whose alley was  the Kingdom of France. He lost this command when his uncle, the Nawab of the Carnatic along with the British, fought a tough battle and took control of the  fort and the region after the Carnatic wars. Thus the British established their supremacy here.

Bell tower, on the rock fort, Tiruchirapall. www.pinterest.com
Tiruchirapalli city, Tamil Nadu.Tiruchian - WordPress.com
 There is a tall bell tower atop the rock fort just on the way to the temple and nobody can miss it while ascending the steps and it has a huge  metal bell, An interesting fact about the bell is it was donated by G. Crongton Loco and Carriage company associated with S.I.R.(privately owned South Indian Railways company) during the British rule. The bell was cast in 1918 at Steele Mills at Nagapatnam, Tamil nadu. After India's independence, the Steele company came under the control of the Tatas. However, it was closed  a few decades ago for unknown reason - presumably  due to labor problem.

There are numerous temples in and around this city and the world famous Kallanai - roughly 2000 year old water-diversion dam built by the great  Karikala  Chola is just nearby. Thousands of people visit Kallanai - Grand Anaicut, oldest dam in the world. During the British rule Engineer Caldwell strengthened  the dam and used it as model for his other projects.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ucchi_Pillayar_Temple,_Rockfort