Monday, March 24, 2008
Agony & ecstacy of Penukonda
Penukonda was once a temporary capital for the Vijaynagar kings, who feared the Adil shah sultans, who were notorious for massacre of the Royalty and looting of the wealth of Vijaynagar Kingdom. Now Penkonda lies in ruins which does not have the attention of either the ASI or the Andhra government. There is a proposal to construct a road all the way to the top which may take a year or two.
The self appointed guide or endorsed by ASI was a greedy chap with high strung ego. Normally he is supposed to open the gates of the Gagan Mahal palace @ 9 a.m. but he was missing even after 10 am. I am wondering how such a prestigious palace, which backed up as summer capital was handed over to a temporary guide by ASI. He was demanding money as if he is the Lord or owner of the Palace. The attitude was not tourist friendly at all, which we hated in him, even though the amount demanded by him was not much. He challenged me to explain the history.
Penukonda signifies a huge hillock in telugu. The fort was constructed by Viru Virupanna Udiayar of Vijaynagar clan. It backed up as third capital or Summer capital for the emperors after Anegondi and Hampi. This location was backed by plenty of water and greenery, unlike recent times. It prompted the kings of time to go on building spree, of various temples dedicated to Veerabhadra, Hanuman, Lord Ganesh, Yoganarashima, etc. At one time 365 temples were completed to commemorate 365 days of the year.
The Fort, which is built on the huge hillock does not have proper direction or guidance, we were totally lost in our endeavour to discover the Fort. We took a wrong route which was laden with thorns, which we had to abandon midway. By mere preview we were able to judge there are at least 7 watch towers to cover a large expanse. We heard that AP government is building a road to lead upto the Fort. Hopefully we will be able to witness the grandeur next time around.
The temples in and around are almost in a ruined state, in between there is Kalliswar ashram and Babayya darga. There is sense of prevailing tension in the air with armed guards protecting the ashram. A huge stretch of govt. land is being utilized with national monuments being isolated. Photography of the spot is being disallowed by the guards, obviously to protect their self interest. The place is wonderfully landscaped.
There are no proper directions for the various temples, which has enormous tourist potential. I hope some action is initiated to clear the pathways which have been encroached up by settlements. Some of the temples have great architectural value. Gangan mahal palace even though began Devaraya seems to have been completed by the Moghuls or Sultans.
It is sad that ruins around the Fort and the city speaks volume on the neglect of heritage site. If sincere effort is made tourists will fill the coffers of the locals and the ASI. Since Penkonda is close to Puttaparthi it makes sense for the govt. to showcase heritage to the tourists.
Penukonda can be reached from Bangalore through NH 4, and it is closer to another major religious centre, which famous for Sai Baba Ashram. Penukonda is approximately 140 kms from Blore and Puttaparthi is another 37 kms away from this place.