The people of the Kongu region called the fort as 'Sankagiri Dhurgam' with 'Dhurgam' meaning a fort. Also, as the peak of the mountain looked like a conch shell, they called the hill as 'Sanga' Giri. However, the British mispronounced it as 'Sankari Drug' and the English landscape painter Thomas Daniel, who drew the picture of the fort in the 18th century, titled it as 'Sankaridroog'.
The fort, where the popular freedom fighter Dheeran Chinnamalai of the Kongu region was hanged to death, was under the British rule after the death of the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. But, earlier in the 17th century, it was under the Madurai Naickers and later captured by the Mysore Wodeyar king Chikka Deva Raja.
Besides being a strong military base during different dynasties, the Sankagiri fort is known for the myths surrounding the places in it. A tale about a cave on the fort notes that once a Muslim monk by name Sha-Ha-Mardan- Gazi, entered the cave and never returned, but was strangely seen on the same day at another cave near Shivasamudra Falls on the banks of river Cauvery in Karnataka !
The fort, which has many entrances with strange names like Ranamandala Vaasal ( The gate of bloodshed) and Vellaikaaran Vasal ( White man’s gate), contains another entrance named after an agricultural woman's carrying buttermilk to the British soldiers atop the mountain. Interestingly, the entrance is called Morthitti Vasal ( Buttermilk Gate) !
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Salem boasts many important tourist places and they are of different genres. Some are historical monuments while others are religious shrines. Some are wildlife sanctuaries while others are just visited for panoramic natural beauty. Sankagiri Fort in Salem District is an important tourist place that has natural beauty as well as historical association and thereby it is visited by regular tourists as well as history freaks.
About Sankagiri Fort:Sankagiri Fort is a historical fort in Sankari Taluka of Salem District of Tamil Nadu State. The fort is maintained by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). Located about 22 km from Erode and about 38 km from Salem, this fort has historical significance. The scenic beauty around the fort is also another reason why visitors keep coming to this fort throughout the year. The fort boasts 14 fort walls built on a hill.
Source : Flickr
The last phases of these wall constructions were done by the British. The fort is very easy to reach as it is located on the Coimbatore-Salem National Highway No.47.
Historical Significance of Sankagiri Fort:Sankagiri Fort was built during 15th Century by the Vijayanagara Empire. About 14 walls built across the Snakagiri Hills are the main attractions of this fort. The final construction of these walls was accomplished by the British. The Sankagiri Fort used to be the army base for the great Mysore Ruler Tipu Sultan. After Tipu Sultan got defeated by the British, the fort was used by the British to keep their treasury that they got collected from then Kongu Mandalam area.
Source : Flickr
In the British India, Kongu Mandalam included kingdoms across Erode, Salem, Karur, Dindukal and Nammakal. The British kept the money and gold they collected as part of the tax from various kingdoms of Kongu Nadu very safely within this fort. The fort also has association with Dheeran Cheenamalai, son of Rathina Sakarai. Dheeran Chinnamalai was a courageous warrior and tribal chief by whom Colonel Maxwell of the British Army was beheaded.
Source : Flickr
Later when Dheeran was captured by the British, he was hanged to death in this fort by the British on 31st of July, 1805. The day is celebrated as Adiperukku Day in the remembrance of Dheeran Chinnamalai.
Points of Attraction in Sankagiri Fort:Though there are two different entrances to the Sankagiri Fort, it can be reached by climbing from one side because the other side has steep slopes which make this way almost impossible to climb. Visitors can see two oil warehouses, granary, one store house for explosives, a death wall and a hayloft and administrative buildings inside the fort. There is a long cave that has a mosque at its entrance. Visitors also get to see the cemeteries of many soldiers (British and Muslims) within the fort premise.
Source : Flickr
There is a temple inside the fort dedicated to Varadaraja Perumal. The temple houses many historical items related to Tipu Sultan and Dheeran Chinnamalai. Visitors can see weapons, jewelries and other items related to these two great warriors who had captured the fort in the past.