” कैसी मशाले लेके चले तीरगी में आप,
जो रौशनी थी वो भी सलामत नहीं रही ” – दुष्यंत कुमार
Penukonda is listed among one of the tourist places in Andhra Pradesh Tourism development corporation web site www.aptourism.gov.in. But I think this place should be deleted from the list until it is taken care by providing tar road, maintaining its falling structures and temples, erecting boards for tourists and providing security to the place. I was not able to reach the main fort area as there were neither any proper roads, sign boards or guide anywhere available. This 500 years old fort is the best example of the negligence of state government. This fort is not under ASI as yet and so state government has to take care..
Only the monuments which are at bottom of hill such as Gagan Mahal, Thimmarasu jail and few old temples are only taken care of by department of Archaeology and Museums. .
If you are not lover of history then I think do not venture into this place. Nothing much is left here if you are looking for monuments.
The historical town of Penukonda is located on Guntkal-Bangalore and about 71 KM from Anantpur on Kurnool- Bangalore highway. About 500 years ago it acted as second capital of Vijay Nagar Empire. It is connected with important cities by rail and and plenty of comfortable buses. .
You could traverse the monuments at Penukonda in 4 hours in following sequence.
Railway station – Gagan Mahal -Thimmarasu Jail – Ramaswamy temple – Eshwar Temple – Jain temple – Syed Fakuddin Mazaar- Fort – Railway station Just a total of 14 KM.
Puttaparthy (Station code on IRCTC – SSPN ) 38 KM, Lepakshi temple (48 KM). Bangalore 120 KM. Penukonda is well connected by train and lot of comfortable buses are available. .
Where to stay
You can not stay at Penukonda as it is a small place.You can stay at Lepakshi or Puttaparthi at APSTDC Haritha hotel. Better and very safe to stay at Andhra Pradesh State Government Hotels always : www.harithahotel.com
Travelling in Passenger Train
These are low speed trains and meant for connecting small villages in India. I boarded the Vijaywada Passenger train from Bangalore. I was travelling in a passenger train probably after 40 years and it was a good experience. In my coach all passengers were Andhra villagers and I wonder each was with newspaper in his hand. From Yelhanka another four passengers boarded and one was 66 years old pilgrim from Sabrimala temple and another old couple from Bangalore after meeting their software engineer son in Bangalore.
It was a very entertaining journey and lot of discussions happened about travels to pilgrimages in India, Nepal and abroad. There was sharing of eatables between passengers and I think I was feeling so good in train seeing the actual India in my small coach. I was really impressed by the simplicity in thoughts of these locals. All were lively and warm. It is difficult to see such stress less life in cities.
Experience at Penukonda
It is a very small railway station. I think first time in my life I got down at such a small railway station. Some autos were waiting outside. Somehow I caught one shared auto and it was difficult for the auto driver to understand my pronunciation of “Penukonda Fort” He was thinking as “Penukonda Court”. Station master had told me that fort is 2 Km but auto driver told me Rs.400 (Later I found it was justified demand and I paid him Rs.600 + threw a lunch for him). There was much language problem throughout in Penukonda.
The shared auto was vacated by others at Penukonda bus stand and then I continued my journey to fort alone. It was about 3 KM of plain road and then from Thimmarasu Samadhi the steep and mud road road started.
Auto tried hard a little more to go ahead about 1 KM and then we had to abandon the auto and had to walk on foot as road was too bad for auto.
The remnants at the Fort
After I left auto I had to walk about 2 KM on steep mud road to reach Lakshmi Narsimha temple. Throughout I did not see even a single tourist to this fort. I did not see any fort walls.
Lakshmi Narsimha temple (below photo) looked really old, dilapidated and completely neglected. There were no main icons statues inside the temple building. There was a Lord Hanuman statue mounted on the wall of absent main deity garbh grah.
Took a few photograph and got down the stairs and saw some structures which were as per auto driver ( acting as guide) these were shops during Vijay nagar empire.
Also these was a very good old pond with some small deity temple.
The auto driver showed my the main fort which looked to be about another 2 KM walk on hill. I had no strength to go further and so I started coming down the fort. On way we came back to abandoned auto and came in plain hill to visit Gagan Mahal.
Gagan Mahal is the only structure in Penukonta which is under control of Department of Archaelogy and Museums Survey Of India. It was summer palace and harem of Vijay Nagar Empire. It is two story building and consists of 45 foliated arches similar to Lodi dynasty style of architecture which are in Delhi. Middle of the ground floor and first floor had provisions of rooms ( which are open now) and windows. The first floor has 12 arches and 8 windows.. The palace was built without a single rafter which is a unique specimen of architecture.
This temple is adjacent to garden of the Gagan Mahal.
Beside Gagan Mahal there is one big temple known as Ishwar temple. I did not see much crowd here but by look it seems it is well maintained.
Also we saw Thimmarasu Jail which is just opposite of Gagan Mahal..
In 1524 AD Vijaynagar king Krishnadevraya crowned his minor son but soon he got ill and was suspected a poisoning case. As per historians Krishnadevraya was suffering from blood pressure and used to take impulsive decisions. In this case also he suspected his most loyal Prim minister Thimmarasu and ordered blinding and imprisonment. Just see in good days Krishnadevraya used to call this most loyal Prime Minister as his ” appaji-father”.
Thimmarasu is said to be responsible for rise of Vijaynagar empire. Locals here I felt even today have very high respect for Thimmarasu. This is the building where Thimmarasu was imprisonment and died. Later Krishnadevraya found that thimmarasu was not the culprit but it was too late. In deep anguish and remorse king Krishndevaraya also died at raw age of 42.
This is very famous temple and lot of Jain pilgrims visit here mostly from Karnataka. The temple was closed when I saw this at 1.30 PM.
Gate of the fort
This gate is at bottom of hill. Fort is about 4 KM on steep mud road.
Took lunch with auto driver. Penukonda is a very small town and has only 1-2 average restaurants. But Andhra rice, Sambhar and rasam was very very tasty and cost we just Rs.60.
Then we saw Syed Baba Fakruddin Mazar (Grave) where I saw many people who came to see this grave with some or the pther prayer and their wishes to be full filled.
This city was second capital of Vijay Nagar Emipre in early 16th century. Barring a few smaller monuments in the city at bottom of the fort hill such as Gagan Mahal, Parshwanath temple, Thimmarasu jail and Syed Fakruddin grave, the main fort for which Penukonda is known on Andhra Pradesh Tourism map is utterly neglected. I think no tourist with family can reach the fort as there is mud road and even auto can not reach before 4 Km from Lakshmi Narayan temple and main fort. Very difficult to get guide here.
But if you love history and can afford trekking on lonely hill, it is a good place definitely and you will get a feel of achievement after reaching the fort. Unfortunately I got tired when I reached Lakshmi Narayan temple and dropped plan to visit fort which was 2 KM further on steep road. In future it seems ISKON temple is planned near the fort at hill and I think then it will be a real place to visit.
A definite good spot for trekkers, adventurers and those who love desolated, solitary, secluded and haunted type historical remnants.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh