The dissipated fort that once guarded and protected the magnificent city, still stands proud at the heart of the modern day city of Tiruchirappalli. The fort walls may have been built-over, the city may have grown beyond its once magnificent walls, the history of the city that the walls withheld might have been re-written and retold more than once, but the stories it tells and creates every day has never stopped.
Those who come from Trichy, would have heard of the Main Guard Gate for sure. It is in a fact in itself the heart of the city with four centuries of history woven into its walls, sometimes quite literally as it has been renovated and redesigned by various kings of Pallavas, Cholas and Madurai Nayakas, each leaving their own subtle signatures all along the fort and into the city itself.
The fort includes some of the iconic places like Rani Mangammal Palace, which was used as durbar of Madurai Nayak when Trichy was their capital which now houses government offices and government museum; Clive’s hostel that once housed Robert Clive and his men when the city was made cantonment during the British era, now houses the hostel for young students of St. Joseph’s college; the busy streets beyond the gate surrounding the temple tank which is filled with shops and the Main Guard gate itself which stands proud and that which protected its walls and the city in some of the fiercest battles fought in its wake which includes the Carnatic war fought between Chandha Sahib and the British. The most iconic and famous place of all is the upper cave temple -Lalithankura Pallaveshwaram cave temple which is believed to be built by Mahendhra Varman I and lower cave temple also believed to be built by Narasimha Varman I Mamalla, which adorns the upper and lower part of the massive 3.8 billion year old rock formation, commonly known as the Rockfort.
It is an amazing thought indeed that the once the streets that saw the troops paraded on, now has commuters and shoppers ebbing with excitement and the quarters of the Clive’s hostel once held meetings planning the course of action for protecting the city walls and other military operations, now holds meetings planning the weekend plan of the students staying there.
As of today, the remains of the once magnificent fort and the city and the remnants of the fort walls itself carries stories of its past and victories: some cherished and some forgotten in time. The once proud walls that protected the city and roared cries of victories over the won battles, now reverberates with the roars of laughter shared by the commuters and shoppers and tell stories of the life that in itself portrays the very essence of the modern city of Tiruchirappalli.