Kondaveedu Fort, Andhra - a formidable fort steeped in history

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Kondaveedu village, 25 kilometer from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, has a small range of rocky hills. Situated here are three forts  (two unnamed forts) which are spread across hills, valleys, and the ridge. All of them are in ruins. It is a hill fortress. Located 1,700 feet (520 m) above MSL.  It was  believed to be then one of the strongest forts in the region and the rulers of various regions had an eye on this formidable fort. The earliest  fort  came up here in the 12th century.  The main fort was established by the Reddy Kings; it was their base in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its ramparts are dotted with high towers and he fortifications enclose crumbling apartments, chambers, magazines, and granaries. The fort is accessed through  two entry gates  called the ‘Kolepalli Darwaza’ and the ‘Nadella Darwaza’. The entrance gate is three storied, massive structure made of granite stone blocks

A smaller fort  situated in the valley has the remains of temples, mandapams, and wells spread across the place. The third fort was built by the Vijayanagar rulers who ruled this place  in the early 16th century. Situated below the flank of a hill, it must have been a strong fort  during their heyday. The most impressive monument in this fort is a 16th century temple called ‘Gopinath Temple’ that has a large outer ‘mandapam’ Efforts are underway by the ASI to classify Kondaveedu  Fort as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Constructed during the time of Telugu Chodas, Kondaveedu Fort later changed hands many times. This fort was built by Anapotha Reddy in 1250 A.D and later developed by Ana Venkata Reddy and Prolaya Vema Reddy. Kakatiya Ganapati Deva during his expedition  in the coastal Andhra, captured the fort. During the rule of Gajapathis the three forts covered about 30 hillocks and 24 bastions.   Upon the capture of Prataparudra by Tughlaq in 1323 AD, his associate  Prolaya Vema Reddy became an independent ruler and shifted his capital in 1323 from Addanki to Kondaveedu  for safety consideration. The fort fell under  Gajpathis of Orissa and later terribly damaged by the Muslim rulers of the Bahmani kingdom (1458). After a long period of lull, the Vijayanagara ruler  Krishnadevaraya took over the fort in 1516 and, subsequently, after  sustained efforts, the Golconda  Sultan Quli Qutb Shah captured it in 1579 and changed its name to  Murtuzanagar. Later it was recaptured by Vijayanagara rulers.
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It was in 1752 the fort came under the administration  of the French colonists and during the French occupation, the fort was well strengthened. In 1788  the English took control of the fort but abandoned it in early 19th century in favour of Guntur. As many as 21 structures  are recorded inside the fort. A  stone built building with rock slabs, has 110 meters (360 ft) long inscriptions. The fort has  various parts inside it- magazines, storehouses, warehouses, granaries etc., made of granite are  in a dilapidated state due to prolonged negligence, lack of interest and inadequate funds available from the government for repair and restoration. For several decades, this sturdy fort was neglected by the successive state government administrations  who could have given some kind of protection against hooliganism and anti-social activities in this monument. Urgent repair and restoration work should be taken soon to avoid further degradation. Glad to know that steps are taken to repair the forts and the first work undertaken is the construction of a ghat road to access the forts on the hill.