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The Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort is a historic fort and temple complex, located in the town of Tiruchirapalli, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Built on an ancient 83 m high rock, it is Tirchi's most famed landmark that is visible from a long distance. The most amazing fact about the rock is that it is one of the oldest in the world approximately 3,800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas.
The fort has witnessed many battles between Madurai Nayakas and Bijapur, Carnatic and Maratha forces. The fort played an important part during the Carnatic Wars and accoring to an inscription, which contributed to lay the foundations of the British Empire in India.
During Nayaka period, the Rock was surrounded by a ring of high walls, but, later demolished by the British at the end of the 18th Century. It's circuit can still be traced by a street than enircles the base of the Rock. Two sanctuaries are excavated into the rock.
At the entrance and at the foot of the Rock, one can see Manikka Vinayakar. People who visits Thayumanavar temple, seeks his blessings fist.
The sheer abruptness of its rise is an attention grabber in itself, but the actual centre of attraction is not the fort itself, of which very little remains, but the Rock Fort Temple or Ucchi Pillayar Koil. The temple is a combination of two famous 7th century Hindu temples, one dedicated to Lord Ganesh and the other dedicated to Lord Shiva.
To visit the temple a climb of 417 steps hewn out of rock lead to the top where there are inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century BC. Eventhough, it is a big task, it is well worth the effort. From here, one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchi.
The ascent of the Rock begins nearby, with a covered staircase flanked by columned halls, one with carvings of donor figures and divinities.
The temple complex is composed of two parts: a Shiva temple (Thayumanaswamy) carved in the middle of the rock and a Pillayar (Ganesh) temple at the top portion of the rock.
A flight of steps lead to the Mathrubhutheswarar or Thayumanaswamy Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses a massive shiva statue in the form of Linga where the lingam is a projection of the rock itself. It also houses a separate sanctum for goddess Parvati. Among the two one, this temple is the bigger one. The temple is mystic in its nature with an awe-inspiring rock architecture. At the top of the Thayumanaswamy temple, one can see guardians and Nandis.
The ascent of the Rock ends at the Ganesh temple, a much smaller temple. The columns in the open hall has figures, dieties and horses. It provides a fine view of Trichy to Srirangam Island and the rivers Kaveri and Kollidam. Due to its ancient and impressive architecture created by the Pallavas, the temple is maintained by the Archaeological Department of India.
The Rock is surrounded by crowded streets and shops. At the foot of the Rock Fort is a large tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festival of the temples. A short distance north of the tank is an 18 the century Christ Church built by Reverend Schwartz of Denmark and a house where Robert Clive lived when he was in Tiruchi.
This Neo Classical building has a small square tower at one corner. The grave of Schwartz, lies nearby. The house is now part of Tiruchy's famous St.Joseph's College.