Attur Fort, Salem
Attur Fort is a historic fort present in Attur in Salem district in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. The fort was built by a Palaiyakkarar chieftain under Madurai Nayaks, called Lakshmana Nayakan during the 17th Century. It was also occupied by Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and British during various times. In contrary to actual history, it was popularly believed that this fort was built by Founder of Gatti Mudali Dynasty.
The fort was used by the British as a garrison till 1854, after which the fort was not operational. In modern times, the fort is under the control of the Archaeological Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Some portions of the fort are dilapidated, while most other portions are encroached by slum dwellers.
Attur Town is situated on the southern bank of the Vashista River. The town was called Attur Ananthagiri during the Mysore rule in 1689 and was called Attur by end of the 18th century. It was originally believed that the fort was built by the founder of the Katti Mudali dynasty, who built the Shiva and Vishnu temples in the fort. Attur Fort lies on the banks of River Vasishta. Located at Attur, it was built by Gatti Mudhaliyar, a local Chieftain, between 1559 and 1585.
According to a traditional story, Gatti Mudhaliyar was out hunting, and seeing a hare start from a bush, when to examine the spot, where he found the neck of an iron pot protruding. He dug out seven pots full of gold pieces, with which he built the fort.
The pot is mad of sheet iron 1/16 of an inch and having a convex surface of 15.5 square feet. It is made in two pieces, joined together by iron fish-plates riveted to the upper and lower halves and weighs 383/4 lbs. Its capacity is 53/4 cubic feet and when full it would contain about 1,430,784 pagoda pieces, equal to Rs 50, 07,444. The seven pots would, therefore, supposing the story to be true, have contained the equivalent in gold of 3,505,420 pounds.
The Attur is a very ancient and as regards history of the town. Attur is known as the river town. The town is situated on the southern bank of the Vashista River. It dates from 921 and was known as Milattu and Kutratthu Brahmadheyam Malayaman Attur and Malaiyaman Attur. It came to be known as Attur Ananthagiri (Attur Many of hills) during the Mysore rule beginning in 1689.
Under Madurai Nayaks:
The Fort was constructed by a local Palaiyakkarar chieftain Lakshmana Nayakan under Madurai. Attur fort became part of Mysore Kingdom in the late 17th century when frequent wars between Mysore Kingdom and Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai when large parts of north west Tamil region from Dindigul became part of Mysore rulers.
Under Mysore Kingdom:
The region became part of Mysore Wodeyar rulers and later under Hyder Ali of Mysore till 1768, when surrendered to Wood of East India Company. Hyder Ali regained the town from the British East India Company, but the Company won a decisive victory in the 3rd Mysore war was against Tipu Sultan, the son of Hyder Ali.
After the Third Mysore War the region became part of Madras Presidency under British. The fort was used by the British as a garrison from 1792 by and the 23rd Madras battalion under the command of captain compbell occupied it. During subsequent years, the fort was used as an ordinance station from 1799 as the Company troops moved to Sankagiri. After 1854, the fort ceased to act as an operational fortress and the region was clubbed into the newly formed Salem District under the Madras Presidency.
In modern times, the fort is under the control of the Archaeological Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Some portions of the fort are dilapidated, while most other portions are encroached by slum dwellers. In modern times, the fort is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The fort occupies an area of 62 acres (250,000 m2). The walls of the fort are about 30 ft. (9.1 m) tall and 15 ft. (4.6 m) wide. It is decorated by wedge shaped cut-stones fitted without mortar. The construction materials for the walls are believed to be quarried from the Kalladithankundru.
The fort was guarded by the river in the east and by moats on other sides. Gatti dynasty used the large chamber inside the fort as audience hall during their regime. The pool house, used for the pleasure of the royal family, was fed from the river through a water gate.
The fort is in the form of a square with batteries and bastions in the angles and sides. The glacis to the east is overgrown by trees. The south side is guarded by the river and the other faces are protected by a ditch. The outer wall of the ditch and the river bank are strongly riveted.
The ramparts are of cut stone well fitted with mortar. Inside is a large vaulted chamber said to have been the Kacheri of Gatti Mudaliyar. Another large building with an inner court is supposed to have been his harem and dwelling place.
On the south face of the ramparts is Gatti Mudaliyar's pleasure house, a roof on pillars with obtuse pointed arches. Near this is a water gate, cunningly built and strongly defended, leading to the river, and on the north face is another, leading into the ditch. The fort also contains a Vishnu temple which is a apparently a latter construction by Gatti Mudaliyar.
The fort houses the temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and a shrine of Muniyappan, the guardian of the fort. Two years back an amount of Rs. 7 lakhs were allocated for the renovation of Kachery and the other hall. However the fencing work for the fort is completed in total.
There are few Tamil, Grantha, Sanskrit and Telugu inscriptions found in damaged state in this fort. An inscription by Anne Murray wife of John Murray, Commander of the first battalion of the East India Company informs about the death of John Murray in May 6, 1799.
This fort is well connected to Attur Bus stand. Attur lies on NH 79. Attur is well connected with other cities & towns. It is located on NH-68. Three State highways originate from Attur; SH – 30 Attur – Thuraiyur – Musiri, SH – 79 Attur – Rasipuram – Erode, SH – 157 Attur – Perambalur.
Attur is well connected with Salem on the east (north-east) at 45 kilometres on the Salem – Ulundurpet via Kallakurichi NH 68 which in turn connects to Chennai through arterial NH 45 at Ulundurpet and NH 47 (Salem – Kanyakumari via Coimbatore, Cochin, Trivandrum)at Salem with a number of bus routes.
Attur town have two bus stands. Attur is well connected by bus services to Salem, Coimbatore, Chennai, Trichy, Erode, and Pondy. Train services are also available between Attur to Salem, Attur to Virudhachalam and Salem – Chennai Egmore express train runs via Attur. Pondicherry – Bangalore AC express train is expected to run shortly and runs via Attur.
Newly proposed route to Ariyalur via Perambalur will turn Attur railway station to Attur Junction. Land acquisition has been done and stopped due to insufficient funds. There are direct buses to Coimbatore via Avinashi.
Attur is landlocked and depends on the Port of Chennai for most oceangoing freight. Nearest airport is Trichy which is 120 km away from the town. Chennai airport is 264 km from Attur.