Namakkal Fort is a historic fort present in Namakkal in Namakkal district in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. The fort is located on the top of a hillock made of a single rock, 75 m (246 ft.) tall. There is a temple and a mosque that are located within the fort, both of which are popular tourist attractions of the town. In modern times, the fort is under the control of the Archaeological Department of the Government of Tamilnadu.
Namakkal Fort is an imposing monument and stands tall and proud on a forbidding, sheer rocky hill called Namagiri. From atop the hill, you can enjoy spectacular views of Namakkal town and the mountains around. Incidentally, Namagiri or Naamamalai was the chief source of water for Namakkal town earlier, till the River Kaveri waters were brought.
The northern spur of the hill has an eye-catching Vaishnavite Namam (mark) painted on the hillside close to a Vishnu temple. The Namam (mark) is the white and red striking representation of Vishnu. It is portrayed with vertical lines - two white and a single red one. Namagiri has eight Theerthams (holy water springs). The largest one is Kamalalayam (Home of the Lotus), which is holy to the Goddess Namagiri Amman.
According to Hindu legend, the hillock on which the fort is located was carried by Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant of King Rama from the epic Ramayana. The hillock is known as Namagiri and also as Saligramam, the image of Vishnu in a divine stone. Hanuman was flying with the Sanjeevi Parvatha, the sacred mountain from North India to Sri Lanka.
On his way, he saw the Kamalalayam tank and descended there to perform his morning worship. He placed the Saligramam he brought from Himalayas and when he opened his eyes after the worship, he saw the stone grown to its current size. A divine voice asked him to leave the stone in the place itself.
As per another legend, Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu, after destroying demon Hiranyakasipu, was still in ferocious mood. Hanuman brought him to the place where Mahalakshmi, the consort of Vishnu was doing penance.
The fort was built by the Madurai Nayaks during the 17th century. It may have been built by Ramachandra Naik, the Poligar of Sendamangalam, although it has also been attributed to Lakshmi Narasayya, an officer under Mysore Kingdom. Subsequently, it came under the control of Tipu Sultan. When the British capture it in 1769, it was under the rule of Mysore. Hyder Ali re-conquered the Fort, only to lose it to the British again in 1792. It contains the ruins of a Lord Vishnu temple dedicated to Ethirili Perumal with the inscription of Sadaiyavarman Sundhara Pandiyan.
The fort is located in the centre of Namakkal town over a hillock made of single rock named Namagiri. The fort is located on the top of the rock, 75 m (246 ft.) tall. There is a Narasimha Murthy temple and a mosque that are located within the fort, both of which are popular tourist attractions of the town. Kamalalayam tank, located at foothills, is commonly associated with the fort. The fort is made up with well-cut blocks of the same stone as the hill and cemented to the rock by mortar. The higher portions of the fort are held by their own weight and accurate fitting.
Namakkal fort covers an area of one and a half acres of flat surface and is accessible from the southwest by a flight of narrow steps. The mark is the white and red graphic symbol of Vishnu. The representation is depicted with two white and one red vertical line. The people who believe in Vaishnavism usually wear the symbol on their forehead. On the hills and hillocks of Salem District where Vishnu Shrines are situated, there are large "namams" are painted on the nearby boulders.
On the "Nama Malai", the northern spur (693 meters high) of the "Jarugu Malai" range, a conspicuous "Namam" (mark) is painted on a rock on the hill side near a small shrine of Lord Vishnu. Each of the two prongs that are representing the feet of Lord Vishnu of the Namam is about 40 feet long and 6 edges. This is clearly visible from all parts of the city.
The rock also contains eight holy water springs locally called the Theerthams. It is the biggest of which is the Kamalayam (Home of the Lotus) sacred to the Goddess Namagiri Amman. It was the chief source of water supply for the town until water from the Kaveri River was brought. The other Theerthams are Anatharama Theertham, Narasimha Theertham and Serbha Theertham. Another list of holy Theerthams includes Hanuman Theertham, Lakshmana Theertham, Lakshmi Theertham, Narayana Theertham, Rishi Theertham, and Seetharam Theertham.
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Namakkal Fort is 2 km from the Namakkal bus stop on the Rasipuram road.
Buses are available for every 5minutes from Salem. Buses ply to cities in Tamil Nadu like Salem, Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Erode, Dindigul and Karur. Namakkal is connected to the rest of India through National Highway 7. Buses from Trichy, Madurai will pass through Namakkal to reach Salem and Bangalore.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Salem which is approximately 54 Km.
Nearest International Airport is Coimbatore International Airport located at a distance of 153 kms and Trichy located at a distance of 85 kms.