Saturday, June 20, 2015

Gingee (Chengi) Fort - My best hike ever in India !

Last month, we had been to Pondicherry for summer holidays. On our way back, we visited Gingee Fort (pronounced as "Chengi" in Tamil). Gingee Fort is at about 1.5 hours drive from Pondicherry and 3.5 hours drive from Chennai. If you love to hike, this is the place that you should visit. We reached there on a holiday weekend (May 1st, 2015) and wasn't sure if it would be open for visitors. We were positively surprised to learn that Gingee Fort is open throughout the year. This information isn't publicly available anywhere. There was one employee at the tickets counter. He mentioned that Gingee Fort comes under the Tourism department and hence, we can get information about Gingee Fort from Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) in Chennai. There was enough parking space in front of the fort and there was a nominal parking fee.

We reached one of the 3 forts (yes! there are 3 separate forts) and learned that the hike to the top will take about 1 hour. My dad/mom weren't very motivated to climb (in fact, the hike is strenuous. I wouldn't recommend it for folks who are old and having knee problems) . My wife, daughter and I took about 1 hour to complete the hike with multiple stops in between. We carried just 1 water bottle and realized at the end of our onward hike that it isn't sufficient. There was a guy selling some snacks + water bottles at the top (Hey! Its India...). If you are lucky on your day of the hike, you may find one also... but, don't bet on it and carry a water bottle with you. There are no shops near / on top of Gingee fort. By the time we reached the top, we were gasping for breath. But the view at / from the top was amazing. At the top, there were some leftover remains of the fort. I saw groups of youngsters carrying their lunch packs and having their food there. Like most attractions in India, Gingee Fort was also polluted with water packets, plastic bottles and plastic covers. Thanks to the common sense of our people who litter wherever they go.We spent about 30 minutes at the top of the fort and started walking down. We were able climb down very fast (it took just 30 minutes).

There were 2 more forts near by. But, we were told that the hike to those forts may take 2 - 3 hours. We decided to do those hikes some other day. If you are in/around Chennai and looking for a hiking place, consider visiting Gingee Fort.

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