Penukonda Fort

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Penukonda means a big hill. It is located 70-kms from Anantapur on the Kurnool-Bangalore road. The town is most picturesquely situated at the foot of a fortified hill and connected with it at both the ends runs a semi circular line of fortifications. This town has become famous, as Penukonda fort is situated here, which is one of the major tourist attractions of Andhra Pradesh.
Penukonda was the second capital to the Vijayanagar kings and was called as "Ghanagiri" or "Ghanadri". The numerous inscriptions at the place states that king-Bukka I of Vijayanagar entrusted the province of Penukonda to his son Vira Virupanna Udaiyar in whose time the Penukonda Fort was built.
The name of the Penukonda fort is mentioned as Ghangari in inscriptions. The structure of the fort shows the splendid sculptural beauty and skilled workmanship of ancient times. According to the history, the Penukonda fort was the capital of Vijayanagara Empire for a short period and it is most inaccessible to the enemies. An inscription at Kallodi in Mysore reveals that Bukkaraya had a channel dug in order to bring water from the Penneru to this town, which would appear to be originally the summer resort of Vijayanagar Kings of the second dynasty, which is called "Gagana Mahal".

The Gagan Mahal witnesses the majesty and aristocracy of Royal times and it was built in 1575 AD. Gagan Mahal has a basement in Hindu style but a ground floor of intricate Islamic details with later additions. Continuing the Vijayanagar traditions, the palace is similar to several structures at Hampi, with Islamic style arches, vaults and plaster decoration combined with temple like elements.

Another important sight is "Babayya Darga" which is the symbol of communal harmony between Hindu and Muslims. It is traditionally believed that there were 365 temples at the place, one perhaps meant for worship each day of the year. Of these temples Lord Yoga 'Narasimhaswamy', Lord 'Kashi Vishwanatha' and Lord 'Yogarama' temples are important ones. Most of these seem to have destroyed. The numerous ruins and fragments of carved stones, which lie scattered both on the hill and the plain recall the past glory of the place.

One can find a huge idol of Lord Hanuman, which is about 11 feet high, at the 'Yerramanchi' gate, the main entrance of the fort. The most important mosque is the 'Sher Khan Mosque', which has on the pavement of its courtyard a Telugu inscription of 'Sadashiva', dated 1564. There is another mosque in the fort at the entrance to which is a large porch in Hindu style.

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