ABOUT KONDAVEEDU FORT

Kondaveedu is the largest hill fort in present Andhra Pradesh state, situated about 27 kms southwest of Guntur city. This fort is in the Kondaveedu hills range. Prolayavemareddy started construction of an impregnable fort at Kondaveedu in about 1335 AD, later his son Anavotha Reddy completed and shifted his capital from Addanki to Kondaveedu in the year 1355 AD. At present, there are so many monuments, though they may be small, but they are of immense historical and cultural value. Kondaveedu fort commands a picturesque view from Nemmalla buruju(bastion), south of Nemmala buruju hills sprawling over three kilometers up to NH5 with green forest. apart from Nemmalla buruju there are 22 buruju’s, some of which are Tara buruju or Chukkala konda buruju, Jetty buruju, A.ramanal buruju, Sajjamahal buruju, B.khilla buruju, Miriala chattu buruju, Pamu kuduru buruju, Allavari buruju. These bastions are built on hillocks connecting with a long chain of wall. Of all the Bastions Taraburuju is most impressive eye catching and an icon of Kondaveedu fort. As we know, that Kondaveedu fort was built in hills which are more or less in an oval shape. By being laid a ghat road to this fort, easy access is now available, with this Kondaveedu is going to be a popular holiday destination. It is famous for lakes, forest with 56 kinds of herbal plants, hills and a beautiful description of the fort was made by the great poets like Srinatha and later in 20th century by Duvuri Ramireddy in their writings. once we enter the fort, either from the east or west we indispensably encounter with enchanting water tanks namely Muttyalamma cheruvu(Kunalamma), Puttalamma cheruvu, Vedulla cheruvu. If we walk through this valley feast our eyes in the beauty all-round us.

Big Nandi

BIG NANDI – Vicinity of Kattulabhavi, Kondaveedu.

Reddy kings having found that Addanki was weak from the point of strategy, they at once shifted the capital to Kondaveedu. Considering the importance of water they gave much stress on water harvesting and conservation in this hill fort. The construction of three water tanks within the fort provides valuable knowledge regarding the engineering skills available in 14th century. These three tanks were naturally formed in a rough manner among hills. Reddy kings got them cut 15 to 20 feet deep, collecting water from the hills around them. These efforts not only meet the drinking water needs of the people in the contonment but also helped the survival of the live stock; even today the tourists and livestock quench their thirst in these tanks in mid summer. This is really a classic example of an ancient ingenuity in designing water harvesting structure to meet the needs of the people living in the fort. Reddy kings adopted similar water harvesting techniques in their other forts like Vinukonda, Bellamkonda, Kondapalli and so on.
Hill fortress are located in hills and rocky areas, in such forts water is scarce in those days. Then how could be possible for a garrison of several hundred men live at the top of these hills throughout the year without sufficient supply of drinking water? If we observe in Kondaveedu and their other forts, the water supply arrangements, the Reddy kings utilized all depressions, relatively shallow, wide and flat, cavities, deep fissures, fractures, where water can be stored were used and in the flat areas, the ground was excavated in the form of reservoir and entirely artificial works were built. It means that in hills water resources were appreciable and the said kings took all possible steps to get rid of the seasonal fluctuations.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Cultural heritage can be sub divided into two types- tangible and intangible heritage. The former includes built heritage such as religious buildings, museums, monuments and archeological sites, as well as movable heritage such as works of art and manuscripts. Intangible cultural heritage includes customs, music, fashion and other traditions within a particular culture.

KONDAVEEDU HERITAGE MUSEUM – Under Construction at Kondaveedu

MONUMENTS

Monuments: Worth seeing monuments in and around Kondaveedu fort includes; Moolankureswari temple in Ameenabadh village where the Reddy king’s family deities’ temple is located on a small fascinating hill. Reddy kings offered innumerable donations to this temple. The temple was rebuilt by Pedakomativema Reddy; Veerabadhra temple located in the midst of Phirangipuram village in which daily Pooja’s are being performed for god Veerabadra and his consort Badhra kali. The most interesting thing about this temple is that a big stone inscription written by the great poet Srinatha, issued by the queen Suramamba wife of Pedakomativema, at the time of opening of Santanasagaram (water tank) meant for the purpose of irrigation and drinking water for the people, in 1410 AD.

MOOLANKURESWARI TEMPLE -In Ameenabadh

Kattulabavi or Gopinath temple in Kota village on the foothills of Kondaveedu fort, the biggest single building and one of the most captivating monuments, said to have been built by Vijayanagara king Atchutaraya, in this region a good example or specimen of Vijayanagara style both for art and architecture. Local people call it Kattulabavi, regarding this name a story has been in a wide circulation, as for folk lore and local regards, in order to suppress the rebellion of 72 poligars of that region, minister Ramayabhaskara conceived a plan, according to which, a well was dug in the temple garbha gruha in which swords were arranged, 72 poligars were invited to the temple to the ongoing celebrations and made them pass into the well one by one and cut into pieces.

GOPINATH TEMPLE -In Kondaveedu, also called as Kathulabhavi

Another important place is Chenghiskhanpet where, the highly-venerated god Vennamudda Balakrishna’s abode is found. The enticing life size Balakrishna’s idol, it is of its own kind found in India, in a crawling posture holding butter ball in the right hand with reclining left hand on butter bowl, idol black in color is amazing.

VENNAMUDHA BALA KRISHNA- At Kondaveedu

Until close of 13th century, the mention of Kondaveedu was conspicuously absent either inscriptions or in literature. At the dawn of 14th century Kondaveedu became the center of political activity with the founding of Reddy kingdom at Addanki, started the royal activities at Kondaveedu which the Reddy rulers thought to be more strategically located in the midst of their kingdom to protect and conduct military operations in a skillful manner. Though initial building of massive fort at Kondaveedu was started by the founding ruler Prolayavema Reddy, later his son and successor Anavotha Reddy completed and moved his capital from Addanki to Kondaveedu in 1355 AD. Kondaveedu is a combination of 42 small and big hills among which this hill fort was built in an extensive area. Within the fort on the top of the hills 4 to 5 sq. kms plain land is available with an awe striking scenic beauty. By the middle of the 14th century Reddy kings faced threats from surrounding kings like Vijayanagar, Bahamans and Padmanayakas of Rajukonda. To meet the challenges put to them this fort was built, in an era marked by bloodshed, battles and fortifications where power was symbolized by magnificent buildings and forts and to instill fear in the mighty invaders.

KONDAVEEDU FORT LAYOUT

Prolayavema reddy (1325 -1353 AD)

Except Prolayavema reddy all the reddy kings of Kondaveedu lived in Kondaveedu and ruled their kingdom from here. The first king Prolayavema built a large number of forts, tradition says it was 84, like Dharanikota, Dhanadaprolu(Chandavolu), Vinukonda, Kondaveedu, Kondapalli and Bellamkonda and stationed garrisons in places of strategic importance. Vema ruled his kingdom in just manner thus he earned the title ‘Dharmaprathistaguru’. Vema’s court poet was Yerrapragada. Yerrapragada rendered the left-over part of Aranyaparva of Sanskrit Mahabarata into Telugu. Yerrapragada dedicated his two works namely Harivamsa and Ramayana to his lord Prolayavema. Prolayavema was very liberal to brahmans well versed in vedic lore and gathered round him many Sanskrit scholars and Telugu poets. Prolayavema facilitated the devotees both at Srisailam and Ahobilam by constructing steps to temples in the hills.

YERRAPRAGADA – Court poet of King Prolay

Anavotha or Anapotha reddy (1354 – 1364 AD)

Anavotha succeeded to the throne in about 1353 AD. Immediately after assuming the throne, Anavotha launched his eastern campaign with the help of Choda Bhakti raja conquered and assumed the title of ‘Dvipa-jeta’ which was attested by Daksharama temple inscription in 1356 AD. Due to inequity of administrative laws governing commerce, sea born trade suffered heavy loss. Considering the importance of marine trade, he personally visited Motupally, issued new charter to merchants engaged in overseas trade, and set forth there in the terms for carrying trade at Motupally. Vijayanagara ruler Bukka1, Racherla chief Madanayaka, Bahamans all were craving to expand their kingdoms towards eastern coast. At this critical juncture Anavotha died in the year 1364. Anavotha was a great solider by dint of his prowess he earned the title ‘Virannavotha’. He is set to have granted many agraharas to brahmins and instituted many satras or feeding houses in places of pilgrimage. He took great interest in the welfare of the people. As we have seen above, Anavotha gave much stress on trade and repealed unjust laws regarding marine trade. He also patronized men of letters both in Sanskrit and Telugu. He rebuilt the Amareswara temple at Amarvathi

VEERABHADRA TEMPLE – At Motupally

TRILINGUAL INSCRIPTION (Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit) – Issued by Anavotha

Anavema reddy (1364 – 1386 AD)

Anapotha’s or Anavotha’s son Kumaragiri was too young to become the king so his brother Anavema took the reigns of Kondaveedu in 1364 AD. Anavema’s immediate task was to consolidate and expand the kingdom. In his eastern campaign, he reconquered the Diviseema and wore the title ‘Dividurgavibhala’. His forces marched up to Simhachalam conquesting Vengi, Niravadyaprolu(Nidadavolu), Panara and Kona districts, then crossed Vasista and Goutami(Godavari) to lay seize Rajamahendravaram. The fall of Rajamahendravaram paved the way for the subjugation of the country further east. Next he occupied jaladurgas then Virasamantas(Koppulas), whose territory known as Andhrakhandamandala extending from Godavari to Kalinga. His sway continued up to Simhachalam. Simhachalam inscription describes him as “Simhachaladi- Vindhyapada-pratisthapita-kirti-stambha” one who planted pillars of fame at Simhachalam and other places at the foot of the Vindhya mountains. The eastern campaigns of Anavema ends in 1375 AD.

Next he turned his attention towards west. Vijayanagara kings were gradually enchroaching upon Kondaveedu kingdom. besides Vijayanagara kings, the princess of Raju konda and Devarakonda also were forging ahead, then Anavema led his forces over Srisailam against Vijayanagara king and won a decisive victory. After that he turned his attention on Rajukonda and subdued them. His Srisailam record dated 1377 AD bares testimony to above conquest. Anavema, after concluding the conquest over his enemies, with much devotion a gift of bells(gaja-ghanta) to the Pancharama temples i.e. Amararama(Amaravathi), Daksharama, Ksirarama(Palakol), Kumararama(Samarlakot) and Bhimarama(Gunupudi)near Bhimavaram.

Anavema was the greatest of the reddy rulers of Kondaveedu. He assumed the title “mahaniyandhradesa pattabhiseka samvrta-mahabhagya” who had the great good fortune of being crowned king of the glorious Andhra country. He restored the loss sustained by the kingdom prior to his coronation and enhanced the glory by his conquest. In his time the power of Kondaveedu reached its zenith. It extended from Srisailam to the sea, and from Kandukuru to Simhachalam. He was eulogized as a just and righteous ruler he took delight in the company of great poets and pleased them with gifts. By conducting vasanthosavas and taking active part in them he was called vasantharaya (the king of spring).

VEERASIROMANDAPAM- In Srisailam temple buit by Anavemareddy with inscriptions denoting his victories

Kumaragiri reddy (1386 – 1402 AD)

Kumaragiri’s rule started after his uncle’s death, Anavema, in the year 1386 AD. Kumaragiri immediately after coming to throne appointed Katayavema reddy as his chief advisor, who is none other than his brother in law. Katayavema married Doddambika, daughter of Anavota, sister of Kumaragiri. The reign of Kumaragiri was a glorious chapter in the history of Reddy kings of Kondaveedu in many a respect. Under the leadership of katayavema as warrior minister made extensive campaigns in all directions which earned name and fame and gained honour and prestige for Kondaveedu among the neighboring countries. The kings suffered defeat in the hands of Katayavema included Vijayanagara, Rajukonda and Kalinga. Katayavema wore title ‘Katakasurakara’ (the plunderer of katak) by inducing defeat upon the Orrisa king.

While katayavema was extending the boarders of Kondaveedu kingdom, king Kumaragiri immersed in cultivating arts and letters. Kumaragiri was a staunch pattern of music and dance. Lakumadevi, a noted dancer, flourished in his court. It is said that she mastered the art of dance and won laurels for musical compositions in a thousand ways. Kumaragiri authored a book on natya namely ‘Vasantarajiyam’. He was acclaimed as vasanta raja. Katayavema also was an eminent scholar in Sanskrit and wrote a commentary upon the dramas of Kalidasa called ‘Kumaragirirajiyam’. During the reign of Kumaragiri famous business men like Devayasetty and his son Tippayasetty traded with Kondaveedu. They were known for their overseas trade and they used to supply a number of articles needed both in times of war and peace like weapons, horses and perfumes from different countries.

KUMARAGIRI REDDY with Court Dancer Lakumadevi

REDDY KINGDOM during Kumaragiri Reddy

Pedakomativema reddy (1402 – 1420 AD)

Pedakomativema succeeded to the throne as king of Kondaveedu in 1402AD. But the succession to the power seems to be not smooth. Pedakomativema was the son of Pedakomati reddy and grandson of Machareddy who was the elder brother of Prolayavema reddy. Coming to throne, Pedakomativema faced both internal and external struggles, internally he faced problems from Katayavema, externally from Vijayanagara kings and Recharla Padmanayakas. He, however successfully came out of these troubles and ruled up to 1420AD. He was a great warrior, a profound scholar, and also a poet. Right from beginning of his rule he strived hard to safeguard the interests of the Kondaveedu kingdom and to maintain the integrity and independence of the kingdom. Pedakomativema was the greatest of the royal poets of the reddy dynasty. He was very much proficient in both music and literature. He is the author of ‘Sahityachintamani’ in Sanskrit, a treatise on rhetoric, Sangitachintamani, a treatise on music, two commentaries; one on Sringaradeepika, the other Saptasatisaratika, the former is a commentary on Amarukasatak, and later on the Saptasati complied by Satavahana king Hala.

Vamanabhatta Bana was a Sanskrit poet, he was court poet of Pedakomativema, he wrote a gadyakavya namely ‘Vemabhoopalacharitam’ otherwise known as ‘Veeranarayancharitam’, it is the biography of Pedakomativema reddy

Srinatha was the great poet of this age, patronized by Pedakomativema. He was appointed as vidyadhikari at Kondaveedu. Srinatha visited Vijayanagara court of Devaraya1, defeated the Vijayanagara poet Goudadindimabhattu and was honored with the title of kavisarvabhauma(sovereign of poets). Of course, he visited many royal courts, finally he was patronized by Rajamahendravaram king Verabhadra reddy, where he wrote Bhimeswarapuranam and dedicated to his lord Verabhadra reddy.

Rachavema Reddy (1420 – 1424 AD)

Pedakomativema was succeeded by his son Rachavema his rule ended within 4 years i.e. 1420 to 1424 AD.

While katayavema was extending the boarders of Kondaveedu kingdom, king Kumaragiri immersed in cultivating arts and letters. Kumaragiri was a staunch pattern of music and dance. Lakumadevi, a noted dancer, flourished in his court. It is said that she mastered the art of dance and won laurels for musical compositions in a thousand ways. Kumaragiri authored a book on natya namely ‘Vasantarajiyam’. He was acclaimed as vasanta raja. Katayavema also was an eminent scholar in Sanskrit and wrote a commentary upon the dramas of Kalidasa called ‘Kumaragirirajiyam’. During the reign of Kumaragiri famous business men like Devayasetty and his son Tippayasetty traded with Kondaveedu. They were known for their overseas trade and they used to supply a number of articles needed both in times of war and peace like weapons, horses and perfumes from different countries.

PEDDAKOMATIVEMA REDDY

SCULPTURES AT KONDAVEEDU

PIllar Lantern in front of Janardhana Temple at Chundi

Pillar Lantern (Deepapu Sdhambham) in from of Janadhrana Temple at Chundi in Prakasam District, built by Mallareddy II son of Kandukuru Reddy king Sri Girireddy. Kandukuru Reddy kingdon was ruled by the successors of Mallareddy, brother of Prolayavemareddy which is a sub kingdom to Kondaveedu.

Nandi at Kondaveedu (Puttakota)- Beautifully ornamented sculpture from 14th century

Idols of Sitarama Lakshmana and Suryanarayana found near Kondaveedu Ghat Road in the year 2013

Lakshminarashimha temple in Kondaveedu Fort build in 14th Century

Masjid built in Kondaveedu fort during 17th century during Kutubsheahi period

SAJJA MAHAL BURUJU- One of the 23 burujus in Kondaveedu Fort

VEDDULACHERUVU – One of the 3 tanks built on the hill fort by Reddy Kings

DARGA in Kondaveedu Fort RGA in Kondaveedu Fort

Contact no: +91 9885502778 |kondaveedukingdom@gmail.com

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