The King-sized Fort of Kondapalli
Kondapalli Fort or as the locals call it, Kondapalli Kota in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh is a reminder of the dramatic power struggles that the region once saw for the control of these fertile lands.
Spread over an area of 18 sq. km., the foundation of the fort was laid by the Reddy dynasty about 650 years ago in the 14th century.
Founded by Prolaya Vema Reddy, the Reddys ruled coastal and central Andhra for over a hundred years from 1325 to 1448 and were known for their fort building skills.
After the Reddys came the Gajapatis, the Qutubshahi rulers, the Mughals, the Nizams and finally the British troops who took over the fort and set up their military garrison here in 1767.
Since the fort has passed through so many royal dynasties which influenced it in its own way, the architecture here is a curious hybrid of styles like Persian, Bahamani and Mughal.
This spectacular structure has three entry gates, first is the Golconda Darwaza which lies near Jaggayyapeta town, the second is a much smaller gate near Kondapalli village, and the third is the main gate called Dargah Darwaza which is built with a single block of granite.
One of the most striking parts is the palace with its durbar hall or the nartakashala where music and dance performances were held.
On its run down walls, you can still see the ornate carvings that once adorned the place.
Then is the Gajashala, which derives its name from the Gajapati ruler who used it as his court. Interestingly though, it is commonly believed to have been stable for elephants.
Within, you can also find a large and centrally located jail as well as an escape route which are stark reminders of how even amidst the luxury a ruler has, he can never let his guard down.
When the fort was taken over by the British, they ran a military school inside until 1859. An English barrack is still standing in the fort area, which has eight large rooms, apart from a house in an annex.
Though large parts of the region were destroyed over time, what remains still speaks volumes about what life may have once been like here. The only reminder of the old days is the toy town where artisans came and settled 400 years ago.