Today I felt wonderful as if I have accomplished something significant – feeling this way after a long time. This was after I completed the trek/climb to the top of the Sankagiri Fort in Salem District. It took me about 75 minutes to reach the top – a height of 2300 feet. Since it is a pandemic out there, and we had gone on an afternoon on a weekday I saw only a few others inside the fort – a group of young college students, a couple and a solo traveller. The fort is open for all and has no entry fee, which translates to having no security guards around to help you and having no facilities inside. Being winter (December) I sweated less, in summer it would have been more demanding.
History of Sankagiri aka Sankari Fort:
Wikipedia says Sankagiri Fort (சங்ககிரி மலைக்கோட்டை) was built at various times, it existed before the 15th century and was held by the Vijayanagar empire, Tipu Sultan and the British. Dheeran Chinnamalai (தீரன் சின்னமலை), in whose honour, state buses were run by Tamil Nadu Government was hanged by the British in this fort.
What to see here?
There is nothing significant to see here, other than a big temple (which was closed) at the foot of the hill and an abandoned Sri Anjaneya Temple at the very top. You should visit here only for the trek and to see a few ruins from the old fort wall and moat.
The trek to the summit:
The trek of about 2300 feet, taking about one-and-half to two hours, was strenuous and not easy, yet doable, in most stretches, there are no proper steps or laid paths. A water bottle with you is highly recommended; Please don’t take any other eatables or bags with you as there are a lot of monkey tribes roaming around; Mobile coverage is available throughout. As I said above there are no basic facilities inside. You are likely to meet a few fellow climbers and the goat-rearers. The entire fort was kept reasonably clean with no visible garbage or plastic wastes. A pond on the mid-way was stinking with heavy algae growth.
My encounter with a monkey:
I had an interesting experience while coming down. After reaching the summit, I took my phone out of my pocket for a selfie when one adult monkey made eye contact with me, till then while there were several dozens of them on the way up, no monkey bothered with me (obviously I was not a V.I.P.), I ignored this one and continued my walk down. The monkey kept following me at a safe distance, it was strictly following the COVID-19 protocol of 6-feet, I acted smart by not turning back and looking at it. After about 10 minutes of walk, I stopped at a point to catch my breath. The monkey overtook me and blocked (or it felt like that to me) my way, I waited, stopped making any movements, tried my best to hide my fear and avoided looking directly in its eyes. No reaction from the monkey. So I murmured the Hanuman Chants I know and made the bold act of moving, the monkey hesitated for a moment, kept following me for a few more yards, I increased my pace of walking and after a few moments I lost track of it.
An elderly goat-rearer I met on the way down said there are nine of them who come every day with their goats who feast on the greenery all the way – this man comes at 1 PM and stays in the hill till 3 PM.
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