GANDIKOTA FORT

In India, somewhere about 15 km from Jammalamadugu in the Kadapa district, in Andhra Pradesh, there lies a village called Gandikota. It lies on the right bank of the river Pennar.  This river creates a deep gorge while it runs through the ancient red granite rocks of the Erramala hills, whole big bolders of them, a magnificent sight!  About seven years ago I was there. It was new years day of 2010 and together with some friends we visited the fort there and the temples and mosque all well maintained ruins now. Gandikota Fort was constructed around the 12th century during the Pemmasani Dynasty, and became one of the most prominent forts in the country. Gandi is the Telegu name for gorge and the village and Fort got their name as a result of that. There was quite a bit to see at Gandikota, most immediately when you enter the area there is the impressive ancient Jamia Masjid mosque with its beautiful architecture, its elegant arches. Then there is the granary which is a very robust and dark building, very cool inside while intense heat outside, only air vaults letting in a tiny ray of sunlight.  Before long the eye catches another interesting building, this is the ruin of the Ranganatha Swamy Temple, very impressive with its magnificent carvings and pillars. The carvings depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are also the ruins of the Madhavaraya Temple and some other ruins in the vicinity.

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The rock structures of the gorge are magnificent, the red granite majestic in huge blocks precariously grace the tops of the gorge, you have to climb over them to get to the edge and see the view. Granite is an igneous rock made up of a variety of mineral, like quartz, feldspar, mica, and hornblende. The composition of small amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other mineral is what gives granite its red colour.

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I spent many months in this vicinity over several years but alas it is now seven years ago I was there last.  This visit was one of the outstanding natural and archaeological beautiful places that I visited in Andhra Pradesh, but there are many more. It’s been too long since my last visit to India, me thinks.

HAGAR QIM TEMPLES

Well worth to go see, and very interesting during a visit to Malta are the Hagar Qim temples in the SW of the island. It is a well worked archaeological site, some of the features are copies and the originals can be found in the archaeological museum in Valetta.

I always try and get the ‘feel’ of the place when visiting an ancient site, but here I felt nothing special.  The site is very close to the sea, and very windy . There is a lot to learn about these megalithic temples, the site consists of a group of monumental megalithic buildings dating back to the late Neolithic period around 5,000 years ago. As stated in a leaflet available at the visitor centre, there is little know about these buildings. I for one wonder why there were altars, what were they used for? Another question is whether the courts had corbelled roofs, which many think, it is suggested that they were made of successive rings of megaliths the way that the roof of the New-Grange passage grave was built back in Ireland. There must be a connection between all these ancient sites.  It is so interesting, there is so much to learn about the past!  We visited the Mnajdra Temples after this one, but that is for another blog write-up.

'Porthole' doorway
‘Porthole’ doorway

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Two mushroom shaped altars, and the other a carved altar

On this slab on the photo to the right, the outline of two pairs of legs can be seen, belonging it seems to some obese figures it is thought, perhaps some goddesses?

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Spiral motifs
Spiral motifs

 

AN INTERESTING DIG IN SKIBBEREEN

We recently had an archaeological dig here at Skibbereen in West Cork. The work was undertaken by students of the university of Maryland in US, under the supervision of their professor Stephen Brighton and Drew Webster.
Seems that during the 19th century there was a lot of activity going on at the site of the  Rock, which towers above the town of Skibbereen behind the town hall and the houses of North street and High street. It was called Windmill hill. Prior to the structures hewn out from the rocks being used as houses, six of them, the place was probably used for industry, perhaps related to the windmill. The houses would probably have had grass roofs at first Dr S.Brighton told me, you can see where timbers had been inserted into the rock. It’s a very interesting site. By the time I reached it and made photos, the students were filling in the sights again after six weeks of excavations. Artefacts were found at the site, like potsherds and other bits and pieces. Please visit the Facebook site for more photos and information. And also the WordPress.com site at:
Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora and Modern Ireland

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Where the dig is situated above the town of Skibbereen

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Seen here are what is thought to be indentations where timber would have been fitted, probably for industrial purposes when these sites were used previous to when people were living here in the 19th century.

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More indentations seen in the rocks and pieces hewed out.  This site has been filled in again by the students.

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The type of rock found here, slate or shale.  And students at work.

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More sites of the houses, there were six in total.  The floors of the houses consisted of flat rock, and a drain would have been hacked out in the ground to allow water running from the rock behind to drain away from the house.  It must have been uncomfortable living quarters.  Who lived there?  It’s quite an exposed area of Skibbereen, but high up and far away from the flooding which sometimes afflicted the town.  Then again as there was a windmill a few meters away from this site, there must have been work available for people.  A lane (Windmill lane) is there still today and one wonders if this lane linked up to other boreens (Irish for lane) in the area.  The houses were inhabited at the time of the Irish potato famine 1847-49, one can only wonder at what tragedy played out here among these rocks as the famine claimed so many lives here.

It’s all very interesting and I will hope to find out more.

PLACE WHERE THE WINDMILL USED TO STAND - ON THE ROCK

This overgrown site is where the windmill would have stood.  It is only a few meters away from the ruins of the houses.