SURROUNDED by a deep artificial moat, the 16thcentury Vellore Fort dominates the heart of this town. An impressive example of military architecture, the fort has a turbulent history. This formidable structure has withstood many battles, including an ill-fated mutiny led by the son of Tipu Sultan in 1806 against the British East India Company. Today, part of the fort houses some government offices, including the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), district courts and a prison. A museum within has a small but good collection of historical objects found in the area.

The only major structure to survive in the fort is the magnificent Jalakanteshvara Temple, constructed by the Nayakas, governors of the region under the Vijayanagar kings, in the mid-16th century. This Shiva temple is located near the fort’s northern wall. It is surrounded by a low-lying boundary wall and contains a tank and subsidiary shrines. In the early 20th century, the temple was used as a garrison and its linga was removed from the sanctum. This was reinstated in 1981, after which worship recommenced. In the outer courtyard is the ornate Kalyana Mandapa. Its pillars are carved with magnificent horses and yali riders.Vellore is renowned for its prestigious Christian Medical College, set up in 1900 by the American Dr Ida Scudder. This instiution specializes in research on tropical diseases.

ENVIRONS: Arcot, 27 km (17 miles) east of Vellore, is best known for its flamboyant nawabs  and their resistance to the British and French forces in the late 18th century. Some derelict tombs and a Jami Masjid are all that remain from that period.

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