"Penukonda" means a big hill. Vira Virupanna Udaiyar, a prince of the glorious Vijayanagar dynasty built the Penukonda Fort. According to history, the Penukonda fort was made the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire for a short time. Inscriptions at Kallodi in Mysore reveal that the rulers had a channel dug to bring water from different sources to Penukonda. The inscriptions also describe a moat filled with crocodiles.
You can still see the ruins of the fort on the way to the SEDS farm and you can also see the relationship between stone fortifications and water still being maintained today. The Vijayanagar rulers used water to protect their fort, SEDS uses fortifications to protect and harvest water.
SEDS has constructed walls and stone dams to trap and channel rain water from the watershed areas of the hills of Penukonda. Water that would otherwise have run down the hill, wiping away fertile top soil is now channeled and directed into catchment areas where it can be used. SEDS currently works in 220 watershed villages, helping them harvest, utilize and preserve this most precious resource. The water table, which was low down at 50 feet today stands at an average of 8 feet.
As a result, Anantapur has gone from being the second-most drought prone district in India to the green-topped land that it is today.
[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS' 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]