A fort on a steep plateau like hill was the Daulatabad Fort in Aurangabad. Other than a faint outline, not much was visible from a distance. The fort sang its siren song and I was spellbound. I had a sudden urge to walk its highest ramparts.
Climbing up to the fort was not easy even though the path was well marked. It gradually inclined as it wound through the serene hillside. There was no serenading sound of silence. I instead had scores of noisy fellow tourists trudging along to keep me going. As the trail became more punishing, it took all of my steely resolve to keep pushing.
That was when my History lesson from school came swooshing back.
This was the same place that inspired Muhammad bin Tughlaq to move his capital from Delhi. Oh yes! He moved everyone too- men, women, young and old. Unfortunately, his plans for Daulatabad as a capital failed epically in a short time. I suppose as the ruler of India then, he could get away by snappishly ordering, “Pack up. We leave for Delhi, lock, stock and barrel.” And everyone travelled back from Maharashtra to the north once again. That was in 1327. Since then, Delhi has reigned supreme as the country’s capital.
Looking around, Daulatabad Fort was pretty spectacular in size and looks. It had a rough hewn, battle ready, impregnable quality.
There was a moat that was only visible when one climbed half way up the plateau. Rows of shiny canons overlooked from the heights. Dark maze like tunnels riddled the hillside. I saw one such dark opening but the squeaks and the squawks of the bats inside made me skip that .
Of course the blind turns, narrow passages and even narrower, steep staircases were perfect to halt any interloper.
Cut to many years later and yours truly was huffing and puffing and crawling her way to the very top. Those narrow, steep, crumbling steps were my nemesis.
Flushed face and totally out of breath, I made it to the summit. The valley laid stretched wide open as far as eyes could see. The outer fort walls snaked across the hillside towards the city where tiny roofs of houses gleamed like scattered Lego bricks. The sun was fading and the sky had taken a fiery orange hue. It was a staggering sight.
‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!’ Mary Poppins found me the perfect describing word.
Honestly, I didn’t fancy the march downhill. My legs were screaming already.
A gentle breeze ruffled my hair. Took me more than a few seconds to steel myself but I was in high spirits by the time I reached the car. My heart had swelled with happiness and I didn’t care for the sweat drying off my back.
I felt victorious like Caesar, “Veni, vidi, vici.”
I came, I saw, I conquered.