Salted history

I used to hate him. Hate him with the bottom of my heart. For what he did to his father. For what he did to his brothers. For what he did to many many thousands of people who he killed and mowed and so on.

Yet today, i want to see him. Kind of go stand where he lies. Its ironical. For my friends don’t want to go anywhere close. Not because they hate him as much.

But today to go close to him, you have to go to a small nondescript place. A place nondescript enough that without direction and desire to get there, missing it would be normal ! He perhaps had all of India under his thumbs. Palaces were built and minor empires destroyed with a casual wave of a hand.

And all who talked thus far, about him, talked with a sense of borrowed spite and frown. The eternal bad chap image stayed fixed. Today, the simplicity of what i hear moves me to think.

Today, another man gives us another angle:

Imagine being born in a royal family. Imagine seeing your head of state dad, spend crane heaps of government money on a tomb for his wife. Imagine you having consternation about it. Imagine having the resolve to fight for simplicity yet scale. Fight anybody.

From an aggressive neighbour to your own father. Imagine ruling the land with great simplicity and methodical precision. Imagine living a simple frugal life when surrounded by royal splendour.

Imagine stitching caps and writing the holy scripture. The proceeds of which, you mandate, is all that would go to making of your own tomb ! I

Imagine, first of all, mandating that there wont be a significant tomb, despite being the emperor of India ! Imagine Aurangazeb.

As the shudder runs down the spine all the way to the left toe, he adds. “History is written by the victor. Its never factual”. The tourist guide moves me.

In some time we reach Khuldabad. In what appears to be another mosque in a predominantly muslim neighbourhood, Aurangazeb’s lies at the feet of his guru. No grand structure. Simple and quiet.

The Taj loses sheen in the mind. Think of it this way: Shah Jahan built the Taj out of government money and emptied the state coffers. His son threw him in jail ruled the land ably and died a simple man.

Well, i dont know what the truth is. None of us will never ever know. But then, i have resolved to read history with pitchers of salt by the side.

And as Dylan says, “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie”

Sugar Circles !

Somewhere between Shirdi and Aurangabad we see sugar territory. They see him. Slightly decked up. With an assortment of colour threads and beads on his forehead and frontage ! Visitors they are. To the rural plains !

He walks around. In circles. Almost in synchrony to the command he nonchalantly receives from a man standing afar.

“There are new people who have come’. The man seems to say. Our protogonist must commence his walk again. On the beaten path. In the much treaded circle. He walks. He walks the rounds. There are levers at work. Circles of wood that spin. Juice that’s made. Raw. Sweet. And complete.

The visitors sit there. In row of chairs that have been held to a straight line by a rope. Much to the awe of the city siders. Omni present simple solutions stump them.

They havent seen anything like this before in big city Mumbai or wherever they came from. The sugar cane juice disappears from the glass tumblers like money in an inflation prone economy !

And him… Job done. He looks at the visitors. Almost asking if he must walk the path again. For them to soothe parched throats with more juice that was sitting pretty inside the cane !

They nod. He walks again. In that circle ! All for sugar & juice !

Sugar circles ! Ah ! The story of our lives.

Reeking of history !

Aurangabad is like any other bustling Indian city. Crowded roads replete with rushing motorists and fearless pedestrians. Cops bulging in the middle and signals that work on their whims. Occasionally.

Hoardings that occupy all available air space. Large and small format stores existing side by side like India and Pakistan. Uneasy yet accepting. Of course, this is Maharashtra and Shivaji on a horseback is present too.

Yet, the streets of Aurangabad are paved with many thousands of years of history. The caves and the forts stand mute testimony to that. Situated bang in the middle of the country, it was as our guide told us, the gateway to the south. Or North ! Depending on where you came from.

But have you seen a stone base structure on a road divider like this ? Well, i haven’t ! Quite a structure isn’t it ? Wonder what purpose it serves. But its made of solid stone. (A walk in the morning was undertaken to ‘feel up’ this structure ! )

Carved out stone as part of a road divider is something that begets attention easily.

Have you seen something like this ? Perhaps you have. I havent.

My own demented hypothesis is that…this is about making a point. About every corner and bend in the road reeking of history !?!


Ellora diary !

Straight to the point : The magnificence of Ellora must be seen to be experienced.

Just imagine carving a huge temple out of sheer rock and mountain. Built in the 5th / 6th century ! When there was no 3D animation, double certified architects, safety standards or hopeless bureaucracy in the name of standard operating procedures!

The Kailash Temple. With Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Double the size of the Greek Pantheons.
The entire structure was carved out of one rock. Top down. Over 5-6 generations.
Would you want more proof to believe that we have indeed regressed ?
The ‘Glory Post’. The solidity of the lines, the curves and the majesticity against the blue backdrop.
Indeed a glorious post !

The structure that was created back then, stands the test of time. Till date. There are so many photographs that sit in the confines of the hard disk that ‘a tough time selecting the ones to post’ is a statement reeking of modesty or falsehood or idiocy !

The Ramayana told in sculpted forms. Perhaps the earliest forerunners of cartoon channels !

Amazing is not the word ! What else would you say if the tourist guide almost had to nudge once in 5 minutes to close mouths. Mouths that often veered to a state of perpetual open mouthed gaze !

Buddha and the beauty of the carving ! Blood numbing !

A row of pillars. For decoration rather than support ! Decoration ! hmm !

Egyptian / Chinese images ! Thousands of years ago, the Chinese had landed ! Trade flourished.
How must life have been ?

Just imagine !

Imagine a temple like this 1500 years ago ! Imagine it being built over six generations. With the barest of the tools ! Picture it being revered. Think of it being vandalised by invaders galore. Visualise it being left to be a resting place for shepherds and other grazers to tie their cattle for a couple of centuries ! And then of course becoming a world heritage sight !

A pillar ! With carving.

Now of course tourists gather in hordes. Clicking snaps amidst endless chatter. Some of them loudly giving out their versions of history. Yet others sitting on the laps of ‘Gods’ for photographs on new digital cameras. Yet others running behind other foreign tourists.

A minority just staring in open mouthed awe. The caves don’t seem to care. They seem just grin and bear. They have done so for hundreds of centuries.

Its a must go place people. Aurangabad is a must visit city. Phew.

More coming.

‘Excuse Please’ Update !

We took off to Shirdi. As we were driving through the interiors of rural Maharashtra, we found ourselves a hundred odd kilometers from Aurangabad and a day to spare. To cut a short story, shorter, the car’s wheels rolled into Aurangabad. On a whim !

If Ellora took our breath away, Aurangabad with its history has a impregnable charm to itself ! There is so much of history coursing the soil of this city that could well take a lifetime to comprehend completely !

The calf muscles are sore of alternating between the clutch, the brake and the accelerator ! But then, there are a thousand plus snaps in the camera. Hundreds of stories to share and thoughts to write about and tips to give !

The good roads, some prodding and constant encouragement from the good souls that shared the car made me ponder a ‘travel blog’ aloud.
The sound that came about from the missus face palming caused a jolt to the Jap engine ! That notwithstanding, watch this space.

For now, the calf muscles are threatening secession from the body, if they are not given rest.
So..Excuse me please !