Lets face it, most of us had not heard the name of this place before the movie-Rang de Basanti made it to the top of the box office hits. Unfortunately i had not heard of it till i made it to the college(3 years after the movie was released). But it seems i was rewarded for my ignorance. I am not really fond of historical places.They simply bore me to death. Its actually pretty ironical since my dad,my mum even my brother are masters in history and have gone to teach at the university level. My only connection appeared to have been snapped at the teander age of 15 once i made it through my 10th without flunking in history. But strangely enough, i would listen to the stories behind every historical event like cartoon show of a 10 year old. I owe that completely to my mom who narrated me bed time stories spiced up with actual historical events. It was only when i made it to the Scindia School that i could finally get close to the beauty of our own history. The Scindia School is situted at the medieval fort on a hill overlooking the city of Gwalior.It was a breathtaking place whose beauty i could only partially appreciate when i was there. But forgive my naievity,i was only kid back then. Once i made it to my college days and landed in Jaipur(another historically famous city) i could see at the Nahargarh fort with admiration and awe.
My first visit to this place might seem to my readers as a little mis-adventurous,but i must ask for forgiveness beforehand as i was in world which only a fresher to college away from his parents supervision can understand. It was this one night when my flatmates back then, had got completely smashed, in crude terms-drunk to the hilt. Now logically they should have kept it cool and simply slept,or better still thrown up and started drinking again. But they were a different lot all together. They wanted to enact the scene of Rang de Basanti from the top of the kund in Nahargarh. I am a tetoteller . I was sober enough to understand the suicidal trip they were onto. Its a pain in the ass to make a drunk understand basic physics, so i tried psychology. Once you get high-spirited, you seem to think of all the drunkards around you as your Bhai(brother).I convinced one of my drunk-bhai and to let me the honour of riding while he sat as pillon. So all the 5 insane bhai’s and one idiot non-bhai zipped off on the deserted roads of jaipur towards Nahargarh.
I did not expect what i was about to experience.The route towards Nahargarh takes you from the Jal-Mahal which shimmers under the night sky. The bike i was riding was Karizma-225cc. The route was a winding one and it took some skill to control the twists and turns.There was greenery on the either side of the hill as we pierced through the road uphill. It felt like as if we were actually discovering this place in pitch darkness of the night. The single beam of the bike made it feel like as if the path awaited our arrival. The sheer ambience made the valley appear both creepy and simply magical. I am not much of a rider,but the joy i got from simply climbing this hill side is hard to forget. The road rushes too meet the tyre underneath as you brush against the overgrown bushes on the sides. Under the moonlight and the sound of buzzing 3 bikes we reached the top in 40 minutes from our home in Malviya Nagar. There was no-one else at the top. i could easily identify the place where the scene in the movie was shot, even a 10 year old could tell that the actual shot must have taken a helluva cleaning of the face and some massive facelifting. The water was not only very shallow but very dirty.The green algae which floated on top could have made a good recipy for fear factor parcipants to dare step into. My dear Bhai’s were participants of fearless-factor that night. They had a point to prove and a jump to make. It took me 15 minutes of hysterical imploring not to try this out. To my relief, they relented.
The view from the top is beautiful. The wind was strong enough to enact the scence from Titanic, only if one could dare kissing a drunk-dude. The shimmering lights of the city streched up till the horizon. The gradual cuts of the Arravali traced the night sky at a distance. i felt light. i stood there mersmerised. it was pointless even to say how breathtaking it looked. I was secretly thanking my inaberrated friends for their stupidity. I think the thought was a little premature since it suddenly overtook them with the desire to barge into the Fort gate which was locked to keep people like us away who can actually piss over entire restoration. Some people proudly leave their names etched like invading force from the Land of Morons. But how dare a 20 feet gate keep 5 drunkards away from achieving their noble cause.They simply broke the smaller doors latch which was the part of the bigger one. We sneaked into the realm of the unknown ready to run if anyone came chasing us. It was just too dark to make out anything apart from the sillouete of the parapett walls and some buildings which stood at a distance . As we crept a little closer, we could hear some rustling at a distance. One of the guys,Raj, stopped dead in his tracks. He raised his hand to motion everyone to keep it quiet as he moved in the direction if the sound. I think the problems with these kinds of horror-film-setting is that too many Indian movies have a dead old women in precisely these situations. And no matter how hard you try having happy thoughts, its the stupid child in you squeals like a pig out of fear. But my brave friend Raj inched a little closer unlike our over-worked heart and shaking legs. We saw light move around the balcony.Thats all was required to drain all alcohol out of their body. we ran like mad men. some one fell. As i stopped to pick him up,i tried not to look back back. but i could feel someone standing in the balcony with a small lantern. The chill ran down my spine like as if someone had actually grabbed me in darkness. Picking my friend up, i ran like never before. It might simply have been a gaurd, but to our minds it was impossible to accept our sheer stupidity. How could we resist the temptation making this the story of lifetime when we saw the ghost at the fort.
The journey down the hill felt like a victorious return. But i must caution my readers, it is dumb to think that the way to the fort is simply fun. It is dangerous and one shuld be careful. After that ,i have been to the fort both in light of the day and to see the sunrise. i had seen the sun rising from the parapett walls of the Scindia School too, but this was in a league of its own. I had gone there when the dawn had just broken the first light of red hue across the sky. The climb to the fort was even more beautiful this time with my love, my own bike and two of my friends. There was a portion of the wall which had fallen off. It gave us the view towards the sunrise coming behind the Arravali range. It was poetic. I am not a morning person. But if i could just see this view everyday, i swear i can go to sleep at 8 just to watch the sun gradually change the colours of the sky as it turns from pink to orange and finally yellow. This is the place for camera and your girlfriend, if she is not a sleepy head. I could hear the noise slowly increasing from the city as it woke from the deep slumber.
The next visit happened when a really close friend came from Delhi. We went there in the broad day light. There was heavy traffic coming down hill and couple of buses inching uphill.It was too narrow for two lane traffic moving smoothly. And i could feel my aching ankles begging the gear box to work on its own. There is a small restaurant called Durg which also serves cold beer and some over priced meals.There were some people who had hukkah with them. Some played the dhinchak bollywood number. Some had simply come hoping this place might rub off some cool movie attitude onto them. Thank god i had come when the humanity kept their idiocity just to their dreams. And to my horror the broken wall was also repaired ,and the view to the city was blocked. One must see the interiors of the fort and how symmetrically it had been designed. Lookin at some designs and the view you can only wish to be born as a royalty in the era when Rajputana stood at its height of glory and splendour.