Our Heritage

Blog about Heritage, Monuments, Ruins and much more…

Archive for the month “August, 2008”

Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh

I have seen many forts including the Forts of Delhi, Kangra, Agra, Hyderabad and Siliserh (Alwar). But this one in Gwalior almost took my breath. In my entire life, only two forts have made me hold my breath and praise silently. These are Forts of Gwalior and Golconda (Hyderabad).

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Gwalior_Fort_StairsI went to Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh – India) in 2004 or 2005. We were 5 guys, on a college trip, there to participate in a National Level College Fest. We got time and thought it might be a good idea to check out the famous Gwalior fort. We took a taxi, and he took us to the gates of fort. The taxi driver asked if we want a tour guide. We said no. We entered the gate and found ourselves at the bottom of thousands of meter long steep and tight road. On both sides of this road, were very high walls, fro m where any you can attack any enemy, without being hurt. Anyway, we started marching and continued to do so for nearly 1/2 hour. All we could see were huge walls of fort on both sides but the path was not ending.

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Finally we reached another huge gate, which was having very nice blue paintings all over it. There was a big pit near the gate and a wooden plank was kept to cross it. When we entered that gate, we found a huge compound and on our right side, was standing the mighty fort with blue painting all over it. (see first picture of this post).

GurudwaraBandiChhod We were now so tired, that all we wanted was a place to rest. Then suddenly my attention went to the White Building on my left. Oh great, it was Gurudwara Bandi Chhor. This place has a very inspiring history. In 1619 AD, Sixth Guru of Sikhs were taken prisoner by the king of Gwalior. But soon, the king was so impressed by his talks, that he decided to release him. But Gurujee refused. He said, that there are 52 other kings of neighboring states, who are imprisoned in this fort. Release everyone. The King of Gwalior said, I will not release others. But, those who can hold the onto your gown (Chowla), can go. Then gurujee immediately ordered his sikhs to prepare him a huge gown. Once it was ready, Guru wore it and all 52 kings got space to hold the gown. This was the day of Diwali. From that very day, Every sikh celebrated Diwali as “Bandi Chhor Divas” (Day of liberation/freedom of Prisoners).

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So we reached this nice gurudwara and sat inside the hall for nearly 15-20 mins. When we were back to normal, we proceeded to have Lungar at gurudwara. It was truly refreshing.

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Then we moved to see the actual fort. Some guy near entrance asked us if we wanted a tour guide. We refused! When we were entering the fort, The gatekeeper asked us where is our tour guide, and we said we don’t need any. But by this time, we started thinking what is so special about tour guides. Anyway, we entered the fort. There was this nice big porch and stairs going down. We went downstairs and found another staircase to reach the second level of basement. We kept on finding stairs and kept on going down till we reached 4th level. The Gwalior fort has 6-7 levels of basement. Now we were standing in the Prison Room. A very foul smell was coming. It was total dark and we were lost. We tried every gate and window. But every time, we ended up in reaching same prison room. There were small holes in roof and floor. We could see other basement levels. But we were not able to go there. Bats were flying on our head and they were scaring us like anything. Then we heard a tourist group and ran towards them. Their tourist guide was explaining about the fort and told that it is designed in such a way that prisoners can never get out of this level. Levels below this are even ferocious and dangerous. We just walked behind this tour group, came out and ran out of the fort. We didn’t even bothered to see the rest of Fort. We just reached the exit, took a taxi, headed for railway station, and took a train to Agra.

Gwalior_Fort_Foot MyFriends

But I must say…

Hats off to Architects of Gwalior Fort.

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McLeodganj, Dharamshala (Kangra-Himachal)

TibetFlag McLeodganj, named after David McLeod, teh governor general of Punjab (British-India), is house of the exiled Tibetan Government and is blessed by the presence of H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (See my post on Dalai Lama’s Residence). This place is also sometimes called Little Lhasa.

This place is so peaceful and energizing, that you will never feel like leaving it. There are lot of Tibetans and Europeans (mostly Israelis) in here. Nearby Villages are populated with Europeans. I have heard that there are villages nearby McLeodganj, where lot of Drugs and illegal stuff is available. I don’t know if it is true or a rumor.

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I like this place so much that I have been there so many times. Luckily, my father designed couple of shops and restaurants at this place. This helped me make dozens of trips to McLeodganj in past 5-6 years.

It is situated near Dharamshala. Infact, sometimes, it is also called Upper Dharamshala. There is a small road, from where, McLeodganj is only 2 Km from main Dharamshala market. This road is very steep and reaches the Dalai Lama Temple. The other way is lot Stjohnswildernesslonger, but safer. This road reaches the other end of McLeodganj.

But this route, the longer one, is much better as you get a chance to see more scenic views. A very nice place on way is the St. John’s Church. This church, located in Forsythganj, popularly called Church of St. John in the Wilderness, is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British viceroy of India (19th Century).

This church is in a really peaceful place hidden under trees. Its view from road is so magical that you can’t resist visiting it.

McLeodganj_Street2The main street of McLeodganj is crowded and loaded with Tibetan shops. You will find Monkalmost every Tibetan handicraft item and Tibetan/Buddhist souvenirs. Besides, everywhere you will see people in traditional maroon dress of Buddhists everywhere.

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McLeodganj_Street4One must visit this place for peace of mind. There are lot other places to visit nearby. If you read this blog, you will find that most of my posts are from Dharamshala, and McLeodganj.

Do check out…

Murthal, Sonepat (Haryana)

I went to this nice peaceful place near Murthal in Sonepat, Haryana. This is a nice “Ashram” slightly inside the National Highway 1 (GT Road). The greenery and peacefulness of this place simply cast its spell on me. Here are some pictures of same…

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Dalai Lama Temple, McLeodganj

HH_DalaiLamaIt was my pleasure, that I got a chance to visit His Holiness Dalai Lama’s temple at McLeodganj. I have been to Dharamshal and McLeodganj many times. But I went to temple only twice. I hope to see His Holiness some day as well.

When I went there in 2007 with my friend Vinay, we decided to stop for a cup of coffee outside the temple. When we finished our coffee, we saw hundreds of  Buddhist monks coming out of the temple. We felt so sorry because we had missed a chance to see the ceremony and wasted 30 minutes. We could have probably seen Dalai Lama as well.

Here are some pictures from that mighty place…

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There is this nice museum outside the temple. This museum contains many artifacts and literature from Tibet. The walls of this museum are covered with banners telling the sad story of how China attacked on Tibet and conquered the land.

Tibet was having very small force. These peace loving people were forced to fight against huge army of china. Then the Tibetan government, including Dalai Lama, were forced to leave their homeland. Indian government then gave them place in Dharamshala, and today, this place is as peaceful as heaven.

A Must Visit Place…

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