-Get up. It is already 6.
I pushed my wife vigorously so that she doesn’t sleep any more. I didn’t know whether my mobile alarm didn’t work or I overslept. Luckily I got up this time else we would have been late. Packing was done the previous night and there was nothing much to do this morning except taking our bath and preparing the baby for the journey.
Our cab came at 8 am. This visit was planned one month back through a travel agent in Aurangabad. This was Rs. 3500 package for the whole day. The package included a non a/c Indica for the entire day (12 hours) and trips to Daulatabad fort in the morning and Ellora in the evening. Both these places are in Aurangabad around 120 KM from Shirdi. Ajanta is another 115 KM further away. Since Aurangabad comes in the middle, I had no option but to make the tour plan like this to shorten our overall travel. We left our luggage in the car during these sightseeing and never bothered about them until we reached the Ajanta resort.
It was very difficult for us to find a snacks vendor as we were travelling by the highway. Finally after one hour drive I saw a street vendor and asked the driver to stop to have our breakfast. It was already 9 and we desperately needed some snacks before we move on. Jayeeta’s stock of snacks was dwindling fast and we wanted to keep them safe for the last day.
He had very few varieties to offer. I saw Vada Pav and tea and that was enough. After all when in Maharastra you need to check out different Pav varieties. The Vada Pav was hot and delicious. I offered tea and snacks to the driver as well as he seemed to be hungry. By this time I knew that he is Ilyas and lives in Aurangabad.
Ilyas was driving at a constant speed avoiding all road craters and maneuvering the little cab well. He seemed to be very focused in his work. I didn’t feel like disturbing him either. It soon became a very boring and monotonous journey as there was no great view on this road.
Finally Ilyas broke the silence –
-Sir, aap Daulatabad fort jana chahete hain?
-Haan..kiun? I asked, surprised with this question.
-Udhar 2 KM upar uthna padta hai. Gaadi nehin jata. Aap ko bachha le kar uthna parega.
-No problem. We will see what to do.
-But this is a roundabout way to reach Ellora.
-No problem. I said. Let’s decide after reaching the fort.
-Why don’t you go to Ellora first, that is nearer?
-No no…I have already made the plan like this and informed your agency. I don’t want to change anything now. This time I was really irritated.
I was worried that he is planning to save some time and fuel by making hurry. However, I was very clear when I made the plan and negotiated the pricing based on this. There was no point in negotiating further. I didn’t want to spoil my Ellora visit by visiting there in the morning and missing out the opportunity to take some nice snaps.
He stopped directly at the parking area of the fort. Some guides approached us but I preferred not to take one. Jayeeta will anyway have to take rest with Piklu and they will not be able to travel. Paying a guide anywhere from 200 to 500 seemed to be an extra expense for me. I wanted to depend on information written at different sites.
As we crossed the parking area we got the first glimpse of the fort wall. This is the palace in ‘City of Prosperity’ as the meaning of ‘Daulatabad’ stands for in Hindi. History says that this city was built as the capital of the ‘Tughlaq Dynasty’. Md. Bin Tughlaq once brought people from Delhi to this small city and wanted to make this the capital city. Unfortunately they had to leave this place in two years for water shortage. The most of the earlier city is now deserted and this reduced to a village.
Some of the ancient texts found about this fort categorize this fort as ‘misra durg’ (mixed fort). This is seen as combination of a mountain fort, God’s fort and land fort. The fortification walls were built in different periods. Hence, the touch of different styles of architecture is evident everywhere.
The fort is surrounded from the outside by a wall three miles long at the foothills. I came to know that the wall is called Mahakot which is now the boundary of the fort. It was difficult to believe but there was another outer wall called Amberkot covering the Daulatabad city. Mahakot has eight gates to enter the fort. After these gates there is a deep waterbody (moat). I wasn’t sure if the kings used to have crocs in the moat. There is only one small bridge to cross the moat and after this is a pitch dark zig-zag path called Andhari.
I reached till the moat and was hardly in a position to go further. I came to know from the returning tourists that the original fort (the mountain fort) is still 400 steps away and I didn’t have interest to climb the stairs any more. It was already 12:30 and I realized that it was late for visiting Ellora.
I came back to a huge canon (called Mendha Tope) kept nearby and took some memorable pics. The canon is huge and the rare end is shaped like a ram’s head. There are some beautiful carvings on the canon. I was not sure why a canon needed to be so beautiful when it was made to only kill people. This canon used to be mounted on a pivot so that it could be rotated freely. However, it is kept beside the pivot now. The canon is kept in an open area and the front side is completely open and the view till the nearest city was very clear. One can be very sure that even the nearest city was in its range.
It was time to say good bye to the fort and the history of Daulatabad. The design, architecture and the military tactics used to build this fort made it almost invincible. Even the mountain around the fort was chiseled to make climbing up the hill for any side impossible for the intruders.
While coming out we wanted to spend some more time and the complex of Bharat Mata mandir was the best for that. The actual complex starts above the ground level after a few steep steps. The area below is surrounded by trees. This is the most calm and quiet place we have seen in the fort. We spent good one hour in the cool breeze under a tree. It felt like all our strains were gone in no time. Jayeeta fed our child in the meantime.
This temple seemed to be a very good spot for lovers as well. People coming to see the fort hardly visit this temple.
We really enjoyed our stay in the fort as we could feel the history very easily. In fact I was amazed to touch so many historical objects. The canons that were used to win battles, the garden where the sultans made love or the water-body where the royal family members used to take bath all were live history to us. It was only made more evident with the inscriptions kept near each monument. We could make out many things ourselves. We really didn’t need any guide for help.
The main entry road to the fort is heavily broken and dangerous, even if you walk alone. Everywhere on this road sign of ruin and destruction was prominent. Part of which could easily be attributed to natural cause like rain rather than any war or historical means. This is a sure case of lack of preservation effort by the govt. or may be they want to keep history alive and natural by keeping the ruins as is.
We came out of the fort after two hours to have lunch. Ilyas took us to a nearby roadside restaurant. But we wanted to have our lunch in a decent hotel..so we headed for Hotel Kailas in Ellora.
I was thrilled by the first site of the hotel. Feluda’s ‘Kailase Kelnkari’ was shot here. From the time I saw the Bengali movie, I always wanted to visit this place. It reminded me of some dialogues from Feluda while we were heading to the caves.