Travelling through History Lane

Hello Readers,

Welcome to the first post of the Travelling through History Lane series. Today, I take you to places less travelled along the ever changing geographical landscape that we call our country, now just before you dismiss this as one of those tourist-y I’m-going-to-rub-in-your-face-all-the-cool-places-I-know-of kind of posts, this one’s actually different.

It’s for the travelers.

I’ll leave you to decide your nomenclature.

  • Roopkund Lake, Uttarakhand.

Roopkund as one would expect, would be a small reservoir of scenic beauty, or at least that’s what etymology would suggest; it isn’t inaccurate, just a little off the conventional beauty mark though. Roopkund is beautiful beyond a doubt, but in a morbid, creepy sort of a way, considering it has human skeletons (yes, you read right, entire SKELETONS) at the base and circumference of the lake which are visible, by the way, when the snow melts.

chilling for eternity.
chilling for eternity.

Well yeah snow, because it’s a glacial located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 16,499 ft. The area is good for a trek, if you don’t mind the skeletons and all.

Now is a good time as any to wonder how those skeletons got there, turns out there are a few free floating theories – they were either Tibetan tribesman, Japanese soldiers from the second world war, General Zorawar Singh of Kashmir and his men who were returning from Tibet and got caught in bad weather, king of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhaval, with his pregnant wife Rani Balampa, servants, dance troupe and others who went on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi shrine and faced bad weather, or maybe there was some kind of an epidemic.

(Secretly, I hope all of these are true, we’ll have a cultural congregation right there!)

Festive Roop-kund
Festive Roop-kund

These are the logical ones, and I say logical because the last story with the pregnant wife, can actually be true because the lake is an important landmark in the journey to the shrine and once in every twelve years, the followers of Nanda Devi actually host festivities there. However my favourite one involves a suicide ritual practice, simply because of how it fits, I mean sure, epidemic, but kill people for no reason to please Gods? That hits home quicker than I love my India does.

Not to bring in philosophy or cultural practices here, but what I’m saying is you should go check it out, form your own little theory and write back! 😛

  •  Phugtal Monastery, Ladakh

If there was ever someone who knew what peace and serenity meant, it had to be Gangsem Sherap Sampo, he is the reason for this honeycomb monastery built into a cliff side, located on the mouth of a cave, along the ever flowing tributary of the Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River, which has a resonating peace and a take-your-breath-away kind of an aura. Built in the 12th Century this monastery is a textbook example of how impossible is nothing!

Monastery of peace :)
Monastery of peace :)

For all you bookworms, the monastery has a library (and is home to about 70 monks). There’s also a stone which commemorates the author of the first English-Tibetan dictionary, Aexander Csoma de Koros.

This place is the kind whose beauty surpasses the tight definitions of words and sentences lose coherence when attempted in description of this quaint monastery. This is definitely one of the places, for which I would cut off all ties with the world, within a heartbeat. (Who needs people when you’ve got books?!)

 

 

  • Orchha Palace – Jehangir Mahal

The Jehangir Mahal is the reason I have high expectations from my friends. No seriously, like I’d totally kill a king for them, and then they could build me a palace. But that’s not what happened here.

The Jehangir Mahal was built as a symbol of friendship alright, but with a twist, a MUGHAL twist. We all know, courtesy of Mughal-e-azam, and our history text books, how Salim (Jehangir) and Anarkali’s love got them in trouble. Abul Fazl, one of the Navratnas took full advantage of the trouble brewing between father and son, cleverly suggesting to Akbar, that Jahangir who had marred the honour of the royal kingdom by falling in love for a court dancer, so it would only be befitting that he be denied the right to ascend to the throne after Akbar.

I want a palace like this!
I want a palace like this!

Needless to say Jehangir was more than displeased and revolted against his father. Daddy dearest upon learning of this, sent his favourite gem to quell the rebellion, Abul Fazal was happy as a lark, he only had to march to Agra, kill the little runt. Little did he know that Jehangir had a friend looking out for him, who happened to own a fife of Badoni, which was on the way to Agra (conspirational drum roll) the year was 1602, Abul Fazal’s life was over.

This friend was called Vir Singh. Who after the death of Akbar was given the whole of Bundelkhand as a gesture of thanksgiving, and attended his coronation, and it was at this point that Jehangir Mahal was built, to receive Jehangir when he visited Orchha.

Don’t you also want friends like this now?

  • Bhangarh Fort

    corridor of horror.
    corridor of horror.

The Bhangar Fort is actually a very well preserved set of ruins of an abandoned and possibly haunted 17th century city, in Rajasthan, India.

There are two possible reasons for the haunting, both involving a wizard Scindia.

One reason says that he had a certain demand that no houses built within the precinct of the fort should be taller than his house, and if any such house cast a shadow on his house, would lead to the destruction of the fort. (Weird) so one of the latter descendants of the kingdom, actually did that and then the whole fort was wiped clean. Until date, no house in the precinct can sustain a roof.

Bhangarh, ruined.
Bhangarh, ruined.

The other one makes a little more sense, talks about the wizard falling in love with the princess Ratnavati of Bangarh, the match was clearly a mismatch. Obsessed with the notion of the princess and her love, he concocted a love potion which he needed the princess to consume, being slightly off on the scheming front, he presented the potion to her in a market place in a not so subtle manner which made the princess see through the trick (du-uh) and throw the cup to the ground. Somehow the potion turned into a boulder which eventually crushed the wizard, but not before cursing the princess and everyone that no one would be able to live within the precincts of the fort. Which did manifest itself within the year.

That accounts for a whole lot of angry spirits, and spine chilling vibes. The fort is in utter ruins and the wind is literally heavy with something we can’t explain or understand, yet.

 

  • Veerbhadra Temple, Lepakshi.

The temple with the most interesting legend to one of its carvings is here! According to a local legend the Naga Linga was carved out of a single stone, while the workmen, brothers Viranna and Virupanna, waited on their mother to prepare their lunch. (Imagine the craftsmanship when they were well fed!)

what hungry workers can and will do!
what hungry workers can and will do!

But that’s not the only thing about the temple that draws you in, one look at it and you are left spell bound by the sculptures and mural paintings. Another single stone wonder is the granite Nandi which is touted as the second largest monolithic Nandi, after the one at Gomateshwar.

Another bit of strangely eerie trivia about the temple is a certain spot in the temple called the “Eyes of Viroopaakshana” and most of you’d think oh, just a pair of protruding eyeballs set in stone staring at you, not creepy at all.

But it gets creepier.

The story says something to the effect of a misunderstanding between the king and the temple builder, so the king ordered his minions to make the guy blind, (let’s not even try to think of how that would be achieved…) but when the builder heard this, he did so himself (again, let’s spare the imagery) and apparently threw them at the wall. People say those blood marks still stain the walls. I think people who want to promote tourism secretly paint the area crimson every month or two.

On that weird note, I sign off.

OkayBye!

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