Anjaan … sunsaan … veeraan … bikhri imaarton ki dastaan … aur unki bhooli huyi kahaniyaan … Ekaant
(Unknown … desolate … deserted … the tales of dilapidated structures … and its forgotten stories … Isolated)
With these words, right at the start, Epic Channel’s non-fiction show Ekaant, Itihaas ki goonj (Isolated, the echo of history), takes one right into the middle of a mysterious and sometimes eerie world.
Ably hosted by Akul Tripathi, brilliantly shot and directed, Ekaant takes a trip to the historical but abandoned places, such as buildings, forts and sometimes whole towns, now lying in a state of ruins. These places, which once saw days of prosperity, which were once filled with happy people, which once lay the foundation to the progress of mankind, which ones were the centres of state or trade or knowledge – now remain destroyed and defeated, lifeless, isolated; with very little or no signs whatsoever of the good days that it had seen.
- Ruins of a fort built on the hills on the Srinagar–Leh highway, rumoured to have been nine floors high.
- Remains of a prosperous university at Nyarma, near Leh, which was started a thousand years ago by the Budhist visionary Lochava Rinchen Zangpo.
- A deserted town near the Kori creek, close to the Indo-Pak border in Gujarat, which was once a trading hub earning a a lakh daily about a couple of centuries ago, hence being named Lakhpat.
- A forgotten paradise which was once called the Paris of the East, Ross Island, situated close to Port Blair in the Andaman Nicobar islands.
- The abandoned Janjira fort, once owned by the Siddis, built on a tiny island in the Arabian sea off the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, which claims to be the only fort that was undefeated in spite of constant attacks by the Marathas, Dutch and British.
- A prosperous village Kuldhara, near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, being abandoned overnight by its people, the stories told to depict the reasons vary from person to person.
- The world famous Nalanda University, spread across acres of land and boasts of a building for library with nine floors filled with manuscripts and scrolls used by students and teachers, which once attracted students from many countries, now lies isolated.
- Ruins of hundreds of temples found in Bateshwar, in the middle of the dacoit infested Chambal valley and the struggle of its restoration by the ASI with the bad elements hovering around. Also a concentric Chausath Yogini temple found nearby, with 64 small rooms dedicated to 64 Yoginis.
- In Karnataka, the entire town of Talakkad along with its 30 temples is submerged under sand; the reason could be a curse or a natural calamity.
- The story of the ruined town of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the illustrious Vijayanagar Empire, now only a part of that town surviving renamed as Hampi.
These are only some of the stories that the Ekaant team surveys and tries to find the reasons for their devastations.
A common question for which Ekaant seeks answers – ‘What could have happened that the once thriving and active places, now lie abandoned and isolated?’ Trying to get to a meeting point between the facts excavated by the experts and the folk tales told by the local people, which side of the story to believe is left to the concerned individual.
India, with its many kingdoms, has been popular, since ages, for its rich heritage and immense natural resources, attracting many invaders across centuries. A common reason for destruction of most of the famous buildings and towns has been these invasions. Monuments, painstakingly built by generations of masons and sculptors over a period of decades and sometimes centuries, were attacked and destroyed by heartless invaders. Years of hard work being put down within minutes. Although the stories differ and vary for many other places, but the lying in ruins of once bustling forts and towns, leaves one saddened.
A plus point of this non-fiction show has been its dialogues. And very rightly, Akul Tripathi says that the isolation of one particular place was valid. That is the Celllular Jail in the Andaman & Nicobar islands, where freedom fighters were jailed and tortured inhumanly.
The stories that each place narrates is overwhelming. Life goes through good times and bad times, so do most of the places. A thought Akul shares, ‘So will every flourishing place end in devastation some day?’ A scary thought indeed. But something that one can give a thought to.
Towards the end of last episode of the first season, Akul says that just as time keeps changing from Poornima (Full moon) to Amavasya (New moon) and so on, perhaps these places, during its heydays witnessed Poornima and enjoyed the full moon; now we are witnessing its Amavasya but still enjoying the many bright stars that they display. A standing ovation for these brilliant lines.
Looking forward to a new season of episodes of places with intriguing and mystifying stories. Although on the side, I do wish that there weren’t many more stories of prosperity followed by destruction, not many places that bowed down to the ravages of time, not many that gave up the will to survive.
But perhaps such places are far and few
Ancient towns that still look as new
Many places didn’t go down without a fight to survive
Now many boast of experts in a fight to revive
Bateshwar temples slowly get back its form
Nalanda vows to once again reform
While Shekhawati still waits for its owners
Unakoti’s crore idols yet to reveal its creators
Stories of places, amazing but tragic
Tales of desolation, some true and some illogic
A journey entailed to know the real history
Let’s learn from these tales and reduce animosity
All the pictures and video credited to uploaders / copyright holders