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Ekaant, in the middle of the city – Ekaant Season 2

ekaant middle city ekaant season 2

Often we find that isolated monuments and historic locations are found in cities and towns that aren’t deserted completely. Yet, there are some locations that seem to have halted in their passage of time, while the sprawling city around is running fast ahead with time. These monuments stand alone in Ekaant, in the middle of the city. Some of the locations below covered in Ekaant Season 2 on the Epic Channel, hosted by Akul Tripathi, give such a feeling.

 

Qila Mubarak – Bhatinda

EBhatinda

About 2000 years ago, at the borders of the Cholistan desert, many forts were built in and around the area of Bhatinda. These forts were built for military purposes to counter the invaders that came in from the West through this path. Among those forts, only Qila Mubarak has withstood the perils of time and stands tall and mighty in the middle of the city of Bhatinda.

But this fort is now slowly giving up its fight against time. Many of its walls have become frail, the outer walls collapsing at a few places. This ancient fort slowly turning into sand submerging into the desert from which it once rose.

Today Bhatinda, with its modern technology has pushed back the desert and made it into an agricultural land. But it is said that back then, when the area was still part of the desert, Qila Mubarak would look like a giant ship in the middle of the sea.

The fort is built completely with bricks – the walls, the pillars, the floor, the stairs – all are built with bricks. These bricks called the Nanak Shahi bricks , are one-fourth size of the bricks that are currently in use. Thus, this fort is said to be the oldest and biggest surviving fort built by bricks.

The fort is believed to have been built either by Raja Kanishka or by Raja Dab in the 2nd to 3rd centuries. It used to be known as the entrance to India – the Gateway of India in the medieval times.

During these two thousand years, many a time, the fort crept away into the forgotten pages of history, but time to time, it again gained prominence every time a famous personality set foot in these premises. Mohammed Ghori, Mahmud Ghazni, Prithviraj Chauhan and Razia Sultan are some of those personalities. But unlike the others, Razia Sultan was brought here as a prisoner by Malik Altunia, the Governor of Bhatinda. Razia Sultan was imprisoned here till she agreed to marry Altunia.

The fort was named as Qila Mubarak when it came under the Sikh rule in the 15th century. The three Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh are said to have visitied the fort. A Gurudwara in the fort premises, built in their honour, is still in use.

As time moved ahead and battles ceased, the need for the fort also receded and so did its maintenance. As the fort dilapidates with its walls crumbling slowly, people who’ve lived around the fort since ages can only watch helplessly. This ancient Gateway of India, which kept coming back from the lost pages of history time and again, now is in the limelight again thanks to Akul Tripathi and his team of Ekaant. But how long will it take for another personality to adorn its premises, it is hard to tell.

 

Mehrauli Archeological Park

Epic Jamali Kamali

Within the limits of the India’s capital, Delhi, not very far from the famous Qutb complex, a wide area of more than 100 acres, called the Mehrauli Archeological park, holds within its boundary walls, many monuments that were built over a thousand years, representing the many pages of history that Delhi has seen.  Unknown to many, even to those who dwell in the city, the park has about a hundred monuments built by various dynasties over the years. Some of these monuments include, mosques, dargahs, forts, tombs and baolis (step-wells).

The tomb of the Turq ruler Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, built in 1287, is of historical importance in Indo-Islamic architecture, as it is believed to have India’s first true arch and also the first true dome, although the dome did not survive. Close to the tomb, the grave of Balban’s son Mohammad Khan {also known as Khan Shahid} can be found. The place is filled with the aroma of perfumes as it is believed that genies or invisible spirits reside in the area and they fulfill wishes of people who offer these fragrances and make their wishes.

The Jamali Kamali tomb and mosque are significant monuments of the park. Hamid bin Fazlullah was a Sufi saint and poet who wrote under the name of Jamali. The tomb was said to have been built by Humayun. Besides the grave of Jamali, there is another grave believed to be that of Kamali, Though there isn’t any clarity about who Kamali was; according to historian, Rana Safvi, Kamali was also a Sufi saint and a close friend of Jamali.

The stepwells in the park, like the Rajjon ki bouli are said to be the place where people would come for water and meanwhile meet and greet, cook meals and spend time together. In the words of Rana Safvi, it was the facebook of those times, where social networking among the people would take place.

The Quli Khan tomb was built in the honour of Quli Khan, son of Mahamanga, who was Emperor Akbar’s foster mother. Close to it, the British agent, Thomas Metcalfe built a guest house and a garden around it. This was used as a leisure house.

Many other monuments exist in the area, some in good condition, but many deteriorating. When New Delhi was formed, the focus of people shifted there and Mehrauli was slowly forgotten. And as Akul Tripathi says, perhaps only the genies assemble here in this neglected place and talk of the various time periods the place has seen in the past thousand years.

 

Leh Palace and Zorawar fort

ELehPalace

Leh, the district capital of Ladakh, is overlooked by a magnificent structure, a towering nine floor high skyscraper –  perhaps, India’s oldest surviving skyscraper, the Leh Palace. Built in the 17th century by the Namgyal dynasty, this palace was completed during the reign of King Sengge Namgyal. The construction of the nine storied palace built on the Tsemo hill, is said to be inspired by the famous Potala palace of Lhasa. But the local people believe that since the Leh Palace was built earlier, it is likely that the construction of the Potala palace was inspired by the Leh palace.

Nevertheless, it still remains a wonder that such a tall structure, that too on top of a hill, could be conceived and constructed way back in the 17th century. The palace, now in ruins, is being restored by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). However, the royal temple in the 5th floor is still in use and prayers and chantings are done here.

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The palace was ruined when Zorawar Singh, the General of Maharaja Gulab Singh of the Dogra dynasty, attacked and captured Ladakh. The palace suffered many damages and the then ruler, Tsepal Namgyal  and his family had to move to the nearby Stok palace.

Although Zorawar Singh is disliked by the locals because he had captured Ladakh, but they praise his capabilities and achievements for he lead an army through the treacherous Zangskar mountain range in harsh weather conditions and reached Leh in a quick span of time, thereby catching the King and his forces off guard, leaving them no time to prepare for a retaliation. No other warrior had surged through the Himalayan valleys and captured Ladakh.

After his capture of Ladakh,  Zorawar Singh built a fort to keep a check on the affairs in the region. This fort, called the Zorawar fort, made from mud, was found to be in good condition and is under the maintenance of the Indian army.  A structure that does not match the local architecture, the Zorawar fort stands out as a unique creation in the city of Leh.

 

Structures built centuries ago, but now fighting the war against time – talking of the glorious times they saw, when they were inhabited by the high and mighty – but now a feeling of abandonment has taken over.

As Akul Tripathi bids adieu to the second season of Ekaant, he talks of the relation between  Ekaant/desolation and history. Both are incomplete without one another. A relation bound by time that is endless. If we look around, we might find that desolation at a place we might have not thought of, hiding, waiting to be identified. The journey of the search for Ekaant would only go on.

Both the seasons of Ekaant have been a wonderful experience for me. It helped me know more about places I never knew had existed before. I got to know more about our history, helped me connect the dots between various eras and dynasties. History is a complex maze. Ekaant helped me to understand the routes of the maze to some extent. My heartfelt gratitude to Akul Tripathi and the whole team of Ekaant, including the cinematographers who took some breathtaking aerial shots.

I know that the journey of Ekaant might never end. As time goes on, desolation too would keep surfacing. I can only hope that the moments of desolation recede with time.

 

Ekaant Notes

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Other articles on the Ekaant series:

Articles on Epic Channel shows: https://writersbrew.com/tag/epic-channel/

 

For promos of all shows, please visit:  https://www.youtube.com/user/EpicChannelIndia

Pictures credited to uploaders / copyright holders

DurgaS’s Index 

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4 Comments

  • bag_keka@yahoo.co.in'
    Reply
    Keka Bag
    July 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Thank you again, I am honoured to go through the Ekaant journey in words. It feels ecstatic to read your write up. It was like I am with Ekaant again. I loved the thought that Ekaant helped us to match the dots between different eras and dynasties of history and History is a complex maze. Thanks again 😀

    • Reply
      DurgaS
      July 9, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Thanks for commenting Keka. It has been quite a learning process.The more I saw the episodes, the more I got acclimatized to the names of dynasties, rulers and places mentioned across different episodes. Understanding these eras became a bit simpler.

  • lalitasarya@gmail.com'
    Reply
    Lalita Arya
    July 10, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Thanks Durga for commenting on these.. I had heard about the series, but did not follow it. It is therefore so good to read about some of the places you mention. I have seen the one in Mehrauli when I lived in Delhi and on visiting any of these kinds of places always gave me the feeling of amazement and then sadness. To be connected to a land with such history is very nostalgic. thanks again.

    • Reply
      DurgaS
      July 10, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting Lalitha. It’s a wonderful show. Epic Channel often has reruns of its shows. So you can watch the next time it’s on. Or you can catch the series on Netflix too.
      We have such a vast history. These monuments stand as witness giving us a glimpse into those eras. And yes, their stories do give us a sad feeling.

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