Thursday, 15 February 2018

Ruins of Jahajpur Fort

"Is this the way to the fort on hilltop?"
"No this will take you to the Dargah."
"Then how do we go to the Fort?"
"There is no pathway to the Fort. Nobody visits the Fort because it is in ruins." 
"But we would like to visit it."
After some quizzical looks, the 'chacha jaan' responded reluctantly "Turn right after the banyan tree. Once you reach the Dargah try and find your way to the fort". For readers not familiar with India, a Dargah (Persian: درگاه‎ dargâh or درگه dargah, also in Urdu) is a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure like a sufi saint.
This was the brief conversation we had with an elderly muslim resident of Jahazpur (also spelt as Jahajpur) a tehsil town in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. Having seen the imposing structure from a long distance, I was keen to hike up the Fort. 
We did not have any data connectivity at the place we were staying. So, googling it was ruled out. Somehow I persuaded Rajveer, the driver of our hired Innova to explore it together. He agreed to take the narrow lanes through Jahazpur basti (like a slum- having small houses or huts of economically weaker sections of the society) to the Dargah (I later found it to be Dargah Gazi Sarkar Ra). 
After we entered the outer gate of Jahajpur town, we had to negotiate through narrow lanes by folding our side view mirrors!
We made it to the bottom of the hill to find a narrow steep climb ahead. Rajveer our driver kept up his motivation and we climbed the steep slope. See the pictures.
After 100 metres of steep climb (partly cemented for the visitors to the dargah) we came across a path with sharp stones on either side. Typical of Aravali hills, the layers of stones looked fractured.

We pressed on and then suddenly the gravel path seemed to end and lead nowhere. There was hardly any place to reverse the car. We decided to park on the hill side and got down to hike up the fortress which was now visible through the keekar trees and other shrubs. 

We passed by a bastion of the fortress. Picture.
As we hiked a few hundred feet we came upon a broken wall and few steps leading to a door. We kept going and found a pair of shoes outside the dilapidated door frame. With no sign of animal or human habitation around, it was quite a discovery! An interesting find to put it differently.
We entered the door only to find a man lighting some Agarbattis on the mazar मज़ार (grave) of some departed soul buried there. We asked him if there was a way to the Fort. He said "you are already standing in one part of the fort and this is the Dargah". He then pointed to an abandoned water tank of the olden days.
"We want to go further up. Is there a path to the fort", we asked.
"There is no path, but you can follow the fallen walls and stones and find your way up to the Fort", he replied. However, he cautioned us to be careful.

As we made our way through the thorny shrubs Rajveer the driver looked up to the ruins and remarked "Sir yeh toh Bhoot Mahal lagta hai!" (It looks like a haunted palace). I comforted Rajveer and told him that he should not worry as I am with him and let's press on. He agreed albeit reluctantly.
We kept going up the rubble while maintaining our balance. The ruins glowed in the evening sun. Pause for a picture.
One bend after the other, one stair after the other, the fortress in ruins kept surprising us with its architectural beauty. As the old Hindi proverb goes "खंडहर बतातें हैं कि इमारत भी कितनी बुलंद थी" which means 'the ruins tell us how robust and majestic the original structure was'.  Pictures.

Although we could not ascertain the dates when the fort was built, but since most forts in Mewar region were built in 14th-15th Century AD, Jahajpur would also belong to that period. Any reader or historian is welcome to enlighten us in this regard.
A short 45-second video clip shows the Palace in the fort.

The view from the fort was simply breathtaking. See the two pictures of the town below.

Will some reader or historian decipher the inscriptions pictured below?
How the fort walls and its interiors have been vandalised,was a shock. Perhaps visitors could access the fort in the past. Their 'art' work!

 Here is a short one-minute video that shows the panorama from the fort in Aravali hills.

 William Blake had once said "The ruins of time build mansions in eternity". How true? See the picturesque quote below.

Recently the Quli Qutabshahi Tombs in Hyderabad were restored by The Aga Khan Foundation. Wonder why priceless treasures such as Jahajpur Fort are not being protected and restored by the Govt of India or the State Government?

Talking of the valour of the Rajputana kingdoms, Kumbhalgarh needs special mention. You may browse Ghumakkad's story titled Kumbhalgarh- The Pride of Mewar.
Taking a DSLR selfie is not as simple. But we managed to get the fort in the background as the sun was going down!
I have always felt that rural India is a perfect example of peaceful co-existence. People of different faiths live happily in the same village. Jahajpur was no exception. While returning from the fort, light was fading. Yet from the moving car on a rocky patch, I took this picture. Result-- pretty bad. But the two objects though blurred-- a mandir atop a hill and a masjid in the town-- say it all.
 Where exactly is this Jahajpur? About 200 kms south of Jaipur in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. We drove via Ajmer. See the route map courtesy Google Maps below.
For all the netizens, below is an extract of Jahajpur map around the fort. Notice there is no road to the fort. Location of the fort is approximate. 

Ghumakkad's earlier stories on some other forts of India can be browsed by clicking the links below:

Hope you enjoyed 'hiking' to Jahajpur with Ghumakkad. Venturing into unknown is what Ghumakkad thrives on.

Thanks for browsing. Do share your feedback.

     -  Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/15th Feb 2018

#Forts #HillForts #Mewar #Rajasthan #TravelIndia #NatGeoIndia #LonelyPlanetIndia #WanderLust #WanderTrails #IncredibleIndia #IndiaTourism #GhumakkadHarsh #GhumakkadHB