Travelling off the beaten track one sometimes come across gems that one does not anticipate. In this case the dusty roads of Bundelkhand led us to the magnificient fort of Kalinjar with oodles of history behind it. The drive itself is nothing much to write about with the broken roads passing through villages which somehow seemed to have avoided the modern world. The all encompassing poverty of the common man in Bundelkhand hits hard through the drive. No wonder one daily hears about mass migration from the region.
Kalinjar fort though is magnificent. Kalinjar is one of the prominent hill fortress of Central India. The fort is utterly neglected and is in complete ruin. No guides, or boards are available to enlighten the visitor to the remarkable history it has witnessed. You will be left to explore the place on your own. And therein lies much of the beauty. Unless other places which are run down by selfie obsessed tourists, here one can be completely with themselves.
Once you start to explore the magnificence and the silence of the fort comes through. The origins of the forts are shrouded in mystery. Whether it was build during the Gupta Dynasty or the BarGujars made it can’t be said with certainty. Only the Chandelas were able to have any meaningful reign from the fort. The infamous Mahmud of Ghazni besieged the fort, Sher Shah Suri met his death on its grounds, the fort was a major pivotal centre in India’s first fight of independence in 1857.
Within the fort complex there is an important temple of Shiva. The temple is also reached via a steep hike independently of the fort. Many locals in fact take this path to pay homage to Shiva. The deities have bore the burnt of the attacks from Mughal forces, yet they retain their splendor.
Shiva is worshipped in the form of Neelkanth, as Shiva came to Kalinjar after drinking poison to overcome death. It is here that the ‘Kal’ was overcome and Shiva attained victory over death. The idols of Shiva have their throats blue and are moist reminiscent of the time Shiva drank poison.
There is another magnificent Shiva idol inside the complex which many locals trek up to pay homage today also. The idol is very imposing with Shiva dancing in the form of Natraj with his erect phallus.
If you are a history lover make the excursion to the fort and you would not be disappointed. Places like these again bring alive the joys of travelling of the beaten track to unearth the hidden gems scattered throughout the world.