Facets of Jakhu Temple

That Was Weird #Entry2

By: Jishnu Choudhury (3rd year, Civil)

As I with my aunt’s and my family strolled along the very busy wintry night of Mall Road Shimla, our eyes roved along the splendid night view from the Ridge Skyline, Christ Church, Old Gaiety Theatre of Victorian Gothic Architecture, The Viceroy Lodge and many more all decked up in colorful lights to welcome the new year. Our ears rocked to the Shimla Carnival 2015 and to the buzz of festivity in bars and restaurants. For the first time our taste buds relished the Cone Pizzas and Paw Bhaji of Cones and Curries.

What attracted us the most was the magnificent orange coloured statue of Lord Hanuman, the Monkey god, that loomed above the Deodar treetops in the Jakhu Hills. Its highness stood tall in its majesty if blessings and protecting everyone below.

The following morning, thrill and excitement increased as the uphill winds and turns through the every green beauty of Deodars, Rhododendrons took us to the Jakhu Hills. At the top of the Hill is an old temple of Hanuman and what makes the place really magical is the perpetual presence of the denizens of the Hill. As we purchased the Puja items, the Vendor warned us that visitors are bullied by the mischievous monkeys, who brazenly snatch away spectacles in lieu of Prasad and edibles . He gave us walking sticks to evade them and get our specs opened to be kept secured in the bags. I was the sole hero not following any of their orders, swaggering around and exploring my new D3200 as 3 years in Monkey Zoned NITH gave me the intuition that monkeys are weak in tea. Religious sentiments now have been accompanied by fear and excitement. As we walked upstairs towards the temple the calm and sedated animal watched every move we made, sometimes following along behind as tourists have always been there only on suffrage.

A few long flight of steps and we were into the temple courtyard to the very feet of the 108 foot statue of the God that the mountain is sacred to and whose people reside there – Lord Hanuman, the Monkey God. The scenic view made us forget the monkey mischief (about which I was least concerned right from the beginning), and started posing selfies, groupfies to preserve the great memory. But suddenly one of Lord Hanuman’s servants mugged me. To be more precise this shifty looking brute (IMAGE OF THE MONKEY) on the roof waited until I turned around, pounced on my back, and ripped my spectacles from my face (luckily the little scratches like the fingers of a miniature Freddy Kruger, were not deep). So there I was, blind, peering at a large group of monkeys trying to figure out which of them had my specs. Rhesus macaque do not like being peered at. Nope, not one bit. So they all yelled their arses off which attracted the attention of every other monkey on the mountain. It was all a little creepy, just like this monkey’s unsettling stare.

After a long negotiation with the troop which included half-eaten packets of chips, one packet of little hearts and some amount of Prasad, finally it was mom who finalized the deal with a packet of bourbon. It jumped from the roof top, threw the specs and mother was fast enough to recover the vision aids before it became the target of other Rhesus macaques. Just as we offered our prayers to the Lord, we could hear a co-visitor shout, “Mera chasma! Mera chasma!”. Monkey menace has always been a common scenario in Jakhu temple and most other religious places of India. Though monkey pranks are fun to watch, they are dangerous too as there are incidents of scratches and injuries of tourists who require Medical attention. Monkey menace is increasing day by day as they are deprived of their natural habitat and of course their favorite bunch of bananas.

Advisory for people traveling to Jakhu Temple –If some monkeys take away your valuable items like mobile phone, shoes, or spectacles, do not try to throw stones at them. Instead be calm, get packets of edibles or bananas for them, and they will themselves give back your stuff.

 

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Dilemma Between Udaipur and Jodhpur

By: Satyam Kumar (ECE, Final year)

Originally On: https://www.tripoto.com/trip/dilemma-between-udaipur-and-jodhpur-56851dc1634f0?ref=mobwapp&source=awp

Day 1 (Jaipur): 

First, we headed towards Amber Palace (Amer Fort). If you are a student then it is much beneficial to you to know as entry fee is only 10 Rs. But for others it varies from INR 50-100 Rs. (Don’t forget to carry your Student id card). Amer Fort is known for its artistic Hindu style elements. With its large ramparts and series of gates and cobbled paths. The aesthetic ambiance of the palace is seen within its walls. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the attractive, opulent palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of

A. Diwan-e-Aam, or “Hall of Public Audience”,

B. the Diwan-e-Khas, or “Hall of Private Audience”,

C. the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), or Jai Mandir, and

D. the Sukh Niwas where a cool climate is artificially created by winds that blow over a water cascade within the palace. Hence, the Amer Fort is also popularly known as the Amer Palace.

Then we headed towards Nahargarh Fort which is around 9 km from Amer Fort. Here also the entry fee is very cheap (5 rs I guess if you are a student) else it is expensive.

The fort was originally named Sudarshangarh, but it is now known as Nahargarh, which means ‘abode of tigers’. Here you can enjoy the mesmerizing view of Pink City Jaipur  from the top of the Fort.

Due to lack of time we were unable to cover Jaigarh Fort as closing time for this fort was 6 pm. But if you have sufficient time then it is a “must go place”. Then we headed to Jalmahal. It is also in the vicinity of Amer. It has awesome view at night and you can even enjoy Rajasthani Street Food and can do window shopping.

Day 2 (For Food Lover): 

We decided to spend this whole day on trying Rajasthani cuisines. We first went to Saras Parlour (famous for dairy products) near WTP(World Trade Park)– very famous mall of Pink City for breakfast. After breakfast there is a Lassiwala in GT Road. The Lassi- I can’t even write in words -so pure and delicious.

Then we went to Birla Temple. Birla Mandir is constructed in the finest quality of white marble and the look is stunning during night. But unfortunately we visited there during afternoon. There is a museum also beneath the temple and a well maintained Garden where you can relax and can even hangout with partner.

Then for lunch we went to LMB Hotel at Johri Bazar. The prices are too high but believe me it was worth. Everything was like mouth watering.

Then we spent some time at WTP stalking girls :p and then went to Chauki Dani where you will taste real Rajasthani Cuisines. Entry Fee was 650 but in this they will provide you Rajasthani Thali(Dal , Baati , Choorma, and much more) , Folk Dance(On special occasions) , Puppet Show and you can even do Camel Rides , Elephant Ride and much more activities. It is totally based on Rajasthani Culture . If you really want to experience Rajasthani Culture, this is the place for you.

Day 3 (Udaipur):

We were very confused between Udaipur and Jodhpur. As we had only one day time limit people suggested us to go for Jodhpur, but I had heard about Udaipur a lot and I somehow convinced friends for “Udaipur: City of Lakes”. As Udaipur is around 600 km from Jaipur so we planned to take overnight journey.

We first visited Nathdwara Temple @ 5 am and luckily able to get Aarti also. This temple has highly religious Importance as I could see from the crowd; even at 5 am and the place was around 40 km away from Udaipur.

One of our friend was from RNT Medical college(Udaipur) ,so we went to his hostel, freshened up and had some breakfast. Around 10 am we left his hostel for Fatehsagar Lake. The lake has good atmosphere and and you can do boating.  But it has extra charges. There is a park nearby which has some entry fee. The park has a museum based on Maharana Fateh Singh. There is also a Shivaji Staute and going in depth of forests you can even enjoy Lake view from top.

From Fatehsagar we left for City Palace. Entry fee- 100(for students) + 100(Camera Charges). This place is a must go place. It has basically a museum covering whole Rajasthan History(of all warriors). The City Palace  was built in a flamboyant style and is considered the largest of its type in Rajasthan, a fusion of the Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles, and was built on a hill top that gives a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding, including several historic monuments. The museum is so huge that you Should have at least 90 minutes to cover it properly.

After City Palace we went to Lake Pichola(Cover this during evening) where we enjoyed the mesmerizing and astonishing view of sunset. It was really awesome. Then we covered two nearby ghats from where you could see Jagmandir at its best look and realize why Udaipur is called city of lakes.

Our Decision of choosing Udaipur was justified and guys if you have more time then there are 2-3 places which we didn’t cover like Sajjangarh Fort , Jaisamand Lake etc.

 

Dalhousie’s Odyssey: 3 Days At Its Best

by: Satyam Kumar (ECE Final year)

Originally On: https://www.tripoto.com/trip/dalhousie-s-odyssey-56b0ddd94dd0c?ref=mobwapp&source=awp

Two travelers with twenty NITians left the college campus and began their unforgettable journey of 2016. “Chalo Badka Ji!”

Day 1: Kangra Fort Conquered!

We started our journey early in the morning. First we went to Kangra Fort. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India. A long and narrow passage leads up to the top of the fort through the series of gates. At the top, it was very foggy and one can get the views of good snow clad mountains. We clicked some photos and after spending about an hour, we left for Dalhousie.

Two kilometers before Dalhousie, there is a waterfall named Panchpula. Waterfall is shrouded by green blanket of Pine and Deodar trees and enfolds refreshing water streams. It is a nice spot, where we spend some time and enjoy the loveliness of exotic waterfalls and the refreshing streams. A monument has been built here in memory of the great freedom fighter, Sardar Ajit Singh. The monument is built near the streams and has amazing craftsmanship. Nearby this waterfall there are few food and tea stalls where we had some snacks and started the trek of 1.5km to Ganji Pahadi.

Ganji Pahadi gets its name from the bald patch of the Barkota hills of the Himalayas. It provides the most amazing views of the surroundings. The freshness in the air at the top of Ganji Pahadi is intoxicating and is a perfect spot for an outing. The trek was little prostrate but after reaching the top we feel more enthusiastic and energetic, and it takes much less time to down-trek.

We checked into a hotel at Dalhousie, put our luggage there and went to roam at mall road. Then we had our dinner at some restaurant. At the hotel we spent the night playing Dumb Charades and Cards (UNO and Playing cards). Cards are the best way to interact and chill around. We were laughing and shouting so loud that the hotel people received complaints from others.

Day 2: Bow down to Pohllani Devi

We planned to start the day by first visiting the Dainkund Peak. On the way, we came across DPS (Dalhousie Public School) having maintained peaceful gardens and air force campus where it has a Airplane, a Tank and a ship. We stopped there for a while and click some selfies and then proceeded towards Dainkund. Dainkund is known to be the highest peak of Dalhousie with a height 2745 m above sea level. We found some snow there and there began snow fight among us. We tried to make some structures and had all sorts of fun one could have in snow. Then from there was a trek to Pohllani Devi of 2kms. During the trek we interacted with a local girl who carried a rabbit named Chiku with her. It was so cute like Awwww (Girls’ Reaction :p) and we captured some snaps with it and then we proceeded towards the next destination.

On reaching there, it provided a magnificent panoramic view of Pir Pranjal ranges and its valley. It was a breathtaking experience. The view was totally awesome. There was a Kali Devi temple at the top where no one was allowed to go except for the “Poojaris”. But for our satisfaction and the myths that we had heard of, we climbed up above. We had maggie and tea there. Maggie is always a part of trips in Himachal.

During the return journey, we covered Kala Top Wild Life Reserve. We had heard so much about it like it houses a plethora of various fauna such as the Himalayan Black bear, Pheasants and Himalayan black marten etc. But we unfortunately didn’t find anything like that and without spending much of time there, we left for Khajjiyar.

On the way to Khajjiyar, there was a road jam because a car had fallen down in the trench a few hours ago. It happened because the roads were slippery due to deposition of molten hard snow. We along with some localities tried to make the road a little rough so that vehicles could pass through it. After sometime we succeeded and headed forward.

At Khajjiyar we first had dinner and then booked a hotel. We had a bonfire with horror stories and goose bumps. There was a small village uphill to our hotel. Some houses were visible to us from our bonfire point. Suddenly at the middle, one room’s light started blinking with awkward voices and the heartbeats of many were fastest at this point. But then we realized it was electricity fault and the voice was that of monkeys. The night was spooky. We were completely involved in the horror stories when suddenly Sagar played the audio of a screaming woman in his phone. Two of us freaked out at once. Then we went to our rooms, took some deep breath and went for sleep as it was already very late (2 am).

Day 3: Mini Switzerland of India!

After waking up from last scary night, we first went to Shiva Temple which has 81 foot Lord Shiva Statue. Then we went to the famous Khajjiyar Ground which is often nicknamed as Mini Switzerland of India. It was a stretch of green land with a water body (Khajjiyar Lake) in the center and the closer look at the water made us squirm, it almost looked like a sewer. With pine trees all around it is picturesque and perhaps would look even more beautiful with snow. It offered various activities like horse riding, paragliding, zorbing etc. But these activities were a bit costly and most of us had already tried all these activities. So we decided to invoke the childish memories and we played chain-chain, ice-water, kho-kho and ate cotton candies. Sweet! This was something more amazing and we felt like if there is paradise on Earth, this is it. We enjoyed Khajjiyar at its best.

After travelling some distance there was a point where famous Bollywood movie “Gadar” was shot. We stayed there for a while and left for Jwalamukhi Temple which has highly mythological importance. Under the gaze of the Dhauladhar range and set amidst the undulating hills that character sub-Himalayan Himachal Sati’s tongue is believed to have fallen at Jwalamukhi and the goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn a flawless blue through fissures in the age old rock. We reached there by 8 pm so luckily we were able to attend the “Aarti” and get the “Prasad”.

Finally the saga of exhilarating journey with my dearest English Club had come to an end. Probably this was my last trip with the club, but nothing less than an ultimate safari. I thank them for those precious and unforgettable moments. Each and every moment spent with you guys have been imprinted on my heart. I am going to cherish every moment throughout. Your companionship is ineffable for me and perhaps I won’t be able to find such good Jungoos…Friends to be precise. 😦

PS:

I am not crying like Sagar for half an hour…but it’s like I am going to miss this phase of my life.

Shikari Devi : The Road Not Taken

  by: Satyam Kumar (ECE Final Year)

Originally posted on : https://www.tripoto.com/trip/shikari-devi-the-road-not-taken-56631a92d9e90?ref=mobwapp&source=awp

I have been to several treks in Himachal, but this trek was an arduous one. This was the most ecstatic trip I have ever been to. So I decided to share this trekking experience.

We left our college at midnight so that we could reach the Janjheri (base camp of the trek) by morning and could start the trek at 7am. After reaching Janjheri, we decided to go further at Rajgarh from where trek was about seven kilometers.

Since we had left the college at midnight so we had no time to purchase any eatables. We thought we would buy foodstuffs from the base camp. But when we reached Rajgarh we realized that there was no one to welcome us but only an old hut which seemed to be closed for years. It was all covered with snow and also gave a haunted impression.  To spoil the suspense it was actually haunted. This we came to know when we reached the destination. Yes! we did observe some paranormal activities.

First one was the spookiest to me. The hut was locked from the outside but we could clearly hear some kind of pleasant music coming from inside. We wondered why would anyone lock himself and keep playing with musical instrument or something. We tried to convince ourselves with factual possibilities but could not come up to any strong conclusion.

Other one made us realize what haunting and fear mean. The moment the music from the inside of hut stopped, we got alarmed and paused our conversation. Then instantly, two among us observed a sudden appearance and disappearance of something. They couldn’t make out what it was. But they were sure that it was something strange, something that brought negative vibes with it.

At that point we were really scared, some of us even wanted to escape the place and go back. But we gathered courage and proceeded to trek.

The snow on the way was four to five foot deep which made it very difficult to trek on it. After trekking around three kilometres, we discovered the fact that we didn’t have water left with us. We could obviously not get water in the middle of the trek. After 4km, one of our friend fainted down because of weakness and thirst. The snow all around appeared ridiculing us. I recalled a line from school time poem that said,”Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink.” We somehow helped the friend in swoon to wake up and completed the trek.

When we reached at the top, there was nothing to eat, no shops, no sign of human life infact. Thankfully we saw Pandit Ji. We communicated with Pandit Ji and he told us that even he himself had arrived there a day before. This was because the trek was officially closed by H.P government and was reopened last morning only. He said that we will not be getting any food to eat. We were really exhausted and needed food and water desperately.

Pandit Ji provided us with water and then we requested him to get us some food. He gave us food from what he was going to eat. He gave us some rice which was enough for getting down the trek. He seemed like God to us. He was our saviour.

Later we talked about the hut with him and he told us the story which goes like this:

“Around 5 years ago, there was a lady who committed suicide. She was a great devotee of Shikari Mata. Now, her soul roams around there but it doesn’t harm anyone.”

Pandit Ji also told us the famous Story of Shikari Devi: According to him, the hunters in early years once worshipped the Goddess on mountains asking for success in their hunt. That old temple and Goddess is believed to be in existence from the time of Pandavas.

It was very strange fact that there will be no snowfall on the top of temple which was roofless. And yes we also observed that there was full snow outside the Temple premises but there was not even a mark of snow or water inside the temple.

Then we had some pictures clicked and purchased about thirty percent of the PRASAD as our food for the rest of the trek. Finally, we left Pandit Ji with a goodbye and went on our way back. After three hours of walk in the snow, we reached down at the base camp and almost immediately left for the college.

In this 10 hours trek (i.e. 4 and a half hours of up-trek plus 2 and a half hours of stay at the top and 3 hours of  down-trek), we experienced all emotions. We realized the importance of being together. We realized how tough it is for people living these snow clad mountains. Fun, hardships, laughter and friendship were put in this trip all together.

 

 

Tidbits #3 : Memorabilia

– Navanshu Agarwal (Executive Member, English Club NITH)

Disclaimer- All events and characters described in this blog post are absolutely real. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely intentional. Though this post isn’t intended to hurt feelings or offend anyone, but even if it does… Nobody really cares!

This dates back to the time when the English Club was on a trip to Khajjiar. It was late in the night and I was lying asleep (and snoring loudly, according to Jayesh) in my bed. Then suddenly Pranjal had this moment of creative genius and suggested that all of us should go and explore the woods that surrounded our hotel. The next thing I know, the blankets were torn asunder from my body, ten people started nudging me, then shaking me and then literally shouting in my ears to wake up. Let me tell me you, you really learn the meaning of the expression ‘pissed off’ when someone wakes you up at 1am on a cold winter night from your warm, cozy slumber just to suggest something as stupid as this. But be as it may, within the next few minutes, I found myself pulling on my jacket, rubbing my eyes and tying my shoelaces as I got ready for this supposedly “Fun-o-Fun Adventure in the Woods”.

To be honest there is not much to describe about the forest, the trees were exactly as one would expect them to be- Goddamn trees! Although the forest floor was a bit wet owing to the rain that had graced us on our arrival to Khajjiar. It was a full moon that night ( and before this comes to your mind- No we did not have any vampires or werewolves amongst us ) and I admit it was lovely to see the moonlight shimmering through the dense canopy as thin streaks of light made their way to us. Now consider this: you are in a forest very late in the night, it’s a full moon night, you have a bunch of perhaps the craziest yet amazing people along with you, what is the next thing that follows? Horror stories… And for the next half an hour, we had people making up some mumbo-jumbo about a headless witch with twisted legs, the young kid who had died in an accident and whose spirit still haunted the place and the list goes on and on (now that I have mentioned this, don’t you reckon, all horror stories have such kinds of characters who died prematurely and whose spirit turns out to be an evil badass and condemns people to eternal pain & misery).

Then suddenly Satyam spotted a fire burning in a grove of trees a little far away from us. Excited about the prospect of having a bonfire, we all moved towards it and saw this person sitting beside the fire with his back towards us.
No sooner had we reached near him, that he turned his face towards us and almost immediately Kriti let out a scream. With eyes as red as blood, canines that seemed sharper than a knife and a messed up face as if someone had botched it all up and a huge scar stretching across the entire length of the face, the man stared at us blankly. I felt the blood receding from my hands as goose bumps erupted all over my skin. Everything suddenly seemed to go cold and amidst that rush of adrenaline I realised that my legs refused to move, no voice came out of my mouth and that was when I realised how paralysed fear can leave you. But then to my utter relief, a smile came upon the man’s face and he motioned with his hands for all of us to sit down around the blazing fire.

As we all settled down , in a raspy and damn creepy tone which can be described to exactly suit his character the old man inquired us where we were from and the purpose of our trip to Khajjiar. Then out of nowhere, he asked us if we knew the legend of Khajjiar and how did the place earn its name! All of us responded with a despondent NO! To which a smug smile stretched across his already creepy face (by this point a fifth grader would have already peed in his pants) and he began reciting the legend of Khajjiar to us.

“ Ahh. It just feels like yesterday when I think about how this place used to be. Before this valley was defiled by tourists, it was just the small village of Shivpura. Nestled amongst the lush green pine trees, the dense deodars and the towering Dhauladhars (Note To Reader- If you might have observed by now, this expression has become a sort of a clichéd description of Himachal Pradesh, every time you read something about HP, this line is sure to follow- full marks to creativity and originality) – Shivpura was alienated from most of the world. As the name suggests, the people of Shivpura were great devotees of Lord Shiva and in his honour had built an 81 foot Lord Shiva statue  (The one which now stands outside the Jagdambe Mata Temple) out of some kind of divine metal / special alloy- which scientists suggest has also been used in the construction of the Ashoka Pillar.

But life was not as quiet and peaceful as it may seem, fear used to strike within the hearts of people when the sound of horses galloping and gunshots reverberated throughout the valley, for it signalled the arrival of Khajjiar Singh; Khajjiar Singh- the bandit amongst bandits, the most feared dacoit throughout Himachal. Abandoned by his parents at the age of 8, he had been forced to steal in order to survive. He had acquainted himself with all the ways, paths, and the secret lairs through the surrounding forests- something that would later make him an exceptionally skilled tactician at Guerrilla Warfare. Oblivious to the feeling of love, there was always this rage that reflected in his eyes- a hatred for human kind & a hatred for rules and regulations. As he grew up, he earned quite a name for himself and was joined by other orphans. Together they formed the band of dacoits known as the Black Bandits. Slowly and steadily, the terror of the Black Bandits grew. The sheer frame of Khajjiar Singh, his ripping muscles, dense facial hair and bloodshed red eyes would make anyone cower under his gaze. He could be described of as nothing short as a monster. In fact most people don’t know this but the dialogue of the movie Gabbar- “door jab kisi gaon mai raat ko koi bacha rota hai to uski maa kehti hai beta, so jaa nahi to Gabbar aa jaayega” was infact originally used for Khajjiar Singh.

Every month, Khajjiar and his band of dacoits used to visit Shivpura to collect taxes from its innocent inhabitants. Faced with the choice to either pay up or be executed, the villagers didn’t have much of a choice. The sarpanch himself felt powerless against the atrocities afflicted upon them by Khajjiar Singh. But it was on the occasion of the first Purnima of Chaitra that all of it changed. As usual Khajjiar Singh’s men were knocking upon doors, demanding taxes from the villagers when Shamsher the village milkman refused to pay up to them. What followed was a scuffle with Khajjiar’s Lieutenant ‘Kalia’, which only left Shamsher bloodied and bruised along with a black swollen eye. Then suddenly out of nowhere, someone came from behind and slapped Kalia right across the face, it was the village Sarpanch’s daughter: Chamba Devi and along with her were some of the village’s strongest young men , up in arms, ready to strike the moment Kalia dared to touch her. Taken aback by this show of solidarity, Kalia made a run, vowing to return along with his master Khajjiar Singh and make them all pay for this insolence. And return he did, at nightfall, gunshots shook the entire village of Shivpura as the Black Bandits marched into the village on top of horses, pillaging and burning everything in their way. Khajjiar himself made way to the sarpanch’s house- hoping to meet the woman who had dared to stand up against him. As soon as he reached the sarpanch’s home, Kalia emerged dragging Chamba Devi by her hair as her parents begged him to leave her alone. Whether it was defiance or pride, nobody knows but Chamba did not utter a single shriek or show any remorse for what she had done. When produced before Khajjiar, she looked him straight up in the eye with no sense of regret or fear of what was going to happen to her. Khajjiar himself was taken aback at first by the sheer audacity of this woman but then began studying her closely and a few minutes later he spoke. No-one could believe the words that came out of his mouth- for he had ordered his men to retreat and leave the villagers alone. Yes, my friends he had fallen in love with the woman known as Chamba Devi. Her silky black hair, beautiful black eyes and sheer courage had left him smitten.
The next morning saw something that can be only described as a wonder. Khajjiar Singh and his men had turned up to the village but not with guns but rations and tools to help repair all the damage that they had done. Khajjiar instructed Kalia to go apologise to Shamsher- something that Kalia felt was beyond his dignity to do but had to do because of fear of reprimand from Khajjiar Singh. While Khajjiar himself approached the sarpanch’s house in order to catch a glimpse and hopefully talk to Chamba. And thus began Khajjiar’s attempts to woo Chamba Devi. At first she rebuffed his advances, but gradually with time, her hatred for him mellowed down and she too developed feelings from him. But unknown to all, the Sarpanch had already fixed Chamba’s wedding to Khajjiar Singh’s arch nemesis- Lord Dalhousie of the British Empire a lot of years back in exchange of being restricted from paying lagaan to the Britishers. The Sarpanch could not sprout the courage to face Khajjiar Singh and tell him about this but the way things were proceeding, the day when Khajjiar approached him for Chamba’s hand in marriage wasn’t far away. Faced with either the devil or the ditch, he somehow approached Khajjiar and told him about this misfortunate arrangement. Hell hath no fury than Khajjiar scorned, such was Khajjiar’s anger when he learnt of this arrangement. In a fit of rage, he smashed everything around him to bits and pieces and started abusing everyone around him. Then suddenly someone placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm his down, but blinded by anger he just turned and slapped the person. It was after a few seconds he realised what he had done, in his fury he had slapped his beloved Chamba. Devastated by what he had done, he just ordered all his men to pack their bags and return to their secret lair amongst the forest. And without a single word, he left…left laughing on how love was something not meant for him.

But this sordid love affair of Khajjiar and Chamba had left things uneasy amongst the Black Bandits as well. There were rumours of a spy- a bandit who had sided with Lord Dalhousie, unhappy with the way Khajjiar was leading his troops, doing rounds in camp.
On the other hand, Lord Dalhousie upon learning of the love affair of Khajjiar and his soon to be bride had vowed to destroy the village of Shivpura along with Khajjiar Singh and his men. Infact he had already amassed an army of British soldiers and had begun marching towards Shivpura from Dalhousie. Khajjiar upon learning of this calamity that was about to befall them, decided that it was time he went face to face with Lord Dalhousie and eliminate his threat once and for all and also protect his beloved Chamba. He too began preparations for the war that was to follow and started calling in the ‘Sardars’ of all the bands of dacoits of Himachal that had sworn their allegiance to him along with their men. He sent Kalia to escort all the villagers to a safe spot in the jungles.

And on the Poornmashi of Phalgun, the day that we celebrate as Holi, the war broke out. Oh yeah, Holi was celebrated but with the blood and sweat of men. Arrows pierced, horses galloped, swords clanked, shields banged against each other as crows and vultures circled above the dead bodies. The water of the lake in the middle of the ground became red with blood as dead bodies piled up. Khajjiar Singh himself seemed like a man possessed by the devil, slaughtering anyone who would dare to stand up against him. There was so much bloodshed that the battle was later famously referred to as the ‘Red Battle of Khajjiar’. The British soldiers were driven into the forests where they were no match for the Guerrilla Warfare tactics employed by the bandits. The war raged on for three days, and the British Army was on the verge of perishing until Lord Dalhousie somehow discovered the secret lair in which Chamba and the villagers were hiding. After capturing them, he sent out a proclamation to Khajjiar stating that he would execute each and every single person, if Khajjiar did not surrender by dusk and it would all begin with the execution of Chamba.

Had it been the Khajjiar who hadn’t met Chamba at all, he wouldn’t have cared at all about the innocent lives that were going to be shed that day, but all had changed. For the first time after being abandoned by his parents, he had the longing to be with someone, to be cared for, to be loved. So while the sardars debated hotly about their next course of action, Khajjiar slipped away unknown to everyone, to surrender himself and bring an end to this bloodbath. Faced with almost certain death, he approached Lord Dalhousie outside his camp, such was his fear that no British soldier dared to stop him. As the villagers watched, he agreed to surrender provided that Lord Dalhousie would spare Chamba along with the villagers & leave the bandits alone to put an end to this Battle. Lord Dalhousie vouched upon his honour that all his demands would be met, provided he accompanied them peacefully to Dalhousie as a prisoner to be produced before the Queen. But it was at that very moment that someone emerged from Lord Dalhousie’s tent that shook the ground beneath Khajjiar’s legs, for it was Kalia. It had been Kalia all along, Kalia- the spy who had leaked all information about Khajjiar Singh and his men to Lord Dalhousie, Kalia who had been responsible for Lord Dalhousie finding out that Chamba had an affair with Khajjiar and for finding out where Chamba and the other villagers were hidden in the forest. In fact it was Kalia, who was responsible for all the battle itself. In a fit of rage, he pulled out his sword and charged towards him. The British soldiers assuming that Khajjiar was about to attack Lord Dalhousie began firing at him. Out of nowhere, Chamba suddenly flung herself between the soldiers and him in order to protect her love and before they could bring Khajjiar down to the ground, he had already put a gash across the face of Kalia with his sword. Both Chamba and Khajjiar lay on the ground, trying to crawl and reach towards the other as their lives ebbed away in front of them. They say his last words were Chamba and hers were Khajjiar.
And it was in the honour of their undying love, that Shivpura was renamed as Khajjiar and the adjoining district Chamba.”

Now by this time, some girls had tears in their eyes and I- well I was just yawning. But then, something struck me as odd and I asked him what happened to Kalia. The old man got up and started leaving, but as he left he replied, well Lord Dalhousie left Kalia to die in the forest, citing the fact that when he could not be faithful to the man who he had followed for years, how could Lord Dalhousie be assured that he would not stab him in the back the next moment he got. And legend says that his spirit still wanders in this forest reciting the tale of Khajjiar and Chamba to wary travellers.
And then it struck me, the messed up face, the scar running across the length of the face- the old man was goddamn Kalia. But by now he had disappeared into the depths of the forest without leaving behind a single trace of his existence.

Coming Up Next: Why Jwala Ji was visited by Aliens and is Now a Secret Base of Operation of RAW!

 

Tidbits #1

By- Abhishek Suresh (Volunteer English Club) EEE, 1st year

Fainting

I was in Manikaran with my friends the other day, we wanted to take a dip in the hot spring. So we stripped down and caressed our feet with the searing, hot water. It triggered a tingling sensation through our spines. Then we fully dunked ourselves into the water. The heat, which was blistering initially, became soothing moments later. Since the spring was underground, beneath the Manikaran Sahib, there wasn’t much ventilation, and I like an idiot, spent too much time in the tank. My blood circulation slowed down. My brain screamed for fuel, my heart screamed for snuggles from the warm water. We all, decided to step out and go for the Langar since we didn’t have any food that morning.
Then it happened. I crawled out, up the stony steps. My vision was reduced to fading blur. The steam from the water partially blinded me. My friends’ voices were fainter than the song of the autumn breeze. My name kept echoing in my ears. Tumbling and tripping like a drunkard, I couldn’t stand on my feet, my friends latched onto me for support but their hands were no more than claws. My eyes watered, my brain dissolved into an amalgam of colours, I heard my father call out to me as I felt the curtain of life dropping down like a guillotine. Blackout.
My eyes opened, a minute later, which felt like eons. I was being carried out into the open, to let the blood flow through my parched arteries and veins. But to me, it appeared to be my kidnapping. And since my imagination knows no realistic limitations, I genuinely thought, it was the work of aliens. Logic and emotion tore away from each other, for I did not know how to breathe then and also, why I was being carried around like a corpse. “Are you alright?”, came the voice of Satyam, one of the people in our group, the voice I recognised first. “Yes..”, my lips parted like awkwardly to emit some laboured sound. I somehow managed to get on my feet and lean on a wall. There was a sharp whir and pulsating heatwaves in my fragile head. A voice called out again, according to my scrambled brain, and oblivion ushered me in. I collapsed onto my feet. I heard anxious voices, bystanders must have thought I was having a heart attack. But my brain slowly gained its auto noun and forced me back onto my feet. A lot of emotions surged through my over clocked cranium. Strangely, I ran over to my bag and pulled out my watch. I didn’t know how to tell the time. Slowly, I deciphered the date. “How long was I out?” “Not long, about three minutes” came Satyam’s voice again. After wondering, what is taking us so long to just bathe, the girls in our association of awesome people came rushing over from the Gurudwara, to find me sitting on the steps, demented, red faced, the red arising from dread, and immediately got me some glucose powder to get things kicking again. After all, they wouldn’t want their beloved cameraman to fade away for the rest of the trip.

My brain tried to perform a system restore and make sense out of things, for three minutes seemed too little compared to the Armageddon scale explosion that took place inside my body. I thought I came face to face with death, well, now I know it was an illusion, but still, at that time, I was convinced I was departing from the material world.