For one whose search within reflects outside in the exploration of the unknown, the challenges are but many, for the territory is never known, nor studied in books and internet before. Gwalior was one such for me. All I knew was I wanted to go there to visit.
Travelling out from Mathura on what we call a ‘chaloo ticket’, I sat in the reserved compartment for the two and a half hours to Gwalior from Mathura, on the Goa Express. Needless to say, the ticket collector was unhappy but let it pass with the fine. He was duly rewarded with a Cup Of Railway Coffee, which if you are not on the Indian Train, you would never have drunk it with so much joy. Once in Gwalior, I hastened to book my reservation back to Delhi, but no sooner than I was near the counter, a sight attracted me so much, that instead of buying a ticket, I was off to the Sound & Light Show on top of the Gwalior Fort, an autorickshow having dropped me to the bottom of the massive stone on which is carved the impressive and beautiful Gwalior Fort. Stranded at the bottom of the Fort, on a dark night when the sky threatened to break into rain, I was saved at the nick of time by a young man on a motorbike, who very kindly took me as a pillion rider up the 2 kms rough ride up to the top, where the Sound & Light Show would take place. As I walked without a torch, in pitch darkness to the counter selling tickets, I wondered, how I was going to come down after the show, to the base camp, at the foot of the Fort.
“He provides,” the man at the counter said, “there is a Gurudwara here on top, where you might like to stay the night?”
Gwalior Fort and its surroundings are not lit in the night, perhaps for security reasons. After the 45 minutes Show, me and two others, who were the only viewers of this show, we found our way, using our mobile phones to light up the way to the Gurudwara at a walking distance from the main Fort area, where we were there.
“A room for the night for a single woman? Where am I going to manage that?” the perplexed sevak at the entry asked.
“I can sleep on a charpoy in the courtyard.” I suggested.
But he would not have it and offered to put me up in his room. All three of us ate at the langar and then my friends left on a motorbike, which they had come up too on.
I had put an alarm on my mobile for 4 am. I wanted to take some early morning shots of the fort, before dawn. But the Granth Sahib is chanted from 3 am and I woke up naturally at 4 am, to the sound of the recitation.
“Wahe Guru!” I muttered as the door flung open. It was the sevak. He walked into the room and I said, “Sardar ji, bus nikal hi rahi thi – I am leaving just now.”
Gently refusing his request to stay one more night, I went into the group shower for ladies and found many women already taking their bath under taps which were high on the wall. I joined them, naked in my birth suit. How empowering a homosocial feeling, this, when women are all naked without a shred of clothing on their bodies, having a bath together! Bliss!
Yet, it did cross my mind even as I bathed, are the women looking at my body or are they looking at the new face, among them? I turned to look at the one next to me, a beautiful earth colour body, with wet hair glistening in the morning water.
I was done soon and rushed out first to the Gurudwara and then to my photo session.
To See the Pictures CLICK HERE
About Gwalior Fort Click Here
More information and personal guide: Dr Pramesh Dutt Sharma, Email; firstname.lastname@example.org