After returning from vacations, I write my experiences in my diary.  I begin with expressing gratitude for joy of visiting a new place. I’m grateful for the means of transport available to reach the location and joy and safety of the journey. I’m grateful for the comfortable stay, the food we eat and the health and safety till the end of the journey. 

I’m especially interested in visiting historical locations like Hampi, Bidar, Warangal , Mandu etc. However, not all visits leave me feeling joyful. At Hampi, we marvelled at the ruins of the Vijayanagar empire (once ruled by the famous king Krishnadeva raya with the help of the wise pandit Ramakrishna of Tenali). We wondered how such a powerful and advanced kingdom was brought to its knees by invaders of a different faith. The invaders did not just conquer the kingdom but destroyed the marvellous monuments because they offended their faith. They ultimately left the land and the people in ruins. 

A similar display of devastation greeted us at Warangal, the capital of the once mighty Kakatiya rulers (once ruled by the brave queen Rudramadevi).  There the ruins of palaces and temples ere surrounded by mosques and shanties, a far cry from the beauty and glory of the olden days.

Bidar and Mandu were also dotted with places taken over and destroyed by the invading forces. It was painful to see how sculptures of our beloved deities were defiled and even placed in a way that ensured their constant insult (like placing them on the stairs of mosques). 

These places served as reminders of the defeat of our ancestors which made my eyes moist and my head bow down in shame and sorrow for the torture suffered by them. However, in a sharp contrast to these places, a completely different experiences awaited me in the Maratha forts in the Sahyadris.

At the Pratapgad fort, a sword on display at the Bhawani temple, is a constant reminder of the exemplary might and valour of the Maratha soldiers who fought to protect their motherland and way of life. In remembrance and tribute to these brave souls, my eyes were moist with overflowing gratitude to the ones to whom I owe my existence, liberty of life and faith. With head held high and chest swelling with pride I joined my fellow travellers as our cries of “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji” travelled far and wide. 

How can I not be grateful for such an uplifting experience..!

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Hiral Rai

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