A Damsel In Distress

‘Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on fire’ splashed the eight o’clock headlines in national television – much ostensible to the rest of the country which: fundamentally is every other state other than the involved states. So did newspapers, published across the country with a picture of arsonists and people(like us?) vandalising. Marking the spate of fires in Karnataka as an upshot of the forever ongoing Cauvery issue. While the regional ones used it as an advertorial; favourably disposed towards their origin.

A few months ago, the communal riots in Malda came under limelight much later than it should have, while the riots in Dadri gathered national heed mostly as a result of the ‘breaking news’, we all are used to. With all respect, when Jama Masjid  is swarmed by hundreds and thousands of people everyday, how many of us know about Panchakki, an engineering-architectural marvel to the west of India.

The reality which lies behind the ostensible.

While there are postulations explaining the situation – of Delhi being the political headquarters of India. Unfortunately, as an inevitable corollary, Delhi gaining the status of media headquarters as well. As an outcome, regions around the national capital getting all the attention which is shared by the rest 28 counterparts.

A well-known journalist called this the ‘tyranny of distance’, slurping some tea sitting in his office in New Delhi, India.

But is the complete of Delhi itself, on a level playing field? There are places often(more often than people or episodes), overlooked due to its geography or outweighed by a more glamorous neighbour?

This Damsel pushed her way through the throng, that day. She was visiting one of the most celebrated place in her country; around 150 miles from the national capital. Jostled by a horde of fairly excited souls from all over the globe to visit the marble beauty: Taj Mahal.

Famished; spending almost half-a-day just getting into it; a tourist guide coaxing around; she rubbed her eyes, worn out as she trod her weary way out. A week later, she plans to take a heritage walk around South Delhi. Given her previous experience, she started early with some snacks to her rescue; envisaging an overcrowded place, planning to handle it better this time. An hour later, she was standing outside the packed Qutub complex, baffled. She started walking to a park adjacent to the complex and, she stood, baffled. Again. Here’s what she saw.

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The meat is, she was the only soul this time. She found the place not any lesser than the other two. They were all under the surveillance(?) of the archaeological survey of India. It is the Mehrauli archaeological park; a less-known jungle in South Delhi. Intrigued by her first sight, she walked in further just to find these.

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It was like one of those walks in History channel. She found more and more as she trod, more remote ; Scattered emotions; content for what she saw, definitely not for how they were. This ain’t the Delhi she had studied about… She lost and found her way, a few times. A prod on her right shoulder; she turns to a guy in his mid-thirties with a queer smile in a security gear. He asked if she was alone and probed more; held her right wrist, tight and demanded money emphasising the place wasn’t too far from the place where Nirbhaya was torn into pieces. She grasped she wasn’t loud, by any means; gave what he demanded and quickly found her way out.

Initially an unsung, now an unsafe place she thought; her frame of mind, damaged just like the buildings she witnessed.

Picture courtesy : Jayashiree Elango

Place : Meharauli archaeological park

Conservation by Indian National trust for art and cultural heritage, under the care of Archaeological survey of India.

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