Time Capsule | Ft. Mehrangarh - Always Present
Time Capsule is a series capturing conversations, ideas, moments and random things I would want to revisit in the future.
In March, I went on a trip along with a couple of my friends to visit Udaipur and 2 forts nearby.
Yeah, I mean March of this year. Before the lockdown, before the era of social distancing, before the time when going out of our homes was an existential risk. This was a time when it was normal to go out and have food at a restaurant, when the world was a much safer place. Feels like a long time ago, but it was just a few months back.
The reason we went on the trip, apart from roaming around was also to check whether the other forts are as good as they seem.
They're not as good.
Obviously, This is a deeply personal and subjective evaluation. There isn't any objective truth to this. For the 3 of us, visiting the other forts, while it was nice, they weren’t the same. It didn't evoke the same feeling of awe. It wasn't as comforting. It wasn’t Mehrangarh.
It has been around 80 days since I was last in Jodhpur. For those of you who don't know, I am currently a 4th (or maybe final year) student at National Law University, Jodhpur.
I have spent most of the last 4 years in Jodhpur, on the outskirts of the blue city in our campus. 80 days, is a record for most of us when it comes to staying away from Jodhpur. And, I have been thinking about Jodhpur a lot. About the places that I used to visit in Jodhpur, and about that trip. About the reason why the three of us, collectively decided that there's no fort-like Mehrangarh.
I have settled for something. The students of my college and Mehrangarh share a special bond. It is, in some ways, inexplicable, but let me give it a shot.
The first time I went to Mehrangarh, was in my first sem. A bunch of us, who didn't really know each other, just decided that we needed to go to Jodhpur's most visited spot. As we reached the place, that first glimpse of the fort, was enough, to have a lasting impact on me.
The first thing, you see about the Mehrangarh is also probably the thing you remember the most as well. It’s the view etched into the skyline of Jodhpur. I have it embedded in my memory. The walls and the fort itself, are on the top of a hill. Almost as if Mehrangarh is staring down at you. It is imposing, and intimidating at times. The fort stands tall over you. Like it’s always watching over you.. It truly is, majestic.
Make no mistake though, the inside of the fort is just as elegant and beautiful. You get to see how the royalty lived, there's this really nice Museum which has a bunch of historical artifacts. The walls, the ceilings, the small buildings inside everything has a common thread of regality around it and some great stories attached to the fort.
But, I know, for many of us, from college, the thing that is the most memorable - is it's place in Jodhpur's skyline and the all-encompassing view of the city you get when you're at a high place in the fort. The thing, I cherish the most is the constant presence and the feeling of support that those walls evoke.
The Mehrangarh Fort has stood for over half a millennium. It has seen how things have changed in Jodhpur and the area around it. It has witnessed battles, wars, deaths and all of the unique stories and joyful moments of the people around it.
NLUJ, on the under hand, came into being at the turn of the millennium. New students started entering living in Jodhpur, in a campus, that was still being built in the early 2000s. Since then, there have been over 1000 students who have studied and graduated.
The region around the fort is a common hangout spot for a lot of the students. There are restaurants, cafes, gulab jamun shops and tiny places spread around the fort, which every single student of NLUJ has visited. At least once, in the 5 years that they have lived in Jodhpur.
We go to the old city, for a variety of reasons. Maybe I just wanted to spend a free day visiting Mishrilal, or we just need to go to someplace to blow off steam after an extremely hectic week. Maybe, it is because we want to celebrate some achievement or have that Sunday breakfast.
Whatever the reasons of why you go - when you go to the old city, to those rooftop cafes, in or around the streets, you reach a point where you can see the Mehrangarh Fort and its walls. That imposing skyline. Your breath, is always drawn away. Every. Single. Time.
Mehrangarh has been a spectator to most of the important moments and celebrations of our college life. The first time you formed a close connection with your friends, a celebratory dinner for someone who did well in a competition, or just some people gathered around to have a memorable time. It has also seen the moments where many of us might have been down. When we didn’t do well in something, or something was bothering us.
Despite being a person who liked to stay indoors, whenever, I felt college was stifling me with all of its burdens, seeing the Mehrangarh in the horizon, always took my mind off. The fort has always been present in the lives of over 1000 students, whether we realise it or not. It is an integral part of my experience over the last few years. .
Whatever mental state you're in, and especially if you're not in a good headspace. Just the existence of that wall, and that skyline, immediately, brings you back to the present, to that one single moment of awe that is taking place. Now.
That moment is important. It helps you in some way feel gratitude towards the fort. Towards the people around you, who are sharing that moment with you. Makes you realise that maybe your worries aren’t that important or big in the face of the imposing Mehrangarh. And, even if they are, there's a lesson there, iif Mehrangarh was resilient enough handle centuries of change, and bear through centuries of changes, maybe, just maybe, you also have the strength to live through all of your burdens.
It has never let me down. Much like a great friend.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit the place and see that beautiful view again. I am looking forward to it, looking forward to that moment, where I can share my experience with the fort.
The fort and the students from my college share a bond. The bond is puzzling and inexplicable. But it’s there. And it is special.