Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Magnificent Discovery

Well that title could be "the discovery of a magnificent fort" right next to my medical school. I have been looking for a good place to take a long morning walk. So I tried going south, west and north of my place here in Delhi. However the problem was that I could not go in any of the three directions for three-four blocks without the bad smell. I could not go east because the door on east side was always locked in the mornings. Yesterday I found that there is another door on the east side just a little north of the locked one. So I went east today. There is a very wide road next to the medical school. It is about four lanes wide in each direction. On the other side there were always some ruins about a hundred yards from the road. I went in the direction of the ruins.

The ruins were guarded by a policeman, who wanted me to buy a ticket for Rs 5. That is why the place was empty! It needs a ticket to get in! I was happy to spend the 12.5 cents that was the price of the ticket. But the ticket window was closed, since it was too early. So I bullied the guard on my way in, without paying the 12.5 cents!

I went in and what magnificent ruins these were. I was seeing them for the first time! This fort was built by Kotla, one of earliest Islamic Kings of India. This would have been about year 1315 AD. The fort goes on and on towards the east. From the ruins you could imagine what it would have been during its glory days. It is pretty large, about twice the size of Rose Bowl with all the parking area included. The walls are about three feet thick with a lot of narrow slits for the archers. There are ruins of a lot of rooms inside. The fort also has an Ashoka Pillar. This was a total surprise for me. I had read during the Grand Gupta Tour of India that there was an Ashoka Pillar in Delhi. But I had no idea it was within walking distance from my medical school where I had spent six years.

The Ashoka pillars have a grand history. They were erected by King Ashoka about 300 B.C. This one was brought from a distant city and erected by Kotla when he constructed the fort. Ashoka ruled from Pakistan to Thailand. He has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. He erected numerous such pillars all around his empire. His teachings are inscribed on the pillars. There are only about seven left now. I think I am going to go there every day for a morning walk, preferably before the ticket window opens!

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