What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
I had a childhood dream…
I am bestowed with two boons by Satyajit Roy’s the mighty King of Ghosts. One, the freedom to travel anywhere…I just need to close my eyes and think about the place. And two, I can be invisible as and when I wish. Empowered, I opened my history book and started reading…
Suddenly the sky became bigger. Mud roads, horses, bullock carts…and lots of greenery swallowed me up. People around me are strangely dressed, busy doing different kind of jobs. Far away in the horizon, atop a hill, there’s a fort. A huge fort; standing at one end, the other end cannot be seen. Wearing turbans and clad in colourful tunic, fierce looking guards are picketing outside the fort wall. Some of them are loitering on the wall-roof; some are in the watch towers.
From the other horizon, a cloud of dust starts nearing the fort. The guards get alerted. They took positions. Within minutes he came. He, the King. He came riding a gold-plated chariot. Pulled by five horses, the chariot whizzed past the massive Iron Gate.
I sneaked into the fort. There stands an enormous palace; so beautifully crafted. Never-ending hallways, decorated pillars, doors and windows, huge lanterns – an aura of opulence prevailing everywhere. Behind the palace, there’s an endless backyard. Trees, flowers and the chirping birds – sitting among them is the Princess, humming the tune of the birds, lost in herself.
Who’s the Princess? I wondered.
It’s me! I fantasized.
I have always wished at least one of my childhood dreams to be a reality. Didn’t you?
I know you did. Who doesn’t?
So the moment I came to know that there are the remnants of a fort, I went all out to make sure this trip to Garhpanchkot happens.
Garhpanchkot is a Santali tribal village, very near to the Maoist-dominated area of the Purulia district of West Bengal. The place was an unexplored tourist spot till it came to fame thanks to the two dams recently built – The Panchet dam on river Damodar and Mython dam on river Barakar; and the DVC power grid.
We, I was traveling with a friend and her mom, reached Garhpanchkot around 12 at noon. It’s about 5 hour journey from Kolkata. We put up at the WBFDC forest resort. After freshening up, we started towards the fort…
Deep inside my mind, something was going on. I don’t know what it was. Did you ever get a chance to fulfill your childhood fantasy? Then you might know.
Dusk set in as we reached the doorstep of the King’s place. Time has unruffled the ancient king’s vigor. What was once an epitome of power and prosperity now stands crestfallen, left with a few structures scattered here and there. With the forever faithful Panchet hill keeping guard, the kingdom seems to have gone to an eternal sleep.
I touched the wall of an archway which used to be the Ranimahal, the residence of the Queen. I inhaled the air of the ancient world. I sat on a broken footstep of a watch tower.
I was shivering! An insignificant commoner I am, dweller of a far-off century - dared to make my way to the heart of His Majesty’s place!
I was staring blankly at a hedge of the primeval Panchratna temple. In the red hues of the setting sun, it was looking magnificent. It was looking so clean. Little by little, the weeds and creepers fall off. The broken archway took shape. The halls, the doors, the windows stood up. The palace is glittering like gold in the heavenly sun rays. Through the window I can see the beautiful backyard. I can smell the scent of the flowers. I can hear the birds’ singing. And…yes! I can…I can see a human figure amidst them!
-Sangeeta, where are you?
I startled. I looked back. Auntie’s calling. I looked forth. The sun has set. The palace, the backyard, the human – all are gone. The hedge is fading away in darkness…I couldn’t meet myself.
I was sitting at a place where Auntie cannot see me. She got worried.
We humans are social being. We love to have people around us. We feel good when someone get worried for us, whatever be the reason. No happiness is joyful enough if it’s not shared. Sadness can take life if there’s no hand to console. But sometimes, just sometimes…being left alone is the most blissful thing you want.
A leaf from the History:
Panchkot was a part of a very old East Indian kingdom called Rajchakla Panchkot, locally named as Panchet. It was established probably during early 90 AD by Damodar Sekhar with the help of Sardars of Jhalda. The kingdom derives its name from the main five (Panch) clans (Kot) of the locals.
The ruins of the Garh (fort) of Singh Deo dynasty, founded by Damodar Sekhar, located at the southern foothills and a group of temples are still standing there. The most famous being the Panchratna temple.
Panchkot Giri has its references in Puranas also. The place was then called Sekhar Bhum.
For more: http://www.wbfdc.com/gpkt/historical-ruins.html