Ishq E Dilli: The show at the Old Fort



Ishq E Dilli is a light & sound show at the Old Fort. The show tells the history of the national capital mainly from the end of Prithviraj Chauhan's era.


Words cannot describe how much I love Delhi, and in order to understand my love for it you need to read (or know) 'Ithaka'; a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy (you can read the beautiful comic on the poem by Gavin Aung on this link).

My father was born in this city, and he spent his childhood here until he moved to a small town in Uttar Pradesh called Khurja. And as I was growing up, my father used to tell me stories about this city; the national capital. Hence, to me this city has been a dream since my childhood. I remember travelling to Delhi as a child and staring all around in constant awe of this city. 

Now I have been living here for almost 10 years, and to tell you honestly I am living one of my childhood dreams. As I said earlier, words cannot describe how much I love this city. But it turned out as I am not the only crazy lover this city has had. There have been several paramours in the history of this mistress of a city. You can read so many history books (like me) in order to find out about all of them, or if you are not into reading, do not worry, I have got you covered.

ISHQ E DILLI (इश्क़ ए दिल्ली -- Love for Delhi) is a magical Light and Sound show that retells the history of the national capital. The show takes place in the Old Fort premises every evening, except Fridays. There are two shows, first in Hindustani and then in English.

The show uses high end equipment for lights and sound, and is projected over the walls of the Old Fort. Written and directed by Himanshu Sabharwal, the show runs 50 minutes long and consists of two full length songs (just like Bollywood, pure entertainment).



The show begins from the time of Prithviraj Chauhan's death but also takes a flashback into the time of Ved Vyas' epic Mahabharata. From Khiljis to Mughals and British to Modern India, it covers almost every time period of the city, providing you with some really interesting anecdotes about the city and the kings who once ruled here.

I have been more than 10 times to this show, but I am still ready to go there any day. I never feel bored while watching this show and trust me, I am a really harsh critic when it comes to storytelling. 


So if you are free any evening (except Fridays), do watch this show and learn about this city and the rulers who fell in love with it. 

The show plays in an open space so do take the weather in consideration. If it rains, the administration refunds the ticket money. Also, the show's timing changes according to the seasons. 

Sept. to Oct.  7.00 – 8.00 PM (Hindi),  8.30 – 9.30 PM (English)
Nov. to Jan.   6.00 – 7.00 PM (Hindi),  7.30 – 8.30 PM  (English)
Feb. to April  7.00 – 8.00 PM (Hindi),  8.30 – 9.30 PM (English)
May to Aug.   7.30 – 8.30 PM (Hindi),  9.00 – 10.00 PM (English)

Entry fee is INR 100 for Adults, and INR 50 for Children below 14, Senior Citizens and Students. 
Remember, Fridays are off !

The nearest metro station is Pragati Maidan (Blue Line), but there is ample parking space, do take your vehicle if you'd like to.


Trip to Kankwari Fort 4: The Extraction

We had conquered the hike to Kankwari Fort, and now it was time to go back home. But first we needed to get out from Sariska and reach Tehla. Yaadav Ji gave us an idea.

The Forest Ranger Post, Kankwari


It was well over 8 AM when we started descending from the fort. Yaadav Ji had told us that the our ride would be here by 8:30 and so we hurried on our way to the village.



Yaadav Ji was sitting in one of the houses (from where he spotted us last night), and so we went straight to that house. Yaadav Ji was lounging on the cot. 


Kankwari used to be a small village. But after the Tiger resurrection program in 2008, government shifted the residents from the core area to the outskirts of Sariska. The Google Map image (year 2013) shows around 7 - 13 houses around the fort. There were only 3 left when we were there. Yaadav Ji told us that their migration is in process as well, and they will be moved out too.


The house Yaadav Ji spends his time at. Belongs to a guy named Kishore Gujjar.

I have no idea with whom Yaadav Ji will spend his time when there will be nobody there. But Yaadav Ji didnt seem to care much. We were served tea at the house. Sahaj didn't like it. 

Yaadav Ji then lead us back to the ranger post.

At the post, we checked our bags to ensure that we are not leaving anything here accidentally. We were all set by 8:30, but our ride was late. My shoes were still wet and I was dying to get out of them. 

Yaadav Ji gave us some 'instructions'; such as .. "dont show your camera to the Jeep driver.. I have told him that you were my friends visiting me and not tourists.." it was because the park was legally closed. I dont know how much trouble it could have brought on us, but we didnt pay much attention and just pocketed my cameras (battery was almost dead anyways). 

The Jeep wasn't free. Yaadav Ji told us that the Jeep costs a standard fee, but I doubt that money would ever go to the pockets of the National Forest's bank account. Yaadav Ji got a little richer that day.

We passed our time chatting with Yaadav Ji for some more time when we saw a Jeep coming our way.

It was a 4x4 Safari Jeep that stopped before the Ranger Post. Excited, we started depositing our bags in the Jeep. 

Our driver Mr Ghaansi Raam was a fun guy who unlike Yaadav Ji had mastered the art of talking to people. He told us all about Tehla. We promised to bring him a bottle of good liquor on our next trip to Kankwari. Yaadav Ji told us that he abhorred booze and so we did not dare to take out our stash anytime.


We didn't see this temple in the dark.

For some strange reason Yaadav Ji kept trying to establish that all of us were drunk when we arrived at Kankwari. Perhaps he confused our exhaustion with drunkenness. And now to thought of it, some traits of both the conditions are similar. Our feet were stumbling in a zagged manner while following him to the post in the night, and my tongue was all slurry and a dry throat did not help me communicate effectively. At night, he told us about his brother who was an alcoholic and how it ruined his life. We didnt even bring the matter of the booze in our bags after that.

There was another thing that seemed odd to all of us. When Yaadav Ji took us to his post in the night, the first question that came our way was, "Kaun jaat ho aap log?" (What caste do you all belong to?).

Living in Delhi, we are not used to being asked about our caste or origins. But being born and raised in rural UP I had certainly heard this question a lot many times. 



I laughed at the question, and it made the old ranger a little confused. But when we realised that he needed an answer, we all told him our backgrounds. He seemed quite satisfied with the caste of the people he was hosting.

When we asked him why he asked our caste, Yaadav ji told us, "There are mostly two kinds of people who come here and kill endangered species." he took a pause and then said, "Muslims and khateeks."


"Who goes there?.. and also what is your caste?"

Piyush and Abhay did not even know what the word 'khateek' meant and so they asked when we were at the fort. Sahaj and I explained it to them. All the time we were with him, Yaadav ji called us by our last names. We told him our full names, but he only took the last names in his database. He still calls me sometimes and perhaps is the only person in the world who calls me 'Sharma' (I don't use Sharma as my last name).


I wasn't surprised that a man asked me and my friends about our caste, especially a man like Yaadav Ji. What made me laugh was the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere, where people were as scarce as job opportunities in the area. And Yaadav Ji needed to know what caste we were. He had only one family to be with at Kankwari and I dont know what their caste was (though Yaadav Ji told us that they were tribals).



Yaadav Ji didnt like our cameras. This is the only shot that we have of him.

After setting our stuff in the Jeep we bid our goodbye to Yaadav Ji who took me in a corner and smiled, "Trip..." he said with a sheepish smile.

I was utterly confused, "Trip?" I repeated the word, and then  it hit me, that smile was the universal sign for the word "Tip". I  called Abhay (he was the only one who had cash by that time on him) and he tipped Yaadav Ji (generously). 

We got out of his hair after that.


Bye bye Kankwari, you beauty !

The Jeep drove away and we took one last look at the fort on the hill. I dont know about the others, but I didnt want to leave. 

The jeep rode over the terrain like it was no big deal. The river was still raging when we reached, but the Jeep cleared it like it was a damn puddle. It was my (and maybe the guys' too) first time in a 4x4 or a Safari Jeep. And if you haven't been in a 4x4 on a difficult terrain, you are missing something in your life. It give you a feel of flying.

video
The Jeep crossed the BIG SWAMP like it was nothing.


The ride back was like a recap of our hike in reverse. The people, villages, houses and faces we encountered yesterday were still there and staring at us. But now we were like some celebrities. Being in the jeep made me remember my condition just a day before.

The trail that took us around 10 hours to complete on foot, took less than 45 minutes in that Jeep. Where we were enjoying the ride, it also made us feel that our whole hike was so frivolous. 


Kankwari in the background, us in the 4x4.

Ghaansi Ram ji took us to Neelkanth Temple where Sahaj decided to stay in the jeep. Piyush, Abhay and I checked out the temple (I had been there before).

We reached Tehla before 11 and had some breakfast. Sahaj went back to the police station to get his car. We thanked Ghaansi Ram ji for his service and left for Delhi.

Ghaansi Ram ji was amazed to know that we hiked our way from Tehla to Kankwari. He said, "In my service of 16 years, I haven't seen anyone doing this."


At the beginning of the hike.
And so we became the first group who hiked from Tehla to Kankwari.


After our adventure we highly recommend not hiking to Kankwari. Sariska National Park provides Safari Jeeps for tourists. You can visit their website and book a tour.

And if you get to meet Yaadav Ji, tell him Sharma from Delhi said Hi.

End.


Trip to Kankwari Fort 3: The Payoff

Kankwari Fort, is a great example of how Karma works. It's past contains a message of 'you reap what you sow' in a wonderful story.







'Its right there.' we kept saying as we trudged towards the hill in front of us. The majestic silhouette of the fort was clear and we could even see a few details in the moonlight.

A new energy filled our cramped legs and we picked an unnatural pace for our exhausted bodies. The plans to set our tent inside the fort and enjoying the view were occupying my mind. All of us were discussing the first thing we are going to do after reaching the fort.





But as we were about to reach the foot of the fort-hill, a loud voice called out for us, "Re Kaun Hai Re?" (Who Goes There?)

This was our introduction to Atar Kumar Yaadav, the forest ranger posted in Kankwari. We greeted Yaadav Ji and told him that we were here to see the fort and spend the night here.

We were hoping the man will be impressed on knowing that we hiked all the way from Tehla, but to our surprise, he almost lashed out at us, calling this whole adventure "foolish". Yaadav Ji gave us several reasons why our mere presence in this area in the given time period was illegal. "The park remains closed for tourists from Aug - Oct. And you need permission to visit this fort from the Forest Office or some kind of local authority.", Yaadav Ji told us in a clear non friendly tone.

Dropping our bagpacks right on the ground, we told Yaadav Ji that we were in no shape to go back and needed a place to spend the night. After pausing for a moment, he stood up, grabbed his small laathi and ordered us to follow him.


"Where are we going?" Abhay asked me. 


"I dont know." I said while picking up my bag over my shoulders. Abhay stayed with me for a moment and waited till everybody else was a little further from us. He then whispered in my ear, "Do you know how to wield a knife?"


(Abhay had been quite paranoid about the village people mugging or even murdering us since we crossed a few shady characters in the villages on our way).


Confused at first, I nodded positively. To which Abhay took out his swiss knife (that we usually use to open beer bottles and such), and said, "Alright, then keep this." My body was shutting down, but I laughed so hard, "This is not a knife." I said to Abhay, wishing to have a real knife and quote Crocodile Dundee "THIS is a knife."

Yaadav Ji informed us that
 since camping in the Fort or anywhere in Sariska is not allowed, the only place for us to spend the night is the Forest Ranger Post. "I have a few cots there. You boys can sleep on them." Yaadav Ji said walking steadily.

When Piyush told him that we had our sleeping bags and could sleep on the ground, he replied, "No you can't. There are cobras here. Sleep on the cots."

I looked at Sahaj who smiled playfully. At that time we thought this old man was trying to scare us. 

We were wrong!


We reached the Forest Ranger Post and Yaadav Ji graciously opened the doors of his abode for us. He then went on to his radio set, and informed the Forest HQ about our presence. We took off our shoes and settled in.

Yaadav Ji was not friendly at all in his manner of talking and we could understand why. Cut off from the civilisation, Kankwari is a place that doesnt see many visitors, let alone people to have a casual conversation with. "He is not used to be around people." Abhay rightly concurred whispering to me.

After catching our breath and chatting with Yaadav Ji for sometime, we ate our dinner, spread our sleeping bags on the cots and fell asleep.

Around 2AM my gall bladder woke me up. I was not feeling like wearing my shoes and so I just walked out of the post with my headlamp (now I admit that it was utterly foolish of me). I peed behind the building and came back quickly. Before going back to the cot, I grabbed my camera and took some night time shots of the fort and around. 



Kankwari at 2AM (long exposure).


After a few shots, and taking in the beautiful view of the place, I went back to my cot.

Laying in my sleeping bag I closed my eyes when I heard some noise from the floor. I turned the headlamp on and the sight on the floor made every hair on the back of neck stand like a patriot during the national anthem.

There was a thick dark brown snake messing around with my bagpack on the floor. Stupidly, I had left my bag opened after taking my dinner out, and now the Nagraj was trying to find a grub inside it. I wanted to wake Abhay up, but my mind had stopped working. As I focussed the headlamp on the Cobra, it hissed angrily, making me almost shit my pants.

I turned off the lamp and crawled back into my sleeping bag. The idea of that cobra coming on my bed was giving me the shivers but then I realised even Yaadav Ji was sleeping on a cot like us. It must be safe !

I dont remember when I fell asleep.


Yaadav Ji's shrill voice was calling my name. I woke up and found it was 6:30AM. "Get up!" Yaadav Ji yelled near my head and ran out. I got up and found Piyush and Sahaj were already up in the porch. 

I asked Sahaj to check the bag, and he poked it with my monopod. Nagraj had left the building.

Piyush and I went number two in the forest, while Sahaj and Abhay decided to hold it in. After washing our faces and brushing out teeth, we saw the Sun rising from behind the hills. We were ready to go to the fort.


Yaadav Ji had told us that he could call us a Safari Jeep that could take us back to Tehla. We didnt waste any time and asked him to arrange for it. After that we started our hike to the fort. Without any bags on our shoulders, we were feeling free and light. 


Kankwari in the morning.
10 more minutes of hike, and we were at the main gates of Kankwari.


ORIGINALLY I HAD UPLOADED OVER 25 IMAGES IN THIS BLOG POST, BUT  FOR SOME REASON MY BLOG STARTED MESSING UP DUE TO SO MANY OF THEM. AFTER I TRIED REMOVING SEVERAL IMAGES, THE BLOG REGAINED ITS SANITY BACK. HENCE I AM UNABLE TO UPLOAD ALL OF THE PICTURES I INTENDED TO SHOW YOU HERE. BUT YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THOSE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.


The fort is just an enclosure surrounding a small palace. There was no requirement to build a fort here, but Sawai Jai Singh did it to provide work for his subjects when the region was hit by a famine.

Sawai Jai Singh was a 'Mirza Raja' (Senior General) of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehaan (Taj Mahal waale) and aided him during many raids and battles (especially the ones where Jai Singh fought for him in Afghanistan). Dara Shikoh, the secular crown prince was quite liberal in his views, but was a terrible general and strategist. And when Jai Singh pointed out flaws in his battle strategies, he grew bitter towards him.

Dara Shikoh used to taunt and humiliate Jai Singh at any given opportunity, but the Rajput King never said a word back (I think it was mostly because Dara Shikoh was the crown prince and fav son of Jai Singh's boss). But the irony bit Dara in the posterior when Aurangzeb imprisoned him in Kankwari Fort; the fort built by Jai Singh.


Sawai Jai Singh (left) & Dara Shikoh (right) with his wife.

In a way, Karma had planned to add insult to Dara's injury long ago when Jai Singh started this fort. The fate had planned this to pay Dara for his bitterness towards a great king, and it worked out beautifully like Clockwork! 

It was Jai Singh's payoff for silently bearing the humiliation from an inferior general.

But now it was time for our payoff. We remained in the fort for around an hour. It was a beautiful morning, and a lovely weather. We were able to see our last night's entry point in the valley.






The fort is mesmerising, not because of its architecture, but its location. The view from the bastions is simply amazing. Its a quite small fort, but what it lacks in area, it makes up with its wonderful view. 

The palace inside is quite small and symmetrically messed up. The structure had clear signs of renovations, but it was a botched up job. The original paintings were painted upon with lime powder and white paint. Weed as tall as 5 feet was all over the fort, telling us that this fort is seriously lagging in maintenance. 


A little history of the fort, and the Mahadeo Temple mentioned in the text. (From "Gazzetter of Ulwar" by Maj Powlette 1878).


The fort was almost usurped by the resort mafia a few years ago. They did some repair jobs inside the fort, which completely ruined the fort's original beauty. But a few reports in the local media forced the government to take action and the mafia was kicked out of the fort. 

However the shitty renovations have destroyed the fort's interiors now. 


There is not much to see or do in the fort, but the place just doesnt let you make you mind to leave. In that moment, I remembered the lowest points of yesterday's hike and realised that the reward was well worth all the troubles. 


I plan to go there again, but this time in a Safari Jeep.

Took this while descending


Another reminder: You can view the images of the fort by clicking here.




In the final part, we get out of Sariska in style!


Trip to Kankwari Fort 2: The Hike

We began our hike for the Kankwari Fort after arriving in Tehla. Little did we know that it was going to challenge our bodies and will.



We began our hike around 12:50. After walking through Tehla, we took a narrow road to the right and crossed a village or two until we started hearing a loud gurgling sound at a distance. It was the water from the Mangalsar Dam falling into a river. 


Dam Son! (The Mangalsar Dam) Photos: Piyush


People had gathered there to take pictures and getting their feet wet. Some locals were even swimming. We wanted to stay but decided to come back the next day.




We learned from a local that this was the heaviest rainfall recorded in years, and the river was overflowing after many years. Good news right? NO. I will tell you later why.

On our way we found several spots where the river was overflowing the road. The water was deep enough to submerge our ankles and any hiker can tell you that its not a good thing to have wet feet. We crossed several of these overflowing rivers on our way.


I SHOT VIDEOS OF US WALKING THROUGH THOSE OVERFLOWING ROADS, BUT I ACCIDENTALLY DELETED THOSE.

After we reached Dabkan (the last village on the ground level), the good road had left us behind and now it was a monstrosity of patchworks that was riddled by random holes and rocks all over the place. The climb to the Neelkanth temple was ahead of us. Sahaj decided to climb the rocks instead of walking on the road. Due to my leg injury and ‘a few extra pounds’ I was lagging behind. Abhay was kind enough to keep me company, while Sahaj and Piyush continued their rock climbing. After an hour or so, we were at the top of the mountain. My lungs were on fire, but the view from the top was breathtaking. 

(Top) View from the mountain, (Bottom) The imposing gate of Sariska Tiger Reserve.

We spent some time resting and chit chatted with a few locals. Throughout our hike, the locals were astonished upon knowing that we were hiking to Kankwari, all the way from Tehla. Maybe this was something that was either very bold or ridiculously stupid. I believe it was a little bit of both. 

On our way, Piyush lost his glasses. My prescription sunglasses gave him some relief, but I doubt he was able to clearly see the beauty of the place. Poor guy!

To understand the topography of Sariska, you will have to imagine it as a valley. Surrounded by the Aravali mountains, Sariska is a valley in the middle of a series of hills that act as natural walls. To enter the Sariska Tiger Reserve, you have to climb a hill and then descend. The local authorities provide safari jeeps on rentals, and guest houses to the tourists

On our way, we kept asking locals about Kankwari and whether we would be able to camp in the fort for the night. We got different answers from everybody we met. Some told us that the fort has a big lock, some told us the place was haunted and so we should turn back, a few told us it wont be possible to camp inside the fort, while a majority of people told us there would be no problem. Many a times we were stopped by the locals and got the offer to stay at their place but we politely refused. 


Local interactions.

Sariska Tiger Reserve is a wildlife sanctuary and so there are no utilities available; which means no electricity or even cellphone reception. Our phones were blank with no bars. But since we have dowloaded the Sariska’s map, we were able to track our movement.

Then came the part where our wet feet started creating problems. Since our shoes were soaking wet, they lost their rigidity and our toes and ankle started cramping out. We took a break after 5 or so kilometres and Abhay pointed out that I had a blister on my let foot. That was the first to come. We rested for around 10 minutes and continued.


As the sun started setting we grew worried, because the map and locals told us that we were still around 8-9 kilometres away from Kankwari. Our legs were cramping and the weight on our backs was making it even worse. And so we ended up taking small breaks at small distances, which only delayed us. And then, we saw a house with A JEEP parked in its porch. 


(L) First blister, (M) Jeep owner's house, (R) Local Berries


Quickly, we all entered the dwelling and asked for the Jeep Owner. The idea was to hitch a ride to Kankwari Fort, because by that time we were feeling no shame in admitting that our bodies were in quite a bad shape.

The owner was away, but his wife graciously invited us into her home. The woman’s mother in law came first to see us, then the kids and some neighbours. While we were on a display on their cot, they treated us with tea and local berries.

After around 15 minutes or so the Jeep Owner arrived and we asked him if he could drop us to Kankwari. But the man told us that there is no road after his village. Though he was ready to take us back to Tehla.

Without any means of transport to Kankwari, we decided to continue on foot. But we asked the man if he would be available to drop us to Tehla the next day. The man agreed and we promised to come back around 10-11 AM the next day.

We continued our hike, and realised why the man refused. The road soon ended after we exited his village and suddenly, even the trail ended. We were standing before a large pond filled with algae and god knows what. 

I checked the map on my phone and found a small trail around the pond. The weed was as tall as us and the mud was quite shallow. Jumping over potholes we finally flanked the pond and got back to the trail that was quite muddy. We were entering another village and the Sun was already down.

At that point, the map seemed to be messing with us. No matter how far we walked, it showed almost the same remaining distance as earlier. It was like those moments in office when you are just waiting for the time to be over, but it crawls at a snail’s pace.

Soon, it was dark and we found another local who graciously invited us to spend the night at his dwelling. We again politely refused and continued. Another gurgling sound was heard at a distance, and soon we were standing at the bank of a raging river in darkness.

That moment, all of us had given up. We took down our bags and sat. Except for Sahaj and Abhay, who found two locals crossing the river from the other side. They observed how they crossed the river and suggested we follow their tracks. It was time to bring out my lights. 

For the trip, I had brought a headlamp and a flashlight with me. Apparently, nobody else in the group had an idea to take any illumination device. We again divided into two teams; this time I was with Sahaj and Piyush was with Abhay. We marked two spots to cross the river. Sahaj and I started from our spot while Piyush and Abhay were still busy taking off their shoes. 



Imagine crossing this water. Only we did in the darkness of the night.

Sahaj was behind me and the raging water made him panic. The water that was ankle deep near the shore, was above our knees in the middle. Besides the riverbed was filled with jagged rocks. It was difficult to find proper footing in the river, and I was using my monopod as a hiking pole. Abhay and Piyush were struggling because their spot was filled with thorny weeds under water. And suddenly Sahaj lost his footing in the strong current and grabbed my shoulder, but in panic, he pushed me. I fell into the river, and noticed my phone and camera going in the water. It was my mistake that I did not secure my devices by putting them in the bagpack.

I quickly got up and yelled at him for freaking out, but then realised he was still in panic mode. I asked him to grab my monopod and follow me. We reached the other side and collapsed. Abhay and Piyush were struggling on their way to our side. As they crossed the river, we come to know that Piyush had hurt his leg and was going to take some time, so Sahaj and I started on our own. Abhay stayed with Piyush.


The river intersecting the Access road to Kankwari.

I checked my camera, and was relieved to see that it was working. However, my phone was gone. I was in a pretty bad mood and was blaming Sahaj (who was walking beside me). But then it hit me, I was in the middle of nowhere after dark with my friends. We had no idea where we were going to spend the night, or what was waiting for us at the end of this hike. And suddenly, I realised that the waterlogged phone was the least of my worries. As we looked around, we were still surrounded by tall hills. 

It was beautiful !



Our view at the night.

Sahaj and I met a local, who told us that a few kilometers ahead of us was a small village called 'Kaaniyawaas'; where a milk carriage arrives every morning and goes back to Tehla. It filled our feet with a new energy and we decided to check the place out.

After around 40 more minutes, Sahaj and I reached Kaaniyawaas and the men there happily agreed to take us back to Tehla. We were asked to be there by 9:30 in the morning, after which they were to leave without us.



We crossed the last village and were standing in the Kankwari valley. But now no trail was visible. A shepherd earlier suggested us to follow the cattle, but the buffalos were only interested in going to small ponds. While Sahaj and I looked around for a trail, Abhay and Piyush joined us. Abhay used his phone to check the GPS and we got back on the route.



After we crossed two more water crossings, we were looking at a big hill with a Fort atop ahead of us. 




We were there !


And there it was, for our taking


In the next part, we meet Yadav Jee (the forest ranger), who deny us the permission to go to the fort, a cobra enters my bagpack, and we get the sweet reward of the trip.


Trip to Kankwari Fort 1: Arrival in Tehla

Kankwari Fort is a small hill fort in the Alwar district.





Situated in the core area of Sariska Tiger Reserve, this fort is located literally in the middle of nowhere. Not many people know about it and that is what makes it so beautiful.

In July 2016, I got a chance to visit the ancient Neelkanth Temple near a village called Tehla. After I returned, I was adding pictures to the Google Map when I noticed something. The map showed a road going from the temple to a fort named Kankwari. I instantly googled the fort and obsession took me over. 


The fort was built by the Rajput King Sawai Jai Singh I as a famine work. The year of the construction is not known, but it must have been sometimes between the years 1625 - 1650. After Aurangzeb fought his brothers over the Mughal throne, he briefly imprisoned his brother Dara Shikoh in this fort before transferring him to Delhi (where he was eventually executed).

In the next few days I gathered as much information I could on Kankwari Fort and put together a plan with a few friends to visit this place. With a group of 4 people, we decided to hike to this fort after reaching Tehla.

On 14th August, our group started from Delhi around 5AM. I was accompanied by my friends Sahaj, Abhay and Piyush. We had a 4 people tent, sleeping bags, and rations to last a full day. 

The Team: Sahaj, Abhay, I, Piyush

We stopped at Manesar for breakfast and then resumed our journey. But instead of taking the straight NH48 I proposed that we take a different road to enjoy the scenic route. The guys agreed and it turned out to be a good choice as there was almost no traffic.


The road less travelled is often filled with gigantic potholes. Making it the road less travelled.


The marks of rainfall were all over and lush green fields welcomed us on both sides of the road. And then we reached a small village called Bibipur. I remember the name of this village because this was where the road ended. Instead of smooth open road, now we had giant potholes filled with rainwater. 


This is the Good Road

We were in a Maruti Suzuki Swift that was used to be driven on the beautiful roads of Delhi. But somehow Sahaj managed to take us out of this mess and as we crossed Naya Gaaon (the village), the road was visible again. It took us around two more hours to reach Alwar. 

Around 11 AM we entered the Sariska National Park and suddenly the whole view changed. The distant hills of Aravali suddenly came a lot closer and grew taller. We were driving inside the valley and the smooth road was a surprised.


Welcome to Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary,
Where the life is simple and the view is pretty!


As we reached Tehla, we took a break to buy water and eat something. But before we could begin the hike, we realised there was a problem; our car needed a parking space for the night. Some local folk suggested that we park the car in the Police Station. Our hobnobbing and pandering didnt yield any result, but then we told them that one of us belonged to the family of a Police Officer from UP. And suddenly everything was sorted out. The car was safely parked, and we started on our hike.

We were falling back on our initial plan to hike to Kankwari, but according to the locals, the route we chose was closed. Google Map showed us a trail of 15 KMs from Tehla to Kankwari. We came to know that this route goes through the infamous Kaali Ghaati and was cut off due to heavy rainfall. 


(L) Hike trail we planned, (R) Hike trail we took.


Now we had only one route; to go to the famous Neelkanth Temple (that I visited last month with my family) and hike to Kankwari from there. The Kaali Ghaati route was 15 KMs in total from Tehla to Kankwari Fort. And this new route had added another 6-7 KMs to our route. We discussed it and decided to hike instead of hiring a jeep until Neelkanth Temple. The first thing we did was to buy loads of water that made our bags quite heavy. 

Scenes from Tehla 


The Tehla Fort (we left it unexplored)

Each of us was carrying 3 litres of Water. We had also brought a bottle of whiskey and vodka with us (for obvious reasons), and nobody thought of transferring the liquor into plastic bottles to reduce the weight of the glass bottles. But we continued.

We begin our hike around 12:50. After walking through Tehla, we took a narrow road to the right and crossed a village or two until we started hearing a loud gurgling sound at a distance. 

In the next part, we meet the beautiful views and people, cross a raging river, loose our trail in darkness and almost give up on the hike.