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.


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!