Reading through the evolution of Indian civilization has always been a sport like any other outdoor activity. When this sport finds its bonding with cycling, it is a recipe for disaster, like Cancer & Aries.
Being a Cancerian I have already had a burning sensation still live on coming in contact with an Arian species. On similar notes this combination of Historical Monuments with Cycling on modern roads is transforming an arm chair warrior into a combat warrior. It is tempting the seeker in me to come out of the comfort of sitting on my favourite foam couch with some drinks and whole lot of books, to venture into the fields, to explore the fact and fiction with eyes and hands.
Here comes an another sweet Sunday in the month of July. But this is a bit different from the previous ones, as this one is coming after a whole seven days week of 12 hour enervating night shifts in office. Running through the week till Saturday morning, and whole Saturday managing extended affairs it’s almost 12 in night. Time for morning reporting for cycling briefing is 0600 Hrs. Sleep is the necessity now, alarm was put for 0500 hrs next morning and time to jump onto the pillow. Night was quick and off goes the alarm bell. Getting through routine and shower with in half an hour taking out my ride finally by 0530, I was on the way towards first destination.
I Reached destination 4 minutes late, two members are alredy there, expecting one more to join. By 0630 hours our team of four is complete ready to ride on the roads. Starting off from North Fountain through wide roads of Luteyans Delhi, Raisina Road then taking round about to Janpath, cruising through a bit of traffic we were riding at India Gate in short span. Expectations for some cool breeze are in vain.Temperature is not high in morning but wind is invisible as always. Humidity is high, making our body oil-wet. Passing through cars and bikes we encountered a few more batches of cycle enthusiasts like us but in completely professional attire unlike us easy going chaps. The cycle gangs are pretty common sight on any day in this part of the city, may be due to more enlightened citizens or due to better roads and less traffic in this part of the city.
Passing through India Gate, reaching Teen Murti Round About has already taken a heat toll on our first team member. She has to return back to the pavillion, because of unusual tiredness. We three continued our forward journey.
Teen Murti memorial has been focus of news channels recently, due to visit of our Prime Minister’s Israel visit. This memorial has been commissioned by the British to mark the bravery and valor displayed by three forces of erstwhile princely states of Mysore, Jodhpur and Hyderabad during World War 1. Israel connection comes due to place of war. Haifa was the city in Israel which was saved by these Lancers against the Turk invaders of Ottoman Empire. Four years after Indian soldiers had liberated Haifa from Turk Rule, in 1922 Teen Murti memorial was constructed, to honour the bravery of Indian Soldiers. They had with just Lance’s and swords, defeated Turks, who were fighting with heavy artillery and machine guns, and had ruled over Haifa for 402 years.We passed through Teen Murti, with proud feelings, towards our next milestone, Malcha Marg.
On the way towards Malcha, passing through diplomatic area with embassies and high commissions of different nations, looming large on us, we are on Panchsheel Marg.
Panchsheel, term being coined by first Prime Minister of Independent India, refers to the list of five (Panch), principles agreed upon by India and China for Peaceful Co-existence. Though people in strategic circles have always doubted the existence of such principles on ground. 1962 war declared by China on India, China’s strategic and economic support to enemy state of India, border disputes being escalated by China now and then, and opposition to India’s entry to world policy making platforms have been the reasons of distrust towards China.
Humans are made to make mistakes, sometimes large, sometimes small.
Continuing on Panchsheel, we took a slight wrong turn and missed the target in first hit. We took left turn on Sardar Patel Marg, realised as if some blunder has been done. There comes the Google for help, we took left on Manas Marg, then again left on San Martin, reached Panchsheel Marg again. Finally taking right turn on Sardar Patel Marg and cruising through service lane in opposite direction reached the T-point at Malcha Marg. Malcha Village has its own story of life and death, referred to in my previous blog, but our target was on opposite side of the Malcha Marg, Bistdari Marg.
Bistdari Marg is on the space technology map of India, unknown to many, because of the road leading inside the dense vegetation area and ridge to the Earth Station in Delhi. Still our target was neither Bistdari Marg nor The Earth Station, we were looking for that infamous Malcha Mahal. By the time our watch clocked 0730, and we reached on the other side of Sardar Patel Marg, anxious and eager to venture inside the dense ridge, a number of monkeys and a couple of Supines ready to welcome us, our second wicket fell. Another team mate had to retire, as she is concerned about her distance to be travelled after venture to home on cycle again. Sending her back to pavilion to join the previous mate, we two are venturing now to take the Haunted House head on.
Riding on metalled road inside ridge is a luxury we got, because of the earth station. Trin-Trin had to be done to tell the brave majmuns about our right of way on road. They were cooperative and did let us go without any hindrance, else we were ready to retaliate also. Riding under jungle like scenery, on a bit slant was not tough, as we were already warm. Reaching near Earth Station, found no one ready to talk about the Malcha Mahal, even saying that Google and everyone is giving false information about existence of any such place there. But we were well researched with not only Google and individual accounts but through related books on History. Books have provided information about the presence of a Tughlak times hunting lodge built by Mohd. Bin Tughlak, like a couple of other ones built by him around his extended capital. These lodges are now trapped within in the city due to expansion in city limits. All of them fell in utter ignorance after Mughal rule ended.
Google had thrown open a story no less than Pandora’s box. Old news paper clippings indicate story of a lady belonging to Oudh Royal Family. She fought her way, after living on New Delhi Railway Platform for eleven years. A blog and some more after taking inspiration from it, indicate of a story after that. The Princess being allocated this lodge near Malcha Marg, henceforth called as Malcha Mahal, by none other than the then Prime Minister of India as a make shift arrangement, till final call on the issue is taken, subsequently suicide committed by the Princess by consuming crushed diamonds, the living conditions of the alive Prince and Princess being deplorable.
All the stories related seem to be true, as everything came interconnected, but exploring truth your own way is a disease which gives pleasure.
Venturing for an hour in the area on foot and on bicycle didn’t yield any fruitful results though. Vegetation has grown quite much due to monsoon. To not to disturb the tranquility and peace of the ridge and security personnel deployed at station we didn’t perform any tactical manoeuvring for intrusion. Going sideways venturing into a nearby Sufi Shrine, to find a person willing to talk about infamous stone structure, but found all vacant.
News paper vendors and milk man are the signs of life when whole world is still sleeping before sunrise, as said by my buddy. Here the news paper vendor appeared as a life line for our inquisitive brains. He left his cycle loaded with his raw material for the day to be distributed, in the ridge unlocked. We asked him a couple of things so as to solicit maximum information without letting him realise much. Only useful info was that he doesn’t has much info despite serving news paper for 22 years. Much of the stories available on internet could not be verified, through our one hour efforts, may be some more man hours were needed to get the job done, but we had our mates waiting for us.
Finally tracing back our roots, we started our Journey to complete our round of Sunday Karma. This time striding with force, testing our thighs and pumping blood in largest muscles. As usual my buddy did beat me with 100s metres ahead in seconds. Passing through the Kushak Road and discussing parts of a history so dense and deep to explore, we reached Vijay Chowk. Our Team mates were already waiting for us to join them. It’s time for another Photoshoot for what’s app group. Packing our rides into car dickey and we headed for our regular feast at Pappu.
Looking forwars for another Sunday Sojourn in coming days to find out more of unknown.
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