There were a very few subjects at school that I really bothered to study. The tales of battles, wars, Ibn Battuta’s travels, kings and queens, and lost treasures fascinated me to no end, making History one of those “very few” subjects.
Until, of course, a new teacher walked in and made History as boring as any subject could ever be. My history classes ended in listening, very vaguely, to chapters being read in a parrotish way by some classmate.
I tried to go back to the tales at home, but this going back wouldn’t get me any marks.
Learning by rot rather than understanding was imperative. Thus, I gave up. My interest caught a flare again when I visited Rajasthan, walking its huge forts. So with all the lost glee, I dived back, straight into the world where India was a battleground for Ghajini and his likes.
Continuing my voyage across these forts, I landed at Kangra Fort last month.
It looked magnificent, even when some of its stretches were all in ruins. Blasted by the British, a beastly earthquake and other invaders, it still looked awe-inspiring. Built as much for defense as for attack, this fort was an experience I can’t put into words. Sitting at the confluence of three rivers, the fort had giant archways, an ancient temple, fascinating architecture and many tales.
Tales of treasures hidden in wells inside the fort, tales of queens jumping into cliffs to evade capture from the invading troops, and tales that connected it to the very interesting world of Hindu mythology.
Some parts of the fort were in shambles, with creepers crawling up the walls, moss spreading itself on tiled walkways, and crumbling pillars. The ruins lent it an air that was more real than any history book.
The Dhauladhars looked like its guardians, at peace and as calm as ever, with bits of snow that had started to fall in the upper reaches. While I saw the sun taking a dive from Kangra Fort’s roof, a certain warmth crept in. That old feeling of joy in stories was finding its way back, slowly but steadily.
The sky was oranger than I had ever seen, beautiful with mountains sparkling in what looked like molten gold.
Perhaps, this is how history is supposed to be taught; an easier way to let kids know that they ought to be proud of where they belong rather than bored.