Lack of connectivity/availability between Bhopal and Kolkata as well immense pressure to get back to work all together crafted my brisk, whirlwind visit to the famed Fort of Jhansi this February. I had only 1.5 hours buffer to catch onward Shipra Express from Jhansi in wee hours after overnight journey from Bhopal in BPL-LKO Garib Rath.
I alighted at Jhansi Jn around 4AM in the morning and found the transit going to be longer about 4.5 more hours. Taking a short nap in the waiting room about an hour, I could not tolerate anymore. Took up the backpack and came out. Hired an auto and straight to the business, which fate has acciodentally facilitated, the desire of seeing the place of Rani of Jhansi.
With the first rays of Sun, I found myself in front of the huge entrance of the little yet fabled fort. No tourist even dared to arrive at this hour in biting cold, not even the ticket clerks only morning walkers/joggers roaming around. As the clock struck 6 AM ticket windows opened and I had just about an hour.
This was not a tourist highway like Agra, Jaipur or Jodhpur. There was no audio guide neither an human one. There are signages but route, description, guidance for a visitor in hurry is non existent. But a local maintenance staff helped me and took me to a whirlwind guided tour inside the fort.
There are few mahals or palaces still remaining after the destruction caused by the british. There are temples, dark huge stairs leading to the bastions where couple of old canons still lying overlooking the town. The gallows, secret chambers, the place where Rani Laxmibai, the valiant teenager Queen refused to bow down to conspiracy of the British, jumped off the cliff along her toddler riding over the horse to escape the British seige. Later, she reorganized her supporters and launched a massive campaign against the British to reoccupy her fort and finally martyred in the battle.
The hour elapsed as I was awestruck not by the architecture or the grandeur but the courage, patriotism and valor of an Indian lady raised in conservative, traditional culture who lived a little more than two decades only, died only in the battle field shaking the British Empire and remain immortal in memories even after 160 years.