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30 December, 2015

The first I heard of Sheopur was from Stefan, a Canadian acquaintance, who I ran into at Gwalior fort. I had acquainted him at a meditation centre over a year ago; he hurled such a jolly smile upon encountering me unexpectedly. He told me how his calling always inclined toward forts and palaces; a pursuit he enthusiastically spoke about mentioning Jodhpur, Amer, Jaisalmer, Gwalior, Sheopur, etc. As he uttered the last word, I lent all ears for the intriguing description of the place, and the kind of excitement he spoke with would usher anyone in imagining how the place would be like!

Before he even completed I had put my foot down to plan an excursion to Sheopur, a place I’d never heard before. Having only one day to invest, I started off as the dawn broke. Sheopur lies 200 km from Gwalior. A pleasant weather and smooth road made me rev my four wheel drive without hesitation. Having skipped the breakfast and followed by a drive of straight three hours, I nearly famished and found solace in a meal upon reaching Sheopur.

Thereafter, off I rode to spy the place my friend had sung of; Sheopur Fort.It unfolded before me in a charming state; a bit deteriorating plight and hardly had visitors around. Lying on the bank of river Seep, the fort was evidently smaller than the renowned ones but what separated it from all was a kaleidoscope of varying architectural styles patronized by number of rulers who possessed it. The fort exhibits architectural styles of the Mughals, the Rajputs and the Scindias.

Rumoured to be erected in the eleventh century, the fort had been an object of conquest for Mewar rulers, Allauddin Khilji and Shershah Suri. However, it was taken over by the Mughal Sultanate in the 16th century.

It fell in the hands of Scindias who occupied it until independence. Now it is looked after by the State Archaeology of Madhya Pradesh.

Finishing my tour of the fort, I headed towards the local market famous for locally made teak and timber items. Renowned widely for woodcarving, the skilled men here transform different kinds of wood. The craftsmen specialise in shaping pipes, toys, windows, bedposts, flower vases, doors, etc.

The concluding spot in my journey was Doob Kund. Legends speak of an extinct town called Dom, capital of the Kachhwaha kingdom. At the same place, one may now find the huge “Chaubisi of Jain Tirthankar”. At the heart of it lies the Doob Kund where, in the medieval period, statues were sunk. Hence, it was named Doob Kund. Located amid lush greenery, the history of this site dates back to eleventh century.

A subtle, warm trip neared its conclusion as I pulled over at a local shop for evening chai and tempting hot Samosas!! “Bhaiya elaichi waali, kam shakkar aur thodi kadak”, I asserted to the guy at tea stall. “Ji saab”, in his tone there was an assurance that the product would meet my specifications
The sun was resting over the horizon. Its rays gleamed MP tourism’s hoarding at a distance. ‘Gwalior 209 KM’ I read, standing underneath a crimson sky.

Swapnil Gaur
For mptravelogue.com

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