I have been visiting the fort of Panhala for more than a decade now. I fell in love with that place in my first visit itself. I was a small kid back then, but the connection I felt with that place was overwhelming. That time I removed it off my mind thinking that it’s just a mare liking towards the new place. But as my age grew, the connection got stronger.
Let me tell you something more about myself at the very beginning. I am a young adult whose life, breath and heart, everything resides in Mumbai. I am a proud and hardcore Mumbaikar who cannot tolerate even a separation of 4 days from my city of dreams.
Yet when I visit the fort of Panhala I forget everything. It’s just like some magic happening around me that I get dragged to that place. I ignore my love and loyalty towards Mumbai. I don’t even feel that typical pull which removes me out from where ever I am and takes me back to Mumbai. No, nothing. I feel nothing when I am on the fort. And trust me, it’s quite surprising.
I feel content and satisfied when I breathe the fresh air lingering around those old rocky watch-towers. I feel at peace when I sit on one of them and look down into the valley. I feel some spiritual powers coming up and grabbing me to carry me into the heaven while I behold the play of colours of sky and sun far away on the horizon. I forget the world in that game. Absorbed into my own solace I drown into a different zone, meditating for hours with my eyes wide open and heart pumping new blood full of life and colours.
This is the magic of Panhala, this is its aura which gives me the bliss of life and makes me feel at the definitive amity with life, such that I drown into its colours forgetting my own identity.
All this sounds good and soothing but when I put my analytical mind on its top gear to decipher the reason behind this, I get some real goose bumps. I am a guy with undying love for the city of Mumbai. I am born here and have lived here forever. My forefathers are from a different town which is vastly separated from the fort of Panhala by hundreds of hills, mountains and rivers. Yet why do I feel a special bond towards it rather than the place of my own origin?
Why do I share this exceptional bond with such a place which my previous generations have never even visited? Why do I feel love for it just the way I would feel for a person? Why do I care for it? And why do I feel like I am going home when I am making a visit there?
The lanes seem to call out to me, the hill seems to know me and the watchtowers; it feels as if I have walked them before as well. Not a decade back but many more years back. Even when I venture out on a new side of the fort, I get a feel that I know that place very well. My random walks of night into the woods of the hill don’t make me nervous and no matter where ever I am, if I am on the fort, I get no fear of losing my way.
This is the feeling when you are in a place which you own. This is the way your mind feels when you are in a place which is very close to you. This is the manner in which you behave when you are home.
But why is it? What connects me to that historical fort? The fort which was ruled by the great Maratha King, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj appeals to me as if I possessed the property even before I laid my love for Mumbai.
Thousands have died on that fort and many more have died making their frail attempts to capture its mighty walls. Only the lord of this world may have an answer to my questions but I know one thing for sure. No matter what, I do believe in past life and past deeds. My love for this fort and my unique relation with it is the proof of it.
So dear all, even if you feel any such weird yet strong relation towards any place, thing or human, do think over it and try to know what would be the reason behind it. It may be a signal or it may be a sign from the maker of everything. It may mean something in the future or may have significance in the current time. You never know what may happen tomorrow but always remember that everything around us and everything happening with us is for a reason.
This is the magic of Panhala fort. As I mentioned I have been visiting this place since a decade now. Yet I can’t get enough of it. It’s a very old fort with a huge historical background to it. And I swear to God I feel an exceptional bond towards this fort unlike I feel for any place ever.
I feel as if I am coming home. I feel as if this place belongs to me. I feel as if I am leaving something behind when I leave from this place and I feel as if I have some of my root stuck in here.
When I take a stroll I don’t feel I am alone. I seek peace in going around this fort all by myself. I seek completeness when I lay my sight over those broken watch towers of this old fort. I sense some connection towards those huge gates of the fort. Many brave soldiers have died on this fort trying to protect the brave Maratha King Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
So am I one of those soldiers? Or am I their leader Baji Prabhu Deshpande who bravely fought 100 of enemy soldiers just to ensure a safe passage of Shivaji Maharaj from here to other fort? Who am I? And why do I have such a strong connection with this place? Especially those watch towers. I sense some belongingness towards those powerful pillars of the watch towers.
When I climb up on them I feel that I have been here before. Not a decade back but many many years ago. My family has no origin from this place. I own no property here. I land up here once in two three years but that visit is always enough to make me feel that I have something with this fort. Maybe some sort of past life connection. May be some future indication. Only God knows what he has in his heart for me. But I do feel that I am connected to this place in some of the other way.
Because I am very confident when I roam around this place all alone. I don’t even fear at nights to go out on the streets of this fort even when there lays dead silence and dark all around me. I don’t feel a necessity to take directions from anyone as I have my gut telling me where to head and trust me I land up taking the right rout. All this is only possible when you know the place completely.
Though, I haven’t seen every corner of this fort till now I still feel a confidence that I know this place in and out. And there is only one case where in you know a place that good. This is only when that place is your home.