It was 12.30 in the night. After a delay of two hours I landed at Bengaluru Airport. What a relief from Ahmedabad, where the temperature was hovering around 44-45 degree Celsius. In contrast, in Bengaluru it was raining. All my exhaustion disappeared in a swift. As instructed I boarded a Hebbal bound bus, where Ameen to whom I met first time was waiting to receive. By 2 in the night we retired for the bed. Next day morning it was planned for a trip to Sira, the southernmost province of the Mughal Empire, via Tumkur, Ameen’s hometown. We started around 8. The weather was perfect. For a moment I forgot that I am from Ahmedabad. We reached Tumkur around 10. We were warmly greeted by Ameen’s parents with delicious tatte idli and chutney for the breakfast.
It took one hour more to reach Sira on the splendid Bengaluru – Pune Highway. The weather was playing hide and seek. On our way it rained heavily for five minutes and then abruptly stopped.
At Sira, we first stopped at a tomb that belonged to Mallik Rehan, a Mughal Era governor. The monument is located at the entrance of the town. It has an attached mosque. The locals believe that Rehan was a pious man. The grave of Aurangzeb’s daughter is also located in the vicinity, but we could not spot it. We spent an hour at the tomb appreciating its architecture and artistic wealth. Ameen also talked to a few local youths about its history and importance.
The next halt was at Jami Mosque, the town’s largest mosque also built by Mallik Rehan. It is located in the centre of the town and known for a range of Mughal architectural features including the splendid arches. It is perhaps the southernmost Mughal building in India. The mosque has a bowli (water harvesting structure) in its premises. On the entrance doorjamb there are depictions of two kalash motifs. Kalash symbolizes abundance and is widely depicted in Hindu and Jain temples. In Gujarat, the motif is widely seen in Islamic buildings. At Sira it was a surprise.
At Jami Mosque, we met a few local young men, who were very keen to show us other monuments in the town and its vicinity. One of these was a tomb, popularly known as Sone Kalash ka Makaan. We drove through the dusty village roads to reach there. The tomb was of Faridulla Shah Huseini, a Sufi saint who hailed from Bijapur and had come to Sira in the Mughal Era. We further drove and came across two compact structures, a tomb and a mosque of Adil Shahi Era on the roadside.
It was 2.30 and we were hungry. We headed to the town again for lunch. After scouting for a decent place we finally stepped into a restaurant in the old part of the town. The food was delicious. From here we explored around a few other ruins and living shrines, before finally heading to the last stop, the Sira Fort.
Sira Fort is a large sqaurish fort located on the plain beside a large talab. It has layers of history spanning a millennium. Ameen showed us how the recent unscientific restoration work is destroying its original character. We walked around its wall to get a 360 degree view of it. After spending an hour we decided to drive back to Bengaluru.
The day at Sira is a memorable one as the history and present coexist here. I am really thankful to Ameen for taking me around this compact heritage town near Bengaluru, the technological capital of India.