The jeep dropped us off at the fort, and we came out in the scorching heat. I adjusted my tinted glasses and squinted in the bright light. We ascended the wide, lime-plastered stone stairway, glancing at clusters of langurs sheltering from the sun. The dry afternoon sun drilled holes into every wet pore of the fort walls and our bare skin. Over the centuries, several eyes may have peeked through windows of the fort walls, reassured by the lakes of the Ranthambhore forest as their source of refreshment (a refreshing source for the tigers and other animals too).
The limestone walls and cave-like tunnels were heavy with stories of valour and glory. Countless warriors may have fought to protect the fort from enemy incursions. We figured the dry October heat may have determined their strategies, as sunburn crept onto every inch of our exposed skin. We gasped for breath through our dry nostrils. Discovering a shaded space spelt a short rest break.
Those warriors of old gave way to Rajasthani women sitting in the heat with earthen pails filled with water. They were stationed at regular intervals along the stone passages. They were draped in colourful ‘ghagra’ and ‘kanchli’ both exuding bright colours and sewn with little geometric mirrors and beads. The long light-printed ‘odhni’ was the only fabric covering their head from the formidable sun.
Our parched throats and mounting thirsts drove us to these heat-defying ladies. As I stood in front of one such warrior, she set about to brandish the only weapon against the sun- water. I clutched the steel vessel that she handed me, as she poured the cool sparkling water from her earthen pitcher. The sun got in my eyes as I held the glass above my mouth. The cool droplets spilled over and ran down my face and throat. The drenched portion of my shirt cooled down the hot skin of my neck.
As soon as the aqua flowed into my body, my limbs were rejuvenated. I began pacing about the heritage place with a renewed energy (though the sunburn couldn’t be helped).
Our sun-baked tour of Ranthambhore Fort was enlivened by the water warriors.
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2 thoughts on “Parched in the Sun”
Too hot to handle ☺️
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Too hot and too burning to handle! 😅