It is mid-morning on a December day in 2013 at Daulatabad Fort. I have been climbing for about an hour or so in an attempt to reach the top of the hill Fort, pausing only to take photographs or sips of water to keep myself hydrated. It has been a never-ending climb; every time I think I have negotiated the final set of steps and reached the top, another set appears almost as if by magic ! It doesn’t help that the access way is built in such a way that only part of the route is visible !
When I spot a dome as I negotiate yet another set of steps (see photo on the left), I think I have reached the summit. I am so happy and relieved that I run up the “last” few steps.
But no ! Another set of stairs looms ahead ! I am so breathless and winded by then that I can’t even cuss in frustration.
I decide to take a longer break before resuming with the climb and move to the shade of some trees. I notice a middle-aged woman sweeping the area outside the domed structure.
Before I can ask her about the structure, I get distracted by the antics of a squirrel, and then by the requests of a group of school children who want their photographs taken, when they see my camera.
“Would you like some water? It is from a spring close by and very refreshing, ” a soft voice asks.
It is the woman who had been sweeping earlier and she is holding a bottle of water. Even though I have water, I don’t want to offend her by saying no. The water is as refreshing as the woman promised and surprisingly sweet as well.
“What is this?” I ask, pointing towards the domed structure.
“It’s a Ganesha Temple.”
“I saw you cleaning the temple and its premises. Are you the caretaker?”
“I guess you could call me that. But locally, I am known as this temple’s priest.” Continue reading “The woman priest at Daulatabad Fort”