Tombs and a Sikh from Leicester – tuesday

Treat myself to another coffee bag and some fruit for breakfast and make an early start for the Bahmani tombs on the outskirts of town. For a change the tuktuk driver is not surly and seems keen to show me stuff on the way, like the remains of what was once a huge madrassa.

The tiles are polychrome, and most of them have been vandalised by ardent Hindus or suffered the passage of time. Out into the countryside and the tombs are soon in sight.

They are large heavy ponderous grey, I suppose these are suitable qualities. Yet again, in poor condition, some are open only because inside is littered with building materials or else the doors are bolted and barred. The largest is accessible by squeezing through the gap.

Another has a wonderful carved stone window that I can just get to between a gap forced between the doors.

The tombs are covered in green clothes, as you would expect, but then they are tied down with rocks and rubble at the corners. You have to wonder who if anybody cares about them.

500m away is a separate shrine/tomb for a wife which has a different atmosphere.

Rather than head back I ask to go to the gurdwara. It was built in 1948 as a shrine to an important Sikh guru who had visited the area at the beginning of Sikhism. It is a large flamboyant very clean site on the outskirts.

All rather like the Raymond Briggs style Sikh who is arriving at the same time. Name is Gordon, well so he says. His questions and offerings quickly establish a common link of Leicester. He’s lived there 12 years, having toiled previously in the brickwork in Bedford. He’s now 60 and happy to be able to grow his beard and wear the kris. He takes me under his wing and guides me through the protocols of Sikh shrines. Quite a lot of feet washing, no shoes, head covered–my Panama will suffice- and donations here and there. It’s all marble and tiles though the water can make it slippery on bare feet.

He asks me if I want to eat langer. My first thought is “monkey”! But then I recall there is an enormous pilgrims’ kitchen. You get a sort of dal and rice thali with chapatti and veg korma. Again this is not a western style korma but not totally chillied.

He then takes me in to meet the site manager who is an elderly charming guy who has been in post twenty years. I suspect it is not a particularly taxing job. Everyone is well-behaved and all is in order.

Gordon makes enquiries about rooms and we say goodbye. He is going off to see the rooms so I thank him profusely and head out. The visit would have been much less without him.

Need to pack for train to Hyderabad.

The train starts in Bidar which facilitates boarding and leaves bang on time. It is almost empty. Only fiddle is GPS is not registering but time and a big city should tell me when approaching Secunderabad. More passengers do get on- chap opposite wil not arrive till 4.30am. Sleeper means three layers of bunks and I have entire bottom to myself. It arrives 10 minutes early and a tuktuk has me at the hotel by 10.30pm.

Room is large and clean and I have an overwhelming sense of relief at leaving the grimness of Bijapur and Bidar.

Apart from the two French ladies, I haven’t spoken to a white man since saying goodbye the the tour party on 2nd March.

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    • Reply

    The shrine for the wife looks elegant, but the Sikh is beautiful, especially those flowers (inlaid?). Am enjoying catching up on all of this.

      • Reply

      Sorry, meant Sikh gurdwara.
      (Annoying that I can’t edit comments, or at least delete and repaste!)

      • Reply

      Yes the quality of the inlaid stone was very high. But not as dramatic as the Florence pietra dura

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