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Hamida of Yadgir

***Note: When I wrote this story all those years back in 2000 I promised myself I would visit Yadgir one day. Well the day is yet to come but often I am reminded of Hamida who told me an enchanting story of a quaint little town I glimpsed from the train. Yadgir has stayed with me over the years, silently calling and reminding, like it’s name suggests.***

Out of the mist suddenly emerges a fort atop a hill. The morning sunlight hits the hill and scatters around it an orange aura. The whole setting is so romantic and scenic, like just out of a storybook. This is the first sight I got of a town called Yadgir.

I had to leave for Pune suddenly due to unforeseen circumstances and so for the first time in my life traveled in the unreserved compartment. It was an experience of a lifetime, its so different here, the people are ready to share even the little place they have to sit, and in doing this there is no hesitation. As it is friendship happens so easily on a train but in here it is even more easier. Here I met a girl or should I say lady whose name was simply Hamida, she is a lecturer of philosophy in Bangalore. She was very sweet in talking (literally), and extremely helpful. She went calling after another lady who got down on the wrong station and had realized coz she had overheard her telling someone her destination. All this I had watched but I still had not actually spoken to her.

It was an hour and a half before she had to get down that we got talking when she offered me her window seat. Out of politeness I asked her where she was gonna get down and she replied ‘Yadgir’. Yadgir, what kind of name is that?, now that was my first thought, so I asked her how her town got its name. The history is really interesting.

About 300 years ago the king Adil Shah conquered Yadgir, which was then part of Gulbarga and was called Hassanabad. He built a fort on the hill, which dominates the city and a palace Firdaus Mahal for his queen Firdaus Jahan. One day Adil Shah’s teenage son fell of the hill while flying a kite and in those last moments as he clung on for his life he called out to his friends ‘Yesbir’ (which means hold my hand in urdu), but he could not be saved and his father named the place after his son’s dying words. Years later the Yadavas of Bijapur took over and as the hill looked like the hump of a bull and also that couldn’t pronounce the present name, they named it ‘Yetugiri’, these names later changed to Yadgir.

From the train the sight of the fort on the hill in the early morning mist reminds u of the place u dreamt your prince charming would come from. Through the town runs the Bhima River. In the fort is found the palace, a dome can be seen from far called the ‘Tope ghar’ which houses the canon. There are rooms where the artillery was stored and u can still find the smell of gunpowder there. There is also the ‘Ghadial khana’ (or clock house) which had a bell which would be rung at each hour to tell the time. There are 3 ponds, which are special. The ‘Baheno ka talab’ (or pond of 2 sisters) has a partition wall in the middle and it is said that how much ever water u take out there is always water over the partition wall, joining the 2 parts. The ‘Souten ka talab’s'(pond of 2 wives) specialty is that how much ever water u add the water never flows over the partition wall, the pond is forever divided and the ‘Peta nagri talab’s’ depth has never been measured, it has no bottom.

At about a 30 min. drive from here is the town Naikal. Here the fort’s walls look like stacked upside down pots. Folklore has it that a potter turned down his sister’s request for a pot and she cursed him that his pots would not sell, and so his stacked pots turned to stone and became the walls of the fort.

The scenic beauty and tranquility of this place is something to be absorbed. ‘Yadgir’ sounds like the word ‘Yadgiri’ which in Urdu means ‘something to remember with’ and this town has given me something to remember. As the train pull out of the station I bade Hamida goodbye with a promise to her and myself to come back someday.

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