Purana Qila – Old Fort. With the mention of those words, an image of a very old fort might pop into mind, the tall stone lined walls, darkened with age, ivy growing in the cracks. One might imagine the huge gates of the traditional forts, the wrought iron gates depicting an aura of mysticism, and when closed, they enclose among them the many secrets the fort must have witnessed. The depths of the dungeons which must have imprisoned a number of people, or the huge courtyard having a fountain in the middle. Yes, that is exactly what I thought when I first heard of Purana Qila. But unfortunately, not only was I far from right about it, but I did not even get to catch a glimpse of a nook that looked like a Qila.
Eager to discover the Purana Qila, I stepped out of the car in the main Pindi Bazaar, far too busy scrutinizing the confined surroundings that I stepped right into a rain puddle. Aghast and annoyed, I managed my way through the broken pavements and overcrowded narrow streets of different bazaars to get to the Purana Qila. On the way there, I had learned that it was actually a market of clothing and jewelry. Still, I clung to the hope that I would get to see the Qila somehow.
Apartments that stepped straight in the middle of a market or the over-sized shops in small spaces that it was impossible to step in one without being in a narrow lane itself, I started seeing the name Purana Qila on many flash displays of shops that all had equally pretty dresses. Fairly long and equally unfair narrow streets, all lined with same kind of shops passed but no Qila arrived.
And while previously I had imagined to visit a traditional Qila, I found myself walking amidst the gong of crowd that seemed to be in a rush all for different purposes, but one thing I found common among them all was their need for fancy clothing and hence them being in such a place. Aside from the crowd, the abnormally narrow streets with their broken pavements also welcomed motorcycles that paved their way among the maze of people, and honked right when they were behind you, a distance of less than 20 inches, resulting in panicking you for a moment and then expecting you to jump off the road like you were a gymnast.
Fortunately or unfortunately after being honked at for a few times, I totally forgot about the dire need to find the Qila and only remembered it on my way back home, carrying with myself the image of a Qila that had rain washed narrow streets which only made them dirtier and the pretty clothes that winked at you every time you happened to make the right angle with them. And while its mystery remained intact, the secrets no less known to me than they were before, it was indeed a market and no Qila anymore.(I later learned online about the Purana Qila and happened to find an image as well. Unfortunately, I could not extract the exact date or era it was built in neither any other sort of important information, but as of now, it is used as apartments and known for the market that has emerged around it over the decades.)