March 29, 2020
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Forbidden Country

Forbidden Country
outlookindia.com
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Balochistan being a forbidden zone, we were going to have a darshan of an "almost forgotten" deity—as The Telegraph proprietor Aveek Sarkar, who joined the pilgrimage as a Shakta devotee, described it. Fire, thunder- and sandstone-sculpted mountains mark the inhospitable terrain to Hinglaj, the devi whose self-immolation drove an angry Shiva to travel from the Himalayas to this region. A sea of sand nuzzles the blue, deep shores of the Arabian Sea here, magic happens on the horizon at sunset. It was here that Jaswant Singh—pleasantly surprised at Pakistan's permission to visit this rebellious hotbed—underwrote a new peace path as he led the first Indian group to cross Munabao by road post-1947. Off Munabao, a welcome awaited us at Khokrapar, led by Rana Hammir Singh, descendant of the Umarkot ruling dynasty and naib nazim of the area, were in attendance. Sporting a traditional turban and moustache with Rajput-like pride, his overpowering personality would make a Schwarzenegger look low. We pass through Umarkot—then Mirpurkhas and birthplace of Akbar, famous for its mango orchards—and Indus in Sindh Hyderabad before finally seeing the lights of Karachi. There were many unforgettable moments while we drove almost non-stop, escorted by members of the anti-terrorist squad. People were waiting en route for hours, waving and yelling at us with sheer joy on both sides of the road. We tried hard to hide moist eyes.
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