There was something specialabout how altitude clears your head while seated on a mountainside on oneautumn evening. It was built as a dedication to Lord Shiva, the destroyer. Thegreat Kailashnath Temple.
The season cast an orangehaze above the horizon, lighting up the structure as if lit by fire, yet thehaze around it was so crisp and clear. It wascarved in perfect proportion and alignment to its adjacent structures, whichincluded columns, flying bridges, stone arches, and statues and buildings. Allmade out of a single piece of rock.
Therounded rocks, coated with frost glistened as the sun settled back into itsnest. I enteredthrough the granite walls into what was supposed to be the celestial room, aroom meant to evoke a sense of harmony with the mountains. Five dark figures appearedout of the shadows, chanting a strange verse in Urdu. I tried to run back outthe entrance, but one swiftly fastened my ankle to a pulley system and hoistedme up into a closing trapdoor as my field of vision slowly narrowed and myeyelids sealed shut simultaneously.
A burninggleam of light pierced into the fissures of my eyelids as I sat up against aslab of rock. A reverberating squawk fractured my sleep again; Iglanced up at a parakeet as it fluttered away through the shrubs. I understoodI was no longer on the mountainside.
The soil was damp and cool making me slipas I stood up to catch my bearings. A heavy blanket of mist surrounded andtrapped me amongst the thick curtains of leaves.As I contemplated the lifeless vines drooping fromthe unknown canopy, a hissing dart struck the ground, unearthing it and leavinga blood-red trail across its surface. This was followed by a rumbling horncausing the tree trunks to shake and a few unripe kharbujas to fall to theforest floor. I hastefully slid my feetonto the nearby trail which was laid diagonallywith tapered logs and made a run for it. I rounded a sharp corner, the dry andbitter air shocking my throat and lungs as I inhaled more rapidly. Blood rushedinto my muscles and in my brain as I dodged the avalanches of earth kick up bymy equestrian pursuers. There were five of them.
I glanced behind me for afleeting moment and saw an archer with a silk tunic enveloped in a thickleather vest, nocking the serrated arrow and then drawing the bow in my direction. I panicked and lunged into the immense profusion ofleaves. I was dazed at the fact that I had just jumped off a cliff and now wasflailing in midair trying to find a way to break my fall. Before I could even blink, I was scooped up in alayered membrane of titian-red sheets draped over a frail tent, I was in amarketplace. I rapidly tugged away a silver gown with orange lining and slitheredinto it before the owner came out of his neighboring tent. Now camouflagedamongst the rampant crowd I began to figure out where I am.
I edged through thedense flow of people; the odoriferoussmell of spices combined with the aroma of some type of incense. The dustfilled aisles in this shop-like market was in disarray and full of vibrantstands selling everything from cooked vegetables to goat cheese to packages of herbsand meat. This wasn’t modern India,no, with the ancient looking statuettes encompassing one of the stands; Iquickly understood that this was sometime around 5000 B.C.E! This was perplexed.
How? Why? Questions bombarded mythoughts incessantly. The once rich and lively market now was a sunburnedbattleground as the explosive hubbub encircled my consciousness. Then suddenlyeverything clicked together, it was the temple, the Urdu chanting monks and theillustrious trapdoor. I deemed it eminent to relocate the temple or else myfate with this earliest civilization would probably end with my death. I brokeinto a sprint headed towards a mountainside which looked much too familiar.Dodging the rice-filled chariots and leaping overthe animals roaming on the reddish-ground.
When I was out in the open again Iheard the memorable horn and its low rumble, they were coming for me. Five horseback archers, six bloodhounds and threefootmen galloped, scampered and cantered in my direction as I frantically racedup the unstable mound. Rocks, pebbles and sometimes whole chunks of earth shreddedaway as I clutched them with my hands in an attempt to clamber up the precipice.Before me stood the upright stonewalled Kailashnath Temple. My heart pounded like the war drums of the ancientdynasties which I now just witnessed. I felt my body stab through the entrance.The temple was deserted.
A diffuse bluish light was beaming through thepillared alley, which made an eerie contrast with the white halo beaming fromthe brass sculpture on the central altar. The fragrance of incense was heavyand the sound of chimes could be heard in the distance. I stood motionless, paralyzed.The back of my leg was punctured by a five centimeter diameter dart. Everything went numb, centuries seemed to pass by, and my brain feltlike it was going to enter a permanent state of unconsciousness. Everythingfelt as if nothing mattered anymore and before I knew it a beam of light wasdrilling into my vision once again. This time I was seated in front of thetemple with the familiar sunset in the horizon. I exasperatingly stared at myphone and we were back.
January 30th of 2018 in present day India.