Trapped between inviting lush green hills of the Turkish countryside and intimidating jet black, snow-capped mountains of the Caucasus lay a castle. The castle, according to local scriptures, had been built in late 8th century C.E. For years it resided peacefully at the top of a hilltop, not making a sound. No one knew why it was there or who built it. But indeed, it was something quite unique.
The castle signified a time of great prosperity. As the red hues of the fluorescent sunshine beamed upon the rusted iron gates, it revealed the splendour and majesty of the castle. As it shone more brightly, it revealed the ceramic pavements, the marble statues, the most beautifully engineered churches. All a reminder of the castle’s opulence and luxuries.
If one were to look at it from a neighbouring hill station, the castle size itself could be convincing enough of that of a city. Covering 4000 hectares of verdant land. The view there was breath taking. Cyan blue lakes fainting the thousands of trees lined up against one another, tainting the land with various shades of blue, red and whatnot. Along with these wonders of nature, the land hosted thousands of species of rodents, fish and birds too. All living in harmony around the mystical boundaries of the castle.
The castle though so inviting, was quite intimidating too. Its hundreds of foot high walls and large cannons and pots of hot sticky oil was enough to scare the most daring of enemies away. In historic times, the fiercest of knights stood guarding the castle aided with the most skilled of archers. The castle indeed had been a formidable force for its time.
The structure was a representative of an empire that had ruled the land for years; assumingly built for strategic importance. Yet unfortunately, one disastrous event lead to another and the empire was ruined.
What was once its mesmerising dormitories, full of life, now were eerily silent, like those seen in horror movies. The castle’s world-renowned libraries, bursting with the most eloquent pieces of literature and articulate novels, lay in heaps of filth and dust. The bedrooms where the young princes, consorts and princesses abided now robbed of its former spontaneity. It too had become a part of the depressing exterior the castle had adopted.
The castle’s grand bazaar, the gold-plated throne of the Sultan, the main banquet hall, the balcony from where the princesses waved to their suitors and the architectural wonders that it exhibited for everyone to see was now just as unheard of as the castle. All gone. Abandoned, so much so that UNESCO had forgotten to put it on its list. Shunned by the population that once inhabited its walls.
A castle that was once a symbol of greatness, power and luxury had now become a dystopian reality. A shadow of its former historic glory.
By Syed Fasih-ul-Hassan Taqvi