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Treasure of the mountain

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ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN

When her father said they would go to Gingee for the weekend, Savithri was very unhappy. "What would I do in that village for two whole days?" she wondered.

Savithri, was hot and grumpy. She was off to Gingee for the weekend. A trip she did not want to take!

Amazing sight

Suddenly there arose a high mountain. She saw a fort on top and zillions of black boulders everywhere.

“That is the Gingee fort,” said her father. “The British called it the Troy of the East.”

Soon they were in front of a large compound wall. There was a flurry of movement and the gates were flung open. Aunts, uncles, and wait a minute, four pairs of solemn eyes peering at her from behind a pillar.

An aunt noticing this called out to the four and introduced them Senthil, he is 14, Meena here is 12, Prabhu (the dark chubby boy) is seven and Karthika is six.”

By the time lunch was ready, they were friends.

“Finish fast and let's go, we have some exciting things to show you,” said Prabhu. Soon they were at the base of the mountain.

Meena said, “People say that we still can find the treasure here.” Just then Muthu, the goatherd joined them.

“The fort has a huge rampart 60 feet thick,” said Senthil, “and stands at 800 feet in height, guarded by a moat, 80 feet wide. It is about 800 years old.”

“Did you know that the fort was fortified by Ananda Kone, the chief of the local shepherd community. After the Kone's, the kurumbars took over,” Senthil continued his ‘history lesson'. “In the 16th century the Nayaka rulers took over. After which it was under the rule of Chatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler.”

“I know what happened after that,” shouted Prabhu, “Gingee was ruled by the Mughul emperor Aurangazeb and Sarup Singh was appointed chief of Gingee by the emperor, under the control of the Nawab of Arcot.”

“Right,” said Senthil “But the most exciting event happened after that Sarup Singh's son Raja De singh, revolted against the Nawab of Arcot, and refused to pay tax and fought against the rulers. He and his friend Mohammed Khan were killed in battle. They were buried inside the fort. Even his horse, Neelaveni, was given a hero's funeral and is buried inside the fort.”

Just then, they noticed Muthu and Karthika looking at something on a ledge high above. Muthu scrambled up.

It was a brass pot. “Don't open it” said Senthil, “I've heard that a harmful gas might come out. Let's take it to the Archaeological office. Appa's friend heads the office.”

The office had yet not closed and Subbu Uncle and his colleagues were thrilled at the find.

“You are a bunch of smart kids, you will be rewarded for this,” he promised.

By then Senthil and his cousins had a quiet consultation. Senthil spoke for all of them.

“Thank you uncle, but can you give the reward to Muthu? After all he found the treasure and he deserves it the most.”

Uncle Subbu smiled. He knew Muthu well.

“You know what? We are going to sponsor Muthu's education.”

Muthu smiled at this new found treasure.


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