India abounds in places of historical interest and it is my passion to look into the past, to uncover places that have made history. And though it may not be possible to travel to those times, folklore comes in handy in my quest.
My passion led me to Mandawa, an old town in the Churu district of Rajasthan. This place boasts of having given India the great industrialist family, the Goenkas. Every street showcases century-old havelis proudly displaying frescoes, which are preserved as if they had been made only yesterday.
At the majestic and beautiful Sneh Ram Lada Haveli, I wandered into the antique shop in the basement. And here I saw an unusual lock, the most complicated one I have ever seen.
I held it in my hand for a while. Though it was made of iron, it was rust-free and solid, weighing at least a kilogram. I wondered how it could be opened. Confused, looking for holes where I could insert its three keys, I gave up. I couldn’t find a single one. The owner of the shop said, “I will open it for you. Just observe.”
First, he put the back-holder of one of the keys around the rocket-shaped pointer at the base of the lock and twisted it. The pointer was dislodged. That was our first keyhole. Inserting the first key, he turned it clockwise. Doing so raised the lock’s face a bit, revealing the second keyhole. He inserted a second key and turned it. A third keyhole was revealed as the lock’s face rose slightly as it did before. The shopkeeper then inserted the third key into the now-visible keyhole and opened the lock.
So lost was I watching this fascinating spectacle that I forgot to make a video of it!