It is important to preserve our cultural heritage for it keeps us united and our integrity as people of a nation. The historic environment is a proven source of how a nation has been built. It is a cultural manifestation of wealth and knowledge which gets handed over from generation to generation. A rich heritage speaks for itself. Lakes, forts, palaces, monuments, places of worships, old structures, old bridges, railway stations, ports, forests and other scenic historic locations have always been the favoured destinations of travellers.

I credit film makers for making historic locations famous through their craft. Over the years viewers of cinemas have started demanding location shooting because they give a realistic outlook to a scene. Secondly, location shooting has several advantages over filming on a studio set. The expense can often be far lower than that of constructing sets in a studio. The songs and scenes in movie look more pragmatic and rousing. The real-world wear and tear, as well as architectural details, and the vastness of a background add the intensity. As cinema and television have grown, various such locations are featured in innumerable films, television serials, music videos, ads and documentaries. Filmmakers have pushed the limits of their creativity and utilised the unique palace such as architecture, courtyards and skyline to captivate their viewers, film after film, year after year.

Some of the historic Indian destinations have always been popular with our Hindi cinema makers. Some songs have become popular for their perfect backdrop and scenes. Sometimes because the camera focuses on a spotlight on a lesser known facts of some tourist destination they have become famous. Many Bollywood songs have made the tourist destinations overnight famous after release of the movie. Some of them were totally unheard of, others were already famous in their own right but after being included in iconic Bollywood songs, their fame has increased tremendously.

Here are some such songs:

Dil ka bhawanr kare pukar: Film: Tere Ghar ke Saamne, 1962: Location: Kutub Minar:

The song is picturised on Dev Anand trying to woo his love – Nutan in the song. They both climb up and down the Minar. Mohammed Rafi’s magical voice has made the song evergreen. Nutan’s flashing smile and batting her eyelashes to tease Dev Anand’s romantic appeal is mesmerising.  The song is choreographed so simply, there are no frills added to it. One great old cameraman told me that, because the cameras in that era were too big, they couldn’t be fit inside the tower’s narrow passage, and hence the song was shot inside a replica of the tower instead. But the song does show another young couple walking outside the minar. The simplicity of the choreography of the song is very appealing. Both Dev Anand and Nutan had to walk up and down the Minar, surrounded only by stone walls and a staircase.

Aaj phir jine ki tamannah hai: Film: Guide, 1965: Location: Chittaurgarh Fort.  Chittorgarh is one of the largest forts in India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage sites. The fort was the capital of Mewar. It sprawls over a hill 180 m (590.6 ft) in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort ground has several historical palaces, gates, temples and two prominent commemorative towers.

The song is picturised on Wahida Rehman and Dev Anand. The song and the location depict Wahida’s (the female protagonist in the movie) newly found independence from a ruthless archaeologist’s clutches. The song, written by Shailendra, is the lightest and the most heart-warming in the entire movie, music is rendered by S.D.Burman. Lata Mangeshkar has sung the song with liveliness and energy. In one of the scenes you will see the reflection of the heroine on one of the mirrors, during the song, is inspired from the legendary tale of Alauddin Khilji catching a glimpse of Queen Padmini on the same mirror in the main hall. Waheeda dances over steep walls, frequently running the risk of falling down. In one of the shots, she is almost about to miss a step, when she finds Dev Anand down below, signalling her to hold it together.

Oh mere raja: Film: Johny Mera Naam, 1970: Location: Nalanda ruins. Dev Anand seemed to be charmed by historical monuments and therefore he chose them for a lot of songs shooting. Here’s another, filmed among the excavated remains of the ancient university of Nalanda in present-day Rajgir, Bihar. Nalanda, established between the 5th and 6th century AD, was a major centre of Buddhist learning till the late 12th century, when Bakhtiyar Khalji and his troops destroyed it. According to legend, the library of Nalanda was so huge that it smouldered for six months after being torched by Khalji’s soldiers.

Dev Anand and Hema Malini sing this song as romantic pair for they try to deceive the cops, they play hide and seek in the ruins of Nalanda in Rajgir, Bihar. I had visited this heritage site last year; our guide began the tour by first telling us about the song being shot here. The song is sung by Asha Bhosale and Kishore Kumar. And, the music directors are Kalyanji-Anandji.

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa, Film: Aandhi 1975, Location: Avantipur Ruins, Kasmir. This haunting melody from the movie Aandhi is shot in the backdrop of Avantipur Ruins. The song shows the hero and heroine of the movie meeting after a long gap of separation. Suchitra Sen and Sanjiv Kumar were two tremendous actors. The song is about yearning, wanting to surrender in love and about circumstantial separation. This controversial political drama had beautiful songs. This particular song just stands out in the backdrop of the ruins. It takes us through a virtual tour through the ruins of Avantipur temples. They were built by King Avantivarman, located in Kashmir somewhere between Srinagar & Anantnag. The black and gray coloured stones of the ruins add to the feel of the song. The song is written by Gulzar, sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and the composer is great R.D.Burman.

It seems the temples were discovered when British excavations were at their zenith in the eighteenth century. Not surprisingly, many of the idols were taken to museums in England.

Naam gum jayega: Film: Kinara 1977, Location: Mandu which is an ancient fort city in Madhya Pradesh. It is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh. In the 11th century, Mandu was the sub division of the Tarangagadh or Taranga kingdom. During monsoon, Mandu is most romantic. The beauty of the pastel orange shades of the monuments of the Mughal era set off against the brilliant green scenery is doubled as it gets reflected on the water bodies present in the fort. Mandu is artistically appealing. You should visit it for the stories of incomparable love of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.

The beautiful lines of the song personify the eternal glory of this beautiful land. Kinara had a sensitive script. This song is shot on Hema Malini and Jeetendra. The duet ‘Naam Gum Jayega’ is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder, lyricist is Gulzar and the song is composed by R.D.Burman.

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