“It was almost evening and we wanted to leave immediately. It was suddenly dark. We were walking down a narrow staircase and we felt something, like a movement and then one of my friends started screaming and acting weird and saying all kinds of things. We tried shaking him but he just ran out of the palace towards the Shiv Mandir and collapsed. He had no idea what had happened to him,” said Pushpendra, my travel companion as we drove from Jaipur to Alwar in Rajasthan. We were heading to one of the sinister ghost towns in India. Pushpendra was narrating his experience at Bhangarh Fort Rajasthan, believed to be the most haunted place in India. Rajasthan has several spooky stories, but nothing comes close to the story of Bhangarh Fort, one of the top ten haunted places in India. It was late afternoon and the sun was rather harsh. The distance between Jaipur to Bhangarh Fort is about 80 kms and the journey takes about a couple of hours by road and we were almost there.
Pushpendra continued his story of Bhangarh Fort. “There is something out there but I cannot explain it to you. On another trip, my ex-colleague had a similar experience. She started crying and again fell by the temple. We tried to help her but she was dazed. Locals told us that the Shiva temple is the only place where we can feel safe from the spirits. ” he added as we entered the portals of the Bhangarh Fort Rajasthan.
Located in Rajasthan, Bhangarh is a small hamlet in Alwar and was once a kingdom, ruled by the Kachwaha Rajputs. Today it is one of the ghost towns of India and believed to be one of the top ten haunted places in India. The Bhangarh fort Rajasthan was built by the ruler of Amber, Raja Bhagwant Singh, for his younger son Madho Singh in 1573 AD. However it has been abandoned for years, some say since the famine in the 18th century. Ruins of the 16h-century palace and fort along with temples, step-wells, and monuments are strewn around here.
The village is mired in legends of sorcerers and black magic, Locals believe that the village which was apparently destroyed overnight comes alive after sunset, but with spirits. Ghosts apparently haunt the ruins and their favourite is the old palace. Apparently once a year they even have a ghost fest of sorts where they all congregate here for a “conference” of sorts. No wonder locals call it one of the haunted ghost towns of India.
Pushpendra and I however went to Bhangarh in broad daylight and yet the atmosphere was eerie. There was no sign of any civilisation as we passed the village of Gola Ka Bass. We hardly any homes or shops. We were the only vehicle on the road. Surrounding us were the Aravalli Hills as Bhangarh Fort stands on rocky terrain, along the border of the Sariska Reserve. Lush greenery blinded my eyes as the slopes of the hills were carpeted by forests. Yet the landscape had an uncanny feel to it.
A small temple stood at the entrance where a watchman was sitting quietly. A few locals were performing a temple ritual. The fort complex was just a few metres away. The watchman warned me not to wait until sunset as everyone, including him, would leave the premises. Even cowherds are not allowed to graze their cattle in the neighbourhood, he added. Even the Indian government has banned entry after dusk while some of the organisations who investigate the paranormal have concurred that it is haunted as well. A board from the ASI mentions strictly that entry is banned between sunset and sunrise.
Crumbling ruins of the erstwhile village greeted us as we entered the palace complex. There was a sense of desolation around. Palaces, temples, mansions, fortresses lay in crumbles. We were the only tourists around. A few locals from the neighbouring village walked around near the temples. A group of boys wandered around the rubble of old havelis or mansions.
This was once the erstwhile village of Bhangarh and we walked past the Jauhri Bazaar. Some of the homes here apparently belonged to dancing girls and was called Nachni Ki Haveli. A couple of locals walked towards us and the lady dressed in bright yellow stood out in the ruins. They had visited the temples but did not go to the palace. The atmosphere was uncanny, according to her . “Not right” she said in Hindi and left us. An old man emerged from behind a massive banyan tree and asked me if I wanted a guide. However he did not wait for my reply but narrated the story of Bhangarh Fort.
Story of Bhangarh Fort
Legends say that a sorcerer lived here and was smitten by Rani Ratnavati, who was one of the most beautiful princess . She was the daughter of Maharaja Chatr Singh and the sister of Ajab Singh. The black magician apparently cast a spell on her. He watched her maid buy perfume at the market and added a love potion to it. But the princess got wind of his plans and threw the bottle from her palace. It morphed into a boulder that flew all the way and killed the magician.
However he cursed the princess and declared that the town will be abandoned forever. A battle soon followed between Bhangarh and the neighbouring Ajabgarh, resulting in the death of the princess. According to the locals, the spirits ensure that no humans will be born here and no one survives, if they live here. Even houses collapse if anyone tries to build one in the vicinity. That probably explains why the closest village is over five kilometres away.
There is another legend that speaks of a tantrik who lived on top of the hill. As the fort was being built, he ordered that it should be at a lower level than his hut. The king Bhagwant Singh obliged and built it on the slope but his grandson Ajab Singh added columns that rose to the height of the hill, casting shadows on the tantrik’s house. He cursed the town , dooming it to ruins and the rest, of course, is history.
Historically however, it was a famine that sounded the death knell for Bhangarh. As constant battles raged on this land, locals abandoned the town. Bhangarh slowly slipped into oblivion and it became literally one of the ghost towns of India. A small cenotaph atop a hill is believed to have been the haunt of the tantrik or the sorcerer who had apparently cursed the village.
Spooked with all the stories, I made my way towards the fort, paying my respects to the temples, which were indeed “safe places.” Troops of monkeys walked around, ignoring all the eerieness.
Besides the main gate to the fort complex, there are others called the Delhi Gate, the Ajmeri Gate, the Lahori Gate and the Phulbari Gate. The temples stand out amidst the ruins. I could see the Someswar temple standing tall. There are also temples dedicated to Hanuman, Ganesh, ManglaDevi, Gopinath and Keshav besides others and they are considered safe from spirits.
The three-storeyed fort was a spectacle. While I could see the famed columns , the rest of the fort was in crumbles. We made our way to the grand palace located at the end of the fort complex. Surrounding it were the hills and forests. The ghosts had indeed chosen a picturesque spot. No wonder it is one of the ghost towns in India.
The sky seemed to suddenly overcast and the dark clouds converged around us. The locals took it s a cue to leave although it was still late afternoon. As we headed back, I wondered if ghosts do exist. Rajasthan has its shares of ghost towns and abandoned villages like Kuldhara
, near Jaisalmer but Bhangarh Fort Rajasthan seemed to live up to its name of being the most haunted place in India.
Bhangarh Fort is located in Rajgarh, Alwar in Rajasthan and it is about 80 kms from Jaipur and 280 kms from Delhi. The closest railway station is at Dausa which is 28 kms. You can either hire a vehicle from Dausa or Jaipur to Bhangarh Fort. Sariska National Park is about 28 kms here while Ajabgarh is about 15kms. The closest village is Gola Ka Bass and buses stop there. You cannot stay anywhere close to Bhangarh and you are not allowed to stay in Bhangarh Fort or its vicinity after sunset. There is nothing available to eat here as well and so pack some food.