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The Most Haunted Town of India: Bhangarh

Posted by Neeraj Narayanan on Apr 2,2021



They say that the land has been cursed, and civilization has never been able to settle itself within the boundaries.  On the road, the locals tell you to not visit it, and it is difficult to gauge why their eyes are smiling, what they are hiding. The route is hilly, forested in patches and bumpy throughout - the car leaving a trail of dust in its wake. A mongoose scampers across the empty road just in time and the car narrowly misses it.

It all adds to the effect.  And the aura.

Welcome to Bhangarh, India’s most haunted town.

A mere 270 kilometres from New Delhi, this town lies in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. But unlike its cousins – Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur or Jaisalmer all renowned for their architecture and heritage – Bhangarh has been made famous for altogether different reasons.

The town in itself has been walled off from its surroundings. As you reach the gates, a worn-out board by the ASI warns that you aren’t allowed to enter the town after sunset or before sunrise. As of now, the sun is beating down with all ferocity, and a lone eagle stares at you from its perch on a ruined pillar in the fort. We try to find out why the ASI does not have an office here (all historical sites in India must be accompanied by an ASI office, as per government rules), and some say it is out of fear, others claim it to be a tourism gimmick, but nobody is sure.

ASI signboard at Bhangarh

Popular legend has it that Bhangarh was cursed by the tantric - Balu Nath who originally sanctioned the construction of the city. While the fort was being built, he warned that his sacred meditation place lay nearby and should the palace’s shadow ever fall on this place, the city would fall to ruin. Ignorant of this warning, Ajab Singh – one of dynasty’s descendants raised the palace to such a height that it cast a shadow on Balu Nath’s retreat and overnight the town was laid to waste.

According to another legend, Princess Ratnavati of Bhangarh was so beautiful she had no match in all of Rajasthan.   One day she was spotted by a tantrik named Singha Sevra, who was so bewitched by her beauty that he immediately fell in love.  To make her fall for him, he decided to use black magic. So one day, on spotting a palace servant buying perfumes for the princess in the market, he cast a spell on the perfume that would now make him irresistible to the princess. His plot however was quickly uncovered by one of the royal guards, who immediately informed Ratnavati of the plot. Taking the bottle, she smashed it against a large rock and it immediately came to life and rolled over the tantric standing behind. With his dying breaths he uttered a curse upon the entire land saying that if he were to die, so would the princess and all of Bhangarh and the town was destroyed.

Many a curious visitor has complained of being overwhelmed by a queasy, uneasy feeling as soon as they enter the town, but maybe it is the mind playing games.  The town in itself is in ruins – but you can see the shapes of the dwellings, the carvings on the temples and a recently restored medieval bazaar. As the town is built on a hill, we stand at one point gazing at the various arches and colonnades built on various levels on the hills, and they all speak a silent, wailing tale of a past soaked in splendor.

Walk through the temple, and you can almost visualize the Brahmin priest standing in his thin dhoti in the temple pond offering prayers to his God.  Walk through the medieval bazaar and in its deadened silence lie the loud cries of the hawkers trying to sell their wares.  There is also the ‘Palace of the Prostitutes’ that once housed the courtesans and the captured women of conquered kingdoms.

Often at night, the villagers from nearby hamlets complain of music emanating out of the deserted fort.  If only that was not followed by piercing screams.

Fort interiors

There are a number of entrepreneurial men who’ll hang around the gates in the morning, trying to sell you some snacks. But at the first hint of the sun going down, and they are all off scampering away as fast as they can, on their bicycles.

Not as if nobody did not try to enter at night.  At dusk, the guards manning the town lock the gates and then lock up themselves, in a small room in the fort, and do not come out till morning. A small Hanuman temple has been built right next to the room.  A number of stories abound in the internet, about youths who hid near the gates and then climbed over the walls of the town to figure out for themselves if the town is really infested with ghosts.  As the stories suggest, some went mad, some were attacked, while some saw just lone figures in the distance, harmless yet spooky.

It is difficult to say if there really is any paranormal activity prevalent in Bhangarh, if its just a fiction of human imagination under stress, or a smart marketing plan. But then why don’t you find out for yourself?



Neeraj Narayanan
At WeAreHolidays, Neeraj Narayanan is Head of the Content and Digital Media Team. He has a Masters in Advertising & Media Communication, has had experience as a Communication Consultant to the Government of Gujarat, and as a Brand man in the IT giant firm - Cognizant. On weekends, he conducts Heritage Walks in Delhi.
Neeraj Narayanan

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