Bhangarh: Behind Closed Doors

Bhangarh Alwar

“Staying after sunset is strictly prohibited in this area” –reads the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) sign board in this town. Even the office of ASI has been built at a safe distance from the main fort, instead of within it as is the case with other sites of archaeological importance.

Bhangarh - Haunted Place in IndiaOne of the world’s most haunted places, Bhangarh is a deserted town situated between Jaipur and Alwar in Rajasthan. It was established in 1613 by King Madho Singh, son of Man Singh of Amber, the great Mughal general. However, Bhangarh was abandoned soon after being built. Want to know why? Read on.

Ghosts of Bhangarh: Myth and Reality

Bhangarh AlwarBhangarh AlwarTourists who have visited the town of Bhangarh admitted getting a strange feeling in its atmosphere, almost a kind of anxiety and restlessness. Whatever happened here in the hills stretching for miles across Rajasthan hasn’t failed to both fascinate and frustrate historians and archaeologists. It is believed that Bhangarh was inhabited since prehistoric times, but was only built into a robust, royal city around the 16th century. The people over here had a commonplace life just like any other town: the cows grazed, tourists came to gaze at the ruins. It was a prosperous town of 10000 residents with grand palaces, well-kept gardens, revered temples and refreshing bathing pools. And then, inexplicably it was deserted suddenly. Perhaps only the local monkeys remained behind…

Bhangarh FortWhy and how did this happen is something that remains unanswered even today: some say that the occupants fled. Others mention the possibility of a plague or a famine. The local residents weave their own colourful narratives mostly around the story of a virtuous beautiful Bhangarh queen and a lecherous wizard who desired her. His attempt to seduce her with a magic potion failed. Therefore, some say that it was he who then cursed the city. Others attribute the town’s fall to the queen herself who was believed to be skilled in tantric magic. The people of the town have several stories to tell, but one aspect is common to all them: Bhangarh they say is a ghost town and is haunted by the spirits of the dead.

While some try to prove the ghost story right, others want to debunk it by visiting the fort after the dusk. All such attempts are forbidden. Nevertheless, the prohibitions have only made the ghost town more enticing for visitors from India and abroad, but only during the day time. Local villagers say that nobody returned who stayed there after the dark. They even affirm that if a house is built there, its roof would collapse.

Other Tourist attractions

The premises of Bhangarh are enclosed by a partially ruined wall. The ruins are a major tourist attraction, which include gardens, havelis, isolated chatris, banyan groves, temples of Lord Someshwar, Gopinath and Mangala Devi. The enigma lies in the random placement of all these sites within the premises which can be compelling and frightening at the same time.

Bhangarh FortBhangarh FortTemple inside Bhangarh ruinsDistance view of TempleBhangarh RuinsSurrounding Forts

Besides the main fort of Bhangarh, there were other forts that were built around it at the same time. All of them have a common history. Ajabgarh is located between Bhangarh and Pratapgarh, built by Ajab Singh Rajawat, grandson of Madho Singh. This fort is in good condition and gives a picturesque view of the town. The other remarkable fort is Pratapgarh, located on a hill top, known for its tranquil scenery and natural surroundings.

 Ajabgarh FortPratapgarh Fort (Photo: Diimaan)Historical Importance

During recent excavations, the ruins of tools and artefacts, supposed to have been used by man during pre-historic times, have been discovered which can be of interest to the archaeologist. The place had several natural springs and waterfalls. One such can still be found near Lord Someshwar’s temple.

For ghost hunters and dare devils, Bhangarh is the place to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush. For those who are clenching their teeth already, did you know the spirits keep a watch even during the daytime?

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