India, with its rich and long history, is full of mysteries. Perhaps none is as puzzling as what happened hundreds of years ago at a royal city in Rajasthan, now under excavation. At the edge of the Sariska forest in Rajasthan lies the town of Bhangarh whose haunted status is attracting scores of tourists. Bhangarh is a place between Jaipur and Alwar in Rajasthan state of India. Bhangarh is known for it's ruins,and it's interesting to note that entry to this "Ghost town" is legally prohibited between sunset and sunrise. Bhangarh Fort is known as the most haunted place in India, and perhaps the greatest unsolved mystery. There is no doubting the fact that anything associated with the supernatural attracts a huge amount of attention and the deserted city of Bhangarh cashes in on that very idea. The many haunted stories of Bhangarh Forthave transformed it into a bucket list destination of sorts.
It is said that the city of Bhangarh was cursed by the Guru Balu Nath, causing the towns evacuation. Balu Nath sanctioned the establishment of the town but said: "The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!" Ignorant of such foreboding, one ambitious descendant raised the palace to such a height that its shadowed Balu Nath's forbidden retreat and thus the town was devastated as prophesied. The small samadhi where Balu Nath is said to lie buried is still there.
The other myth is as follows: The story goes that this sixteenth century town, 80 km from Alwar in eastern Rajasthan, was home to a tantrik (a magician well-versed in the occult) named Singhia. The tantrik fell desperately in love with the kingdom's beautiful princess, Rani Ratnawati. Knowing that he would never be allowed to go near her, Singhia decided to use his dark powers to seduce her. He spotted the princess's maid buying oil and cast a spell on the oil. If the spell worked, on touching the oil, the princes would surrender herself to him.
Locals say that the princess, who was proficient in the occult herself, soon sensed his evil plan and foiled it. She threw the flagon of oil away, whereupon it fell on a stone. As soon as the oil touched the stone, it started rolling towards the tantrik and crushed him. But before dying, Singhia cursed the palace with the death of all who dwelt in it, without the possibility of rebirth.
That might be more legend than fact, but Bhangarh is still a charming ruin to visit. Even today, a walk to the palace through the remains of what once used to be a bustling town is a fragrant affair with the aroma of kevda wafting in from a nearby grove. Bhangarh was also a well-laid out town and could serve as an excellent model for present-day town planners.
Each shop along the route still has a vacant space for an idol. But what is strange is that there are no roofs on the houses, shops and even the palace. Locals say that whenever a house is built in the vicinity, its roof collapses! And in the village closest to Bhangarh, people have made roofs over their heads — but only those made of straw!
The local people say that the whole place was vacated overnight due to a curse. They also say that as per the curse the city will vanish and if at all it is exposed, there will be no memories of the place except for the temples.
Large banyan trees and several temples dot the landscape. The beautifully carved temples of Gopinath, Shiva (Someshwar), Mangla Devi and Keshava Rai have survived the passage of time and are a must-see for visitors. There is also the dancer's haveli, the ruins of homes and scattered boulders with carvings. On a nearby hilltop stands a chhatri that is believed to have been inhabited by the tantrik. Most of the temples belong to Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman is said to save people from Ghosts and evil Spirits.
Whatever the truth, a visit to Bhangarh isn't for the faint-hearted.
How to reach there.
BY ROAD | Bhangarh is a 47-km drive from the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar, Rajasthan. From Delhi, visitors need to first get to Alwar, which is about 150 km away, and then drive 34 km to Sariska. There are no luxury buses on the route, so the best option is a taxi
BY RAIL | Shatabdi runs from Delhi to Alwar every morning. From there, visitors can take a taxi upto Sariska
THE RTDC PACKAGE | Delhi-Sariska-Bhangarh-Siliserh-Alwar-Delhi 3 Nights/4 Days: Rs 19,000 Own transport: Rs 12,000