The allure of Bhangarh is undeniable. Once you get acquainted with the name and google it, you will be greeted with titles such as ‘the most haunted place in India’ and ‘World’s only officially haunted place’. That, of course, is enough to catch everyone’s attention.
If offbeat is what you are looking for and you are anywhere near Delhi or Jaipur, Bhangarh is a highly recommended day trip. Take a private car and hit the road – it has more to offer than you would expect.
First on, Bhangarh is in the Alwar District of Rajasthan at a distance of less than 250 Kms from Delhi (and about 80 Kms from Jaipur). The road trip is a breeze in itself on the extremely well maintained highways of Rajasthan (except a painful stretch of around 10 Kms in between). For me, these roads hold a separate charm and are partially the reason why I keep finding a reason to go back to Rajasthan.
On the way from Delhi to Bhangarh, a few hardly known Garhs like Ratangarh and Pratapgarh can be seen from a distance, strewn over elevated pieces of land. You will have to drive through the gates of the sprawling outer wall of Ajabgarh that still stands on the road. Ruins on both side of the road, the Garh itself standing tall and an ancient temple (still accessible if you enthusiastic enough to climb over some rubble and follow a disappearing path) builds up your expectation for the ruins of Bhangarh, lying ahead.
Once you reach the Bhangarh Complex, it is not hard to imagine why it is rumoured to be haunted. Rows and rows of ruins of stone walls on each side of the path lead you to the main complex of the Bhangarh fort – these used to be the shops along the main road. Explore these outer ruins and you will come across the ruins of a few havelis on the fringes as well.
Dodge the menace of the monkeys to venture ahead and you will be greeted with a huge iron gate. Beyond this, awaits the dominating structures of the Bhangarh Fort, Gopinath Temple, Someshwar Temple and ruins of a mosque. The two temples are the only two structures which are not in ruins and still stand grand. The carvings on the walls of these temples, especially the Gopinath Temple, rival those of any of the better known temples in Rajasthan.
The fort, in all its ruined glory, gives off an eerie feeling. Walk in and explore the ruins – venture to all the levels of the fort. Some unwarranted sound from some corner of this fort will assuredly make give you goosebumps.
This is a place that you need to explore on your own and experience the uncertainty every nook and cranny seems to offer rather than read beforehand and prepare yourself about.
Go there. Explore the ruins. Expect the unexpected. Sit on the sprawling lawns and soak in the ambience. Walk over the ruined outer wall from the Lahori gate to the Ajmeri Gate. Spend an entire day, just away from the cities, lost in the possibilities of a city cursed long ago.