BHANGARH: What if the stories aren’t just stories?
On a Saturday night in New Delhi, after getting back from office, I and my then roommate thought of watching a movie to give us the feel of weekend. Not having many options on our laptops and having a taste for horror movies we played a movie called “Trip to Bhangarh”. I must say the movie was nowhere close to be good but was definitely enough to increase our curiosity in the infamous city of Bhangarh and the folklore associated with it, especially when we had heard so much about it. Being a fan of trips planned in the spur of the moment I was on my feet putting a couple of clothes in a small bag in the middle of the night. My roommate obviously was lazy but couldn’t see me go alone on a trip which had all the possibilities to turn out to be super exciting. So we left for the closest bus station which could get us to Bhangarh.
For those who are not familiar with Bhangarh, it’s a small town in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Bhangarh Fort is located on the border of the Sariska Reserve in Aravali range, famous for being one of the most haunted places in the world.
So, we took a bus headed to Jaipur from Kashmere Gate bus station. We were told by the conductor that we had to get off at a small town called “Bahrod” from where we could find a bus to Alwar. It was a freakishly chilly night. We took our seats and the excitement of finally getting to Bhangarh took all the sleep away from my eyes. At around 4 in the morning the bus dropped us at Bahrod and it took another half an hour to find a bus to Alwar. The bus was jam packed with passengers but we managed to find us places to sit in corners. By the time we reached Alwar it was already 7 in the morning. We grabbed ourselves a quick breakfast and bought tickets for Bhangarh. This last phase of our journey was about to take 3 and a half hours.
The rickety bus took us amidst one of the most scenic views I had ever seen. The prepossessing forests of Sariska Tiger Reserve, mountains in the distance, camels on the sides of the road and long endless roads ahead made it hard for us to blink our eyes even for a second. We finally reached Bhangarh around twelve in the noon.
The first site of a board that said “BHANGARH, 3 kms” with an arrow pointing in the direction of the fort literally gave us goosebumps. This point is the closest to the fort where a public transport bus drops you, so we had to cover those last 3 kms on foot. Getting closer one can see the massive walls of the fort guarding the compound. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has put up a sign board stating “Entering the Bhangarh Fort before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited”, which added to the whole eerie feeling that we were experiencing getting closer to the fort. At the entrance one can find a lot of guides who are ready to take the tourists around the fort giving them facts and information about the history associated with it. Though we didn’t ask for the guide but one of them joined us anyway. The first thing that we noticed inside was the sheer number of langoors that were everywhere around. Getting intimidated by their size and sharp teeth I enquired with the guide if they bite or not, to which he replied that none of the langoor has ever bitten anyone inside the fort, which made me feel relieved. So, like other tourists we started clicking pictures of the intricately built temples, palace and the havelis, which is when one of the langoors came from behind of me and bit me hard around my knees. I was in pain, shouting at the top of my voice as my friend, the guide and other tourists looked at me in disbelief as everyone believed that langoors didn’t bite. By this time I was sure that I was the chosen one and I prepared myself for more of mishappenings that I believed was in store for me. I quickly checked the wound which was deep but I was in no condition ready to head back without exploring the fort. So I washed the wound and decided to get to a doctor once we got back to Alwar at night. The guide took us to the different parts inside the fort which was built by Maharaja Maan Singh I for his son Madho Singh in the 17th century. Now was the time for us to ask the much awaited question “Is this place haunted?” Initially the guide brushed aside the topic with a brief laugh but on further insisting and pestering he gave us all the details that we were looking for. He told us the folklore around the city of Bhangarh.
According to the folklore, a wicked tantrik used to admire the beautiful Maharani Ratnavati and wanted her to marry him. So he replaced her massage oil with a magic lotion which apparently would have made Maharani to fall in love with him. But Rani’s alertness figured it out and she poured the lotion on a boulder instead which rolled and crushed the Tantrik to death. Just before dying the Tantrik cursed the city of Bhangarh that the whole city will be wiped out by the next morning and people here in Bhangarh believe that is what happened.
Another strange thing that the guide told us was people from across the district come to the fort to pray the djinns which reside there. And strangely, cigarettes and liquor are given as offerings to these djinns. No girl is allowed to even come near the temple of worship as it is believed that if the djinn fall for a girl he won’t let the girl be in touch with the rest of the world. We happened to pass one such temple where the prayers were offered. The person who was getting the prayers done was sitting in a corner and there was just a priest inside the temple with him who was performing the rituals. Drived by our curiosity we stood outside the temple to see what was happening when the man in the corner aggressively started shooing us off. The guide asked us to get aside and allowed us to see the rituals from where the man couldn’t see us. It is hard to believe but we saw the priest make 4 lit cigarettes disappear from his hand right in front of us. I am still not sure if that was an illusion, a trick or is there really something that we are completely unaware of. We were asked not to discuss about the whole thing till the time we were inside the fort.It was getting late as we had to get back to Alwar and then for Delhi so we clicked a few pictures got ready for the journey back and waited eagerly to share our experiences with the people when we got home. By the next early morning we were back in our respective offices in Delhi. It just took a day for us to experience something so amazing and strange. We left with just a bag with a couple of clothes in it, but we came back with a bag full of strange experiences and beautiful stories to share.
-Anant Gyan Singh