The Curious Case of Bhangarh

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You must have heard stories of boons and curses, and munched popcorn over movies of ghosts and spirits, but have you ever considered being at the site of action? In this issue of the TIW Traveller, we invite you to visit one of the spookiest places in India…

In the state of Rajasthan, adjoining the Sariska forests, lies the historic town of Bhangarh, which definitely deserves a day trip…Mind you, just the day, for it is said, that those who dare to enter the town after dark never see the morning sun. A signboard displayed prominently by the ASI warns visitors: “Entering the borders of Bhangarh after sunset and before sunrise is strictly prohibited.” Even the ASI has kept its office away from the historic site, perhaps, to keep a safe distance from the spooky night visitors. Many have reported witnessing paranormal activities, including hearing music and tinkling of anklets! Tourists have also found weird colour spots in photographs they clicked inside the palace ruins.

The town of Bhangarh was established by Madho Singh, the brother of great Mughal General Man Singh of Amber, in 1613. According to the locals, the town used to come alive at night when bazaars were laid and people would come out of their houses dressed up to eat, drink and make merry. Then one night, the town with its 10,000 dwellings was evacuated all of a sudden, leaving behind ruins of roofless bazaars, houses and palace (according to the locals whenever a house is built in the vicinity, its roof collapses!).

Legend has it that Bhangarh was once home to a powerful magician, Singhia who fell in love with the King’s daughter, Princess Ratnawati. He tried to seduce her by casting a spell on the oil that her maid bought for her. If the spell worked, whatever the oil was applied on, would be drawn towards the magician. Princess Ratnawati, adept herself in the occult, sensed the ways of the magician. So she applied the oil on a rock which sped towards Singhia and crushed him. But before dying, Singhia cursed the palace with the death of all who dwelled in it. And so the town that once bustled with life, was deserted overnight.

According to K L Saini, who was the Director of the Sariska Tiger Reserve for 18 years, the entire belt used to be a thick forest. Even the Ramayana is said to talk of the Pandavas staying here while in exile.

Spooks apart, a visitor can sense the enchanting aroma of kevda from the nearby grove, as he/she walks through the palace. Large banyan trees and the beautifully carved temples of Gopinath, Shiva (Someshwar), Mangla Devi and Keshava Rai have survived the ruins of time and make for a good visit. There is also the dancer’s haveli, the ruins of homes and scattered boulders with carvings. You cannot miss the chhatri atop a nearby hill, which housed the legendary Singhia.

GETTING 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 kms away, and then drive 34 kms 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

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