Bhangarh Fort – Behold the most haunted place in India
What does the first thing that crosses your mind when it dawns on you that you will be visiting the most haunted place in India (and perhaps, Asia even) ? The Bhangarh Fort ! I was super thrilled, as it was on my wish-list for a while now, but not so much my sisters who were accompanying me on this trip – lest they are actually greeted by some haunted personalities. I am a wimp when it comes to watching horror movies but visiting haunted castles on a bright day, the operating word being day, is par for the course 🙂
For our 13 member family road trip, Bhangarh Fort was one of the non-negotiable highlight when I was planning India’s golden triangle. I was put through a lot of grueling, eye rolls, fear of spirits but moi was undeterred. So, you can relate to my disappointment when we did not stop here on the way to Jaipur as my sis was slightly under the weather.
Having made up my mind earlier, we agreed to visit Bhangarh as a day trip from Jaipur breaking off from the extended family. Thus, the usual 4 suspects found themselves at the gates of the fort.
Bhangarh Fort is situated on a hillside in the deserted town of Bhangarh in Rajasthan, between Jaipur and Alwar. It is located at the edge of Sariska Tiger Reserve. My first impression was of a place bereft of tourists that you rub shoulders with at the likes of the Taj and Amer fort. The second was the grandeur that was Bhangarh – now in ruins.
Legends of Bhangarh Fort
If you know me by now, you will understand how intrigued I am with legends associated with a place. A place like the haunted Bhangarh has its own share of these.
a) One such story revolves around an ascetic, Baba Balau Nath. King Madho Singh, brother of Man Singh (one of the Navratna from Akbar’s court), built this palace in 1613. Apparently he built the fort after seeking approval from one Baba Balau Nath, who used to meditate here. The sadhu agreed on one condition – the shadow of the palace should not touch his retreat else the city shall be no more. The king agreed and ensured that the palace is built ensuring no shadow fell on the ascetic’s retreat. One of the king’s ambitious descendants decided to raise the palace higher. Alas, that cast a shadow on Baba Balau Nath’s retreat and his prophecy became true. The whole town was destroyed. Locals say that even today, any house built in its vicinity ends up with a collapsed roof !
b) There is another legend that is more well-believed and the one I prefer. It is related to the princess of Bhangarh, Ratnavati. She was very beautiful and caught the eye of a local tantric (magician). To cast a love spell on her, he put a magic potion in the perfume (ittar) the princess was buying from the local market. The princess saw through the deception and threw the perfume on a rock, which crushed the magician. The dying tantric cursed the palace and all who lived in it, with no re-birth. The princess died in a battle soon after and the town abandoned post a famine. Locals believe that this “cursed” place has become home to spirits and ghosts from that time !
Approach to the Fort
As we enter the gates, the temple of Hanuman on the right was reassuring! It is believed one must visit this temple before leaving to ward off evil spirit.
We walked through the palatial grounds, crossing many ruined structures which would have been really impressive during their hey days.
We crossed Nachan Ki Haveli (dancer’s palace), which probably would have been a frequented place for entertainment.
These ruins were part of Jauhari Bazar (market place). The buzz around this area can only be imagined now.
Near the main entrance there were many monkeys, which put me on my guard though they seemed quite happy to just wander around without making any trouble.
There was also a kind couple that served water to people visiting the fort in the hot sun. You could tip them for the water but I wasn’t exactly sure of the source of water. I did see the lady disappear down a road to get water – probably from a tap close by ?
As we entered the main gates, Gopinath Temple on the right took my breath away.
Intricately carved, this temple appears to have been frequented by the royal family, owing to its proximity to the palace. The temple is built above a 14 ft raised plinth and yellow stones are used for the exquisite carvings.
The temple has lovely carvings on the pillars and ceiling.
The Royal Palace was located at the end of the fort’s limit. It was apparently a seven storeyed building, out of which only 4 are seen today. As we walked towards it, I could only imagine how beautiful this place would have been with the sound of fun and laughter of the royal family enjoying the warm sun of a winter day.
This huge group of travelers sitting under this banyan, were they too reminiscing about the same, surrounded by the relics of the olden days ?
The Bhangarh Fort
The climb to the fort – the most haunted place in India, was not much but was steep and slippery in small portions.
We reached the gate which took us further up to the living quarters.
Along the corridor, there are many rooms that can be seen from outside the fort. These have been enclosed with grills and some ghostly sightings have been reported here (eg of a small boy crying in one of the grilled rooms – shudder). This area is still well preserved.
The living quarters on the top storeys are in ruins. It is easy for me to imagine this haunted and quite eerie as night approaches – giving it the title of the most haunted place in India.
From here I got a bird’s eye view of this fantastic fort and all it encloses.
A view of Purohit Ji Ki Haveli (head priest’s house)
My own supernatural experience
Having visited the most haunted place in India, I suspect you want to ask “Do I believe in ghosts ?” Not really but I do believe in spirits. Though now, I must share an eerie experience during this visit. I clicked photographs on my mobile and DLSR while in Bhangarh. Needless to say, I did take some videos and family pictures on the phone. All of a sudden, my mobile camera stopped working and all the pictures clicked on my phone just disappeared. I spent 3 agonizing hours when the pictures finally did appear but the camera is still not functional. Go figure !
Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)
- You can visit Bhangarh as a day trip from Jaipur (about 2 – 2.5 hours drive). I would recommend you start early in order to cover the fort before the mid day sun
- You will take about 3 hours to see the fort, at a leisurely pace
- There is no entrance fee to the fort
- Equip yourself with good walking shoe, sun hat and sunscreen to avoid the harsh sun
- Carry enough water and keep yourself hydrated
- You can buy some water and snacks at the entrance from a couple of small shacks
- I did not find any public restroom in the vicinity of the fort, though the map did indicate a toilet
- Bhangarh fort can be combined with a visit to Abhaneri