A lot has been said and written about Bhangarh in Rajasthan. And when you think of Bhangarh what first comes to mind are its famous ruins and the popular folklores that add to its mystique. Haunted or not, what it also offers is architectural beauty that few pay attention to. Here, we revisit the place that has now come to be known as one of the most haunted places in India.
Located near Alwar in Rajasthan, Bhangarh Fort is an easy day trip from Sariska. It’s best to drive from Delhi and spend the night on the fringes of the Sariska National Park, and leave for Bhangarh the following morning.
Legend has it
The most popular legend is that of the beautiful princess Ratnavati of Bhangarh. It is said that a sorcerer fell in love with her, and made a magic potion in order to make her fall in love with him. He tried to sell this potion off as a beauty enhancing oil to her maid. The princess, however, saw through the whole act and poured it on the ground. This oil is said to have then turned into a boulder that crushed the sorcerer, who cursed her saying that the she would die without an heir to leave behind, and the place would soon be razed to the grounds.
Historically speaking, a great famine in the 1800s is believed to have caused the end of the all life there.
Yet another legend claims that king Madho Singh decided to make the fort his capital in the 17th century after getting the approval from Guru Balu Nath who meditated at the highest point there. He got permission on the one condition that the shadow of the palace should never fall on his meditation spot; else the city would be ruined. However, the king’s ambitious descendants paid no heed to this and built it to such heights that the palace cast a shadow on the meditation spot. And this led to Bhangarh’s undoing. One can still see this spot high up beyond a rocky trail.
The minute you enter the premises, the grandeur of the place will floor you. The entire place is a song in stone; from the pathways down which inhabitants once walked to the broken arches under which flourished a bustling bazaar, to the ruins of the dancing girls’ quarters, and the imposing fort that still stands in all its crumbling splendor. Walk through the massive entrance to the main fort, and climb up for a rewarding view.
Wandering through these historic ruins is said to have sent many a pulse racing because of the stories that are told, but the architecture merits equal attention. Bhangarh is a grand monument, indeed. One can’t help but feel sad that its praiseworthy architecture now lies buried in its legends.
What to expect
Other than the odd visitor, don’t be surprised if you see a large number of locals (and langurs!) walking around the premises. While Bhangarh is a haunted and ruined settlement, it still holds a place of reverence in the hearts of the villagers who see it as the bastion of their forefathers and kings. There are several temples here, many of which are visited by the devout on various days of the week. Devotees also flock an awning inside the fort where the resident djinn is believed to appear on Tuesdays. A little trap door under it leads to a dungeon down below into which it supposedly disappears.
Break any rules, including the tacit ones. An ASI board stands in welcome, warning visitors against entering the fort after sunset. There’s even a hefty fine for it, which means they are serious about deterring people from straying in. This might come across as a little intimidating, but not only the ASI, the locals too dislike visitors from going inside once it’s dark. Do so, and you will be punished aptly, they say. Keep the thirst for adventure reserved for spotting tigers in Sariska.
Where to stay
Getting accommodation around Bhangarh is tricky, so it’s best to book beforehand. Alwar has a place for all budgets, but if you want to combine a safari at Sariska with your trip, Vanaashraya in the Tehla village is a great choice. The place has luxurious tents and organizes safaris and trips to surrounding areas including Bhangarh.