Saturday, September 30, 2023

It’s Haunted!


By Gayatri Sood

Ever seen Ghostbusters? Yes, it was one of the most enjoyable shows I spent my childhood drooling over. Their peculiar ways of catching monsters and sense of humour never failed to make you laugh. Now, there is another reality show called Ghost Hunters, where they go to supposedly haunted locations and record supernatural activities on tape. How many of their encounters are based on true episodes is hard to say, but these horror stories are definitely too fascinating to ignore.

Well, here’s another interesting piece of news from the horror times. We Indians can proudly claim to the outside world that we belong to a country which has a legally declared ‘Ghost-ridden’ palace. Yes, it really does exist! It’s the famous 440-year old Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan. Some of you must have already heard of it or been there, after all it is an acclaimed archaeological site as well as one of the top tourist attractions in India (solely for the spooky touch to it). Just at the entrance there is a big old sign which states, “Entering the borders of Bhangarh before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited. Legal action will be taken against anybody who does not follow these instructions.”  Now how super whacky is that?!

Let’s take a little trip to the past where two legends come to light:


The city of Bhangarh was cursed by the Guru Balu. He had sanctioned the construction of the town on one condition, “The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!” When a descendant prince raised the palace to a height that cast a shadow on Balu Nath’s forbidden retreat, he cursed the town. Balu Nath is said to be buried there to this day in a small samādhi.

There exists another myth. This is the legend of the Princess of Bhangarh, Ratnavati. She is believed to be the jewel of Rajasthan. On her eighteenth birthday she began to get offers of marriage from other regions (i.e. nobility). In the area lived a tantrik, a magician well versed in the occult, called Singhia, who was in love with the princess but knew that the match was impossible. One day Singhia saw the princess’ maid in the market. He used his black magic on the oil she was purchasing so that upon touching it, the princess would surrender herself to him. The princess, however, seeing the tantric enchanting the oil, foiled his plan by pouring it on the ground. As the oil struck the ground it turned into a boulder, which crushed Singhia. Dying, the tantrik cursed the palace with the death of all who dwelled in it. The following year there was a battle between Bhangarh and Ajabgarh in which Princess Ratnavati perished. Legends say that there are ghosts in Bhangarh and that is why entry is prohibited for tourists in the fort after sunset and before sunrise. The locals believe that the princess Ratnavati has taken birth somewhere else and that the fort and the empire of Bhangarh is waiting for her return to put an end to the curse. [Referred to Wikipedia for the legend only]

Oooh, now that’s full on creepy (legally speaking)! You see, the good thing about this being acknowledged as a haunted location is that it’s the first of many actual medieval establishments to have been accepted for what it actually is. As others just have myths and stories floating about them, one could say Bhangarh is the Tower of London for India!

Here’s another interesting fact,  the T.V. show Rani Laxmibai went off air for unknown reasons. What, you ask? The producers say that it was the T.R.Ps that ran out. However the real reason was that certain spooky events began to transpire which culminated in the lead actress, a young girl, going missing on the sets of the show (goes without saying that the shooting was taking place at Bhangarh). I guess they overstayed their welcome. Later, the next day the actress was found near a temple! Soon afterwards she had to undergo psychiatric treatment for a year before she could resume her career. A documentary on this episode was also made.

Traumatized much? I think so. Well, now viewers, pull up your socks, suck-it up, don’t be afraid, put on a ‘Ghagra’ and take a day trip to Bhanghar.  You never know, you might see a ghost basking in the sun or turn out to be the princess back to break the curse (please note: boys, don’t be afraid to wear a ghagra, you never know, the tantric might take a fancy to you and maybe, you break the curse!) Haha!



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