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Bhangarh - a town of ghosts

Bhangarh is between Jaipur and Alwar in the state of Rajasthan, India. Today Bhangarh is known for its ruins where, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has put up a signboard stating that: "Entering the borders of Bhangarh before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited." Therefore, nobody dares to go after dark, but it is believed its worth a visit; in fact the place is beautiful and tranquil. What remains though, is a shadow of a once beautiful kingdom. (Photo on left: Palace of Bhangarh).

There are different stories about Bhangarh. Some believed that, this town was established around 1573 (VS 1631) during the rule of Raja Bhagwant Das and it became the residence of his second son Madho Singh. Madho Singh was younger brother of Emperor Akbar’s General, Man Singh I of Amber. Madho Singh participated in many campaigns with his father and brother. The next ruler of Bhangarh was his son Chhatr Singh. Bhangarh slowly declined after Chhatr Singh's violent death in 1630. Close to Bhangarh is Ajabgarh, founded by Ajab Singh, the son of Chhatr Singh. When Mughal 
Empire became weaker after the death of Aurangzeb, Jai Singh II attached Bhangarh to his state by force in 1720. After this Bhangarh diminished in population, and when the famine of 1783 (VS 1840) fell on the land the town was abandoned, and has remained a ruin ever since.

Legend also has it that due to a curse of Guru Balu Nath, the whole town was vacated overnight. Balu Nath sanctioned the establishment of the town but said: "The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!" Ignorant of such foreboding, one ambitious descendant raised the palace to such a height that its shadow reached Balu Nath's forbidden retreat and the town was devastated. The small samādhi where Balu Nath lies buried is still there.

The other myth is, that, the charm of princess of Bhangarh Ratnavati was said to be matchless in all of Rajasthan. Being eighteen years old, the princess started getting matrimonial offers from the princes of other states. In the same region there lived a tantrik (person who is skilled to practice black magic), a magician well versed in the occult, named Singhia who was desperately in love with the princess, knowing that he would never be allowed to even see her, let alone meet her. One day, he saw the princess' maid in the market buying scented oil for her. Seeing this, he got an idea by which he could meet the princess. He used his black magic powers and put a spell on the oil which would hypnotize the princess by her merely touching the oil, and she would surrender herself to him. The princess got to know about this plan though, because it is believed that she had some powers in the tantrik vidya (study of black magic). She had seen the tantrik enchanting the oil, and she therefore threw it away, on a stone. As soon as the oil touched the stone, it started rolling towards the wicked tantrik and hit him hard, thus, crushed him to death. While dying, Singhia cursed the palace with the death of everyone. It is believed that, while Singhia was dying, the houses in the town started destructing all by itself. Those who could escape survived, while several died in that destruction, including the princess Ratnavati. People believe that, it is the souls of these, which still haunts Bangarh after Sun set and till Sun rise. (Photo above: ruins of the town).

It is still believed that, after Sun Set, the town is alive again and, often people can hear voices of children and of people trading in the open town for business, children playing, the prayers and the bells ringing at the temple etc. it is also believed that, who so ever visited the place after Sun set, never returned. 

Some people who visit this place say that there is a strange feeling in the atmosphere of Bhangarh, which causes symptoms of anxiety and restlessness. Nevertheless, most of people like their visit to Bhangarh. 

I had a tough time to get me a taxi to Bhangarh. When I went to the reception of my hotel and asked them if they could arrange a taxi for me to Bhangarh, I could see the man across the desk wasn't very pleased at all. And I felt every one around were staring at me. A little later, the owner of the hotel came to me saying, I should not mention visiting Bhangarh, especially openly at the reception area since, some people, do not like talking about that place, leave aside a visit there. I requested him to arrange me a taxi and, was curious to know more about Bhangarh, after making my trip. He did arrange me a taxi and, the same evening, we met again. What he told me, was something exciting to me, while, frightening to others. (Photo above on left: ruins of the Palace)

No one in Rajasthan talks about Bhangarh, especially the locals. It is only few tourists, who seem excited about visiting Bhangarh. The locals strongly believe that, after Sun set and till Sun rise, the entire town of Bhangarh is alive. Those people who could not escape, their souls still haunt the town of Bhangarh. People have heard sounds of children playing, people selling and buying things, like it happens in the open markets. And, the most exciting part is, every evening, they hear the 'arti' or the evening prayers at the temple, with the temple bells ringing etc.

The people who belong to the Bhangarh tribe are called 'mina'. It is believed that, they still exist and walk around and look just like normal humans. However, some ways to distinguish them would be for e.g. they do not cross through a door i.e. either you will see them this side of the door or the other and, they stay away from fire. 

People say that, few have met these minas and have taken their help to achieve success in the form of making quick money through their works and business. However, those who did take the help from minas also died ... since the people believe, that, these minad work with a condition, where they give you all that you would want, but they often ask something in return, which is almost impossible to give them, and thus, people end up paying with their lives. 

I got several stories, and I shall share just one; a village head, known as a 'mukhya' knew that he would lose the elections since he had a very bad reputation. He would frequently visit Bhangarh, in order to find a mina. When he did find one, he asked the mina to help him win the elections and in return he would give the mina whatever he wanted. The mina set a condition to the mukhya, saying that, he will win the election but however, he should not indulge into any physical activities with his wife anymore. The mukhya was so greedy to win the elections, that he did agree. People say that, during the elections, most of the voters complained that, although they wanted to place a vote to the other candidate, but while stamping the election document, their hand would forcefully slip to the column of this mukhya. Some people even say that, they saw a man sitting just outside the room which they had to enter in order to stamp the election document. They believe it was none other than a mina. Eventually, the mukhya did win the elections but a few months later, he might have forgotten the promise he made to the mina and while having a sexual intercourse with his wife, he suffocated to death. While dying, he told his wife all about his promise to the mina. (Photo on right: Singhia's zone/house) 

I gathered several stories about people asking mina's to help them achieve quick success in their career and works. One thing common in all these were that, after Sun set and till Sun rise, the city of Bhangarh is alive with sounds and nose of children playing and people talking, sounds of people selling and buying and the prayers from the temple etc. not every one seems to delight in sharing the tales of Bhangarh. 

There is a 'hanuma mandir' (Hanuman Temple), (Photo on left) just at the gate when you enter Bhangarh and, I met the 'Panditji' (temple priest) (Photo on the right) and had a nice long talk with him. He too confirmed all of the above. 

Those who wish to visit Bhangarh, must do so, at their own risk. I was there for some 3 hours and, it was indeed worth visiting. To see more photos of Bhangarh, please click here

Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: March 28, 2010
City: Kolkata
Country: India