A day at spooky Bhangarh in Rajasthan

Hitaishi Majumder | Live the World

November 23, 2022

What will you do if I tell you that there are still a few places in India which will give you chills down your spine? Will you be willing to go there? If you are someone who likes to take a walk down the dusty alleys of history while getting a taste of the unknown, I have the perfect destination in mind for you. The sixteenth-century Bhangarh Fort, situated in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, was built by Bhagwant Das, a general of Mughal Emperor Akbar, for his younger son Madho Singh. It is located on the border of the Sariska Tiger Reserve at the foothills of the Aravalli mountain range. Surrounded by lush green forests which have made their home inside the dilapidated fort, the spooky town of Bhangarh is sure to give you the chills and thrills.

Legends of the Bhangarh Fort

© istock/ travelview

As with historical places, Bhangarh Fort is rife with its own set of legends. If you know them beforehand, they will add another layer of mystery to the acres of ruins of the fort. A legend goes that once a saint in Bhangarh had decreed that no other house in the area could be taller than his own, and if the shadow of such a house fell on his home, the fort town would find its inevitable destruction. Another legend says that a wizard adept at black magic fell in love with the princess of Bhangarh and gave her a love potion one day. However, the princess refused his potion and threw it on a rock, which eventually rolled onto him and killed him. It is said that before he died, he cursed the town and pushed it to its demise. It is fascinating to listen to the stories from the guides readily available for hire outside the fort. Their tales, mixed with the creepy ambiance of the fort, give a feeling of dread that stories will probably not be able to induce!

A day at and around Bhangarh Fort

© istock/ amlanmathur

A trip to Bhangarh Fort is best in the morning or during the evening. Beware that you are not allowed to be inside the fort premises after sunset though. Since it is difficult to avoid the harsh sun in Rajasthan, it is better to pre-plan things. Bhangarh Fort has five gates, and apart from the main gate, there are the Lahori Gate, the Ajmeri Gate, the Phulbari Gate, and the Delhi Gate. But before you enter the fort, be prepared to be mesmerized by the beauty of the road. As mentioned above, Bhangarh is surrounded by the Aravali Range. That means you will be enveloped by greens throughout your journey. 

Once you reach the fort premises, there are acres of land leading to the main building. However, this is not just another walk through some shrubs because around you will be the ruins of ancient homes of the villagers who lived there. The scene is astonishing. From the get-go, Bhangarh will give you chills. After the acres of ruins, there is the entrance to the main fort where there are many old temples and the ruins of the palace. 

© Wikimedia Commons/ C980040

The palace is beautiful. Once you reach the top of the palace, you will get a stunning panoramic view of Bhangarh town. Of course, the palace is completely in ruins, but there is something absolutely mysterious and scary about the place that will give you shivers down your spine. You can walk around the entire palace and fort, which will take some time. Unfortunately, you will not be able to reach every nook and cranny of the fort as most of it has been taken over by nature.

How to reach Bhangarh Fort

© istock/ Soumyakanti Mandal

Bhangarh is located around 84.1 km from Jaipur. The closest international airport is the Jaipur International Airport. The town is well connected to all major cities by road, with Delhi being around 235 km away. It is a good idea to travel from Jaipur, as you can either take your own vehicle or rent a vehicle from the city. However, know that the road is not the best and the last 2 km to the fort entrance is unpaved. So, expect a somewhat bumpy ride. Regardless, the scenic beauty might just give you some respite.

Chand Baori

© istock/ Marlanph

If you are done with the fated Bhangarh trip and want to explore something else in the area, then head over to Chand Baori. Situated in the village of Abhaneri in Alwar, it is a deep, four-sided stepwell with a massive temple on its back facade. Consisting of 3,000 narrow steps over 13 stories, approximately 100 ft into the ground, Chand Baori is magnificent.

Legends of Chand Baori

© istock/ javarman3

As splendid as Chand Baori is, there are dark legends that surround the structure. This is, after all, one of the oldest step-wells in India – thus, supernatural stories are galore. One of the most well-known legends is that Chand Baori was constructed in one night! Of course, just pictures of the structure would tell you that is quite impossible. So then, what is the only rational explanation? Ghosts, of course! Another well-known legend is that the ruins are haunted by Jinns to this day. If you are unfamiliar with these beings, Jinns are supernatural creatures of Islamic Arabian descent. Jinns are often mentioned with the devil and are said to bring about misfortune, destruction and diseases. The Jinns of Chand Baori apparently will not let you ascend the stairs in the order you descended them. 

At Chand Baori

© istock/ Oleksii Hlembotskyi

It might take you a minute to soak in the wonder that is Chand Baori. You might also give a mental salute to the artisans who dug 100 ft into the ground and then carved 3500 steps and a palace inside. After you are done soaking in the sights, you can start to venture down the labyrinth of steps to the bowels of the Baori. The water at the bottom is green due to algae. Walking down the stairs to the water and then back up is quite a task. Explore the different corners of the Baori – the balconies, the rooms and the corridors that the royalty walked once - and take in the beauty of the intricate carvings that lace the structure.

How to reach Chand Baori

© istock/ Arpan

Once you are done looking around Bhangarh, hop on your car and travel 64.4 km to Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri. It will take approximately 1 hour 26 minutes. If you want to go to Chand Baori first, then it is around 95 km from Jaipur. Take your own car or rent one from the city since Abhaneri is not very well-connected. The Baori is open from 8 am to 6 pm.

Although the legends surrounding these places seem silly to modern cosmopolitan people, there is still something mysterious and majestic about Bhangarh Fort and Chand Baori. If not anything, they will definitely make you stop in your track and take note. The supernatural stories and myths add a layer of intrigue to an already interested mind. So, if you want a taste of history with a dash of ancient Indian architecture and a sprinkling of folklore, a day in spooky Bhangarh town might just be the perfect plan. 

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