How many of us believe in ghosts? Do they actually exist? Can they be felt? Believers will reply in affirmative and non-believers will perish the thought. But everybody would like to take a trip to THE den of the ghosts and such was the trip to Bhangarh, considered India's "most haunted" place.
Although it is a 300-km drive away from Delhi, yet a handful of people know about it. We started driving towards Bhangarh from Delhi early morning, expecting the journey to last not more than four hours. As not many people frequent the place, we did not have any first hand information and took guidance from a map and distance measurements available on the internet.
After crossing Gurgaon we proceeded towards Bhiwadi and turned to Alwar district in Rajasthan. Till this point we did not encounter any problem; it was a nice long drive and a little anxiety about what we would encounter at the fort.
From Alwar, as we crossed the Sariska reserve, the weather conditions changed. The sky became completely dark and in the afternoon it seemed like 7 o' clock in the evening. Dark clouds started descending over the Aravalli range and both melted into each other.
The weather condition was becoming hostile the more we approached the fort. To add to our plight, we bumped our way over at least two kilometres where there was no asphalt on the surface.
After crossing Ajabgarh, we entered into Bhangarh territory. It started raining profusely. It rained so much that visibility was down to 500 metres. Luckily we were carrying umbrellas and so without wasting a minute's time, we jumped out of the car and entered the fort. The lush green grass in the fort and its adjoining area surprised us. It did not at all seem like a place in the desert state of Rajasthan. There were many local tourists who came in groups, mostly youngsters. The dilapidated fort and the ruins welcomed us.
As we entered we found a Hanuman temple right next to the main gate. The sprawling premises has more than half a dozen temples: Hanuman Temple, Gopinath Temple, Someswar Temple, Keshav Rai Temple, Mangla Devi Temple, Ganesh Temple and Naveen Temple and a very strategically positioned Purohitji ki Haveli. It left us wondering how ghosts stay in a premises where there are so many temples!
A young tourist, Babulal, who was in a group of 10, said: "We all have come to see bhoot bangla (the fort of the ghosts)! We have heard about this place a lot and hence thought of coming once."
Text: IANS correspondent Aparajita Gupta
Image: An aerial view of Bhangarh Fort.