There are ghosts, and there are haunted places. How many haunted places, though, have the distinction of being acknowledged by a government? None, we think.Take Bhangarh in the state of Rajasthan, India for example. Local mythology says the place is haunted, as local mythologies are wont to do. But in this case, the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) in charge of it warns people off the area!
The ASI is the official government body in charge across India of all the monuments and ruins.
Take a look at this ASI signboard in Bhangarh. The signboard is placed 1 Km away from the Bhangarh fort, which has been in ruins since the 17th century, when Bhangarh was deserted overnight. People do not enter the area as it is believed that if you do, you do not return.
What does the signboard say?
Here is a translation:
The Government of India
The Archeological Survey of India, Bhangarh
1. Entering the borders of Bhangarh before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited.
2. Shepherds and woodcutters who enter Bhangarh area will face legal action.
3. The Kewda or Pandanus trees found in Bhangarh area belong to the Archaelogy Survey of India. Is it forbidden to subject this tree to any kind of harm.
Note: Anyone flouting of the rules mentioned above will face legal action.
Supervisor, Archaelogical Survey Board
True, the signboard does not say that there are ghosts in the area, or the place is haunted. But the signboard is extremely unusual.
Locals give the Bhangarh fort, and the reasonably large area around it, a wide berth. And this is India, where there are people roaming about everywhere. But locals do not enter the area here due to some popular spooky stories associated with Bhangarh. And ASI has never denied the stories, despite everyone using the signboard as a recognition by the government of the paranormal nature of the place, or said that the signboard was placed for some other mundane reason.
Those who swear by the Bhangarh’s resident ghosts, say that the ASI too is scared of the parnanormal activity associated with the fort; hence the ASI board has been put up at a safe distance from the fort, next to a temple. Many locals and visitors claim that they have witnessed paranormal activities – like sounds of music and dancing and wierd color spots in photographs of chambers.
The mythology of Bhangarh
Story A – Standard of story of lustful wizard and beautiful maiden
One of the stories say that the Bhangarh was cursed by a tantrik (a wizard who practices dark arts), Singhia, who was in love with the beautiful princess Ratnawati of Bhangarh. Singhia added a love potion to a bowl of oil that belonged to the princess, but Singhia’s hopes were dashed (literally) when Ratnawati hurled the bowl on a wall that collapsed and buried Singhia.
A dying Scindia cursed the kingdom of Bhangarh saying that the city would be wiped out overnight, and would never be inhabited again, except for the temples. Shortly after the death of Singhia, the whole city was sacked and destroyed in the Bhangarh-Ajabgarh wars.
Bhangarh was never inhabited again, but the area around it is dotted with temples. Believers consider this a living proof of the wizard’s curse.
Story B – The real-estate obsessed wizard
The other story goes that Singhia the Wizard, practised his dark arts in the outskirts of the city. When the early Kings of Bhangarh built the city, Singhia warned them that he would not interfere with the city as long as the they did not infringe on his settlement. The kings were respectful of Singhia’s privacy, but one arrogant king refused to heed Singhia and paid for it. When the buildings overshadowed the wizard’s work area, the whole city collapsed and all its citizens were forced to flee. Since then, no one has dared to settle in the city again.
Bhangarh was built in the 17th century, by Raja Madho Singh, younger brother of Man Singh, a general of Emperor Akbar’s army. At that time, Bhangarh had a population of over 10,000. Now, not a soul lives in the ruined but still beautiful city. Bhangarh was the precursor of the exquisite old city of Jaipur, with its havelis, colorful bazaars, and temples.
Havelis are elaborate residences, almost miniature palaces, built around large courtyards. The walls are painted in bright colors with detailed frescoes. If the old city of Jaipur is anything to go by, Bhangarh must have been an extremely prosperous city. Today nothing remains but the temples.
PS. We are not believers in ghosts or haunted places here at DWS. But we do sometimes wish there were ghosts!