Seeing the unseen forts of Rajasthan -The not so popular Bhangarh fort

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Renu and Dalip Bhardwaj are avid travellers. Married for the past 45 years they have seen the length and breadth of our Country and witnessed our rich history and culture. The thirst to experience the culture beyond our shores has taken them to more than 32 Countries, the World over. There is so much to see, there is so much to share and travel combines the beauty and diversity of mankind. So as long as you are physically fit and mentally alert, never loose an opportunity of enriching yourself by travelling.

In our column, Lockdown Diaries, this couple based in Pune share their recent sojourn to the state of Rajasthan.

Renu Bhardwaj takes us through her journey to Bhangarh fort near Jaipur.

Dimpy and I decided to drive to Bhangarh Fort, from Jaipur on way to Bhartpur. I personally had a little apprehension!!! Since it is suppose to be the most Haunted Palace in India!!

The drive to Bhangarh fort was eerie. We passed through a village that was ostensibly inhabited. The main road was lined with the ruins of once-beautiful havelis. All through I kept reciting the Hanuman Chalisa!!!!!
We had a small accident en-route and that got me thinking!!!
The Bhangarh fort was built by the Kachwaha ruler of Amber, Raja Bhagwant Singh, for his younger son Madho Singh in 1573 AD. Madho Singh’s brother was the celebrated Man Singh, who was Akbar’s general. Madho Singh was succeeded by his son Chatr Singh. It was Chatr Singh’s son Ajab Singh who built the fort of Ajabgarh.
Though it was midday, it seemed quite lonely, and a long walk from where we parked our car.

A tantrik’s curse

There are two different stories about this Fort…

1. beautiful princess Ratnavati, who was the daughter of Chatr Singh. She was the jewel of Rajasthan. Ratnavati was much younger than her stepbrother Ajab Singh, and was as universally liked as he was disliked. Tales of her beauty and delightful temperament spread far and wide and she received many marriage proposals. A tantrik priest, who was well versed in black magic, fell in love with her. But knowing that he didn’t stand a chance with the beautiful princess, he tried to cast a spell on her. Seeing the princess’ maid buying perfume for her in the village, he cast a spell on it so that Ratnavati would fall in love with him. Ratnavati came to know of this and threw the bottle. It turned into a boulder and hit the tantrik. He was crushed under its weight, but before he died, he cursed the princess, her family, and the entire village. The next year, a battle was fought between the forces of Bhangarh and Ajabgarh, which led to the death of Ratnavati and most of the army.
So they say that it was due to this curse that no one in the village or fort could be reborn; it is forever condemned to desolation and is inhabited by ghosts. If any villager tries to build a roof, it apparently mysteriously collapses.

Story 2. Apparently, there was a sadhu, Guru Balu Nath, living on top of the hill on which Raja Bhagwant Singh built the fort. His only condition for letting the fort be built there was that it should never cast a shadow on his dwelling. This condition was honoured by all except Ajab Singh, who added columns to the fort that cast a shadow on the ascetic’s house. The angry sadhu’s curse led to the ruin of the fort and the surrounding villages. A small stone hut, known as tantrik ki chatri, overlooks the fort.

Inside the fort
When we started our walk to the Fort, the first thing we saw to the right of the gate is a Hanuman Temple and a beautiful tree next to it which had at least 50m Langoors and monkeys. Maybe this Temple gave me the strength and assured that no Ghost will venture near us!!!!!! we walked through a long road lined on both sides with ruins. These were the jauhri bazaars, houses of dancing girls (Nachni ki Haveli). There were also some magnificent banyan trees, they were so majestic and beautiful. Also, we spotted a lot of birds, peacocks flying over us, since there is not too much of human traffic, the birds didn’t feel threatened by a few daring humans…indeed was breathtaking. We entered the impressive gateway to see the fort. Even though the fort was in ruins, it had three grand storeys to be explored. The Someshwara temple at the side, with its beautiful stepwell, was serene. We didn’t go inside the Fort… but the steps and the top of the fort are littered with broken columns, stones, and a forlorn-looking carved niche. What we could see from outside was that most of the walls are intact.
Entry into Bhangarh is prohibited between sunset and sunrise. By 5 pm one has to leave the Fort area. Though eerie, but its so beautiful and mesmerizing.

On the way back from the Fort, just after driving for about 15 mins, we stopped for a late lunch, and suddenly from the Fort area black clouds appeared with heavy thunder and lightning and gusty wind, then a few drops of rain….and all of a sudden everything disappeared….gives me goosebumps even thinking and writing about this!!!!..
I do not know if the fort is haunted, but it truly deserves the title of hauntingly beautiful. It is worth a visit.