Bhangarh Ghost Town - India
There are very few ghost towns that have a government warning not to enter but Bhangarh in India’s Rajasthan region is one. Bhangarh was once a flourishing town of 10,000 homes but that was nearly 400 years ago. It was a beautiful city built by Raja Madho Singh with many temples and fine houses. However history seems to indicate that the city was abandoned virtually overnight.
Local legend says that the city was cursed and two stories attest to the event. The first states that a local religious man was asked for permission to build a city on the site and permission was granted with the warning that the city must never grow so big, nor its buildings so tall that it would cast a shadow that would touch the ascetic where he prayed.
Pride and megalomania meant that the warning eventually was forgotten and the city grew to match the desires and flamboyancy of its rulers. Then one day, the shadow cast by the beautiful city, touched the holy man as he prayed. At that very moment the whole sky grew dark, a great rumbling was heard and the ground began to shake. The citizens, realising what was happening, grabbed what they could and fled for their lives, never to return.
The second legend tells of a battle waged between a queen, Ratnavali and a wicked sorcerer called Singha Sevra. He set a magical web in which to catch her but her agility meant that every time she escaped his clutches.
The last battle took place on the day when the queen finally lost her temper and turned a glass bottle containing oil into a rock and flung it towards the hill-top, where the sorcerer sat. He tried summoning his power to deflect the missile but failed, not before cursing the city with the utterance “I die! But thou too, thou Ratnavali shall not live here anymore. Neither thou, nor thine kin, nor these walls of the city. None shall see the morning sun!” The queen and her people, fearing the worst spent the night hastily transferring the palace treasures to a new site of Ajabgarh. Their caution was judged sensible for in the morning came a storm which levelled the whole city.
The full curse went on to say that the city would disappear into the mists of time but that should it ever be rediscovered, only the temples would remain. To this day, visitors to the site see only the temples rising above the jungle scrub and shrines are the only buildings to be found higher up the mountain slopes.
Today, the mystery is perpetuated by the Archaeology Survey of India (ASI) who have to put a sign up by every ancient monument. With every one of India’s thousands of historical archaeological treasures the sign is immediately alongside the structure but for Bhangarh only, the sign is over a kilometre away and accompanied by a warning that no one must enter the site after dusk or before dawn.
People who visit this place say that there is a strange feeling in the air of Bhangarh, making them feel uneasy.
Most of Bhangarh is in ruins, even the temples are crumbling and the forest is gradually reclaiming the tainted land yet the splendour of those centuries ago is still evident in the decaying carvings and paintwork of the city. The remains of the palace are still clearly visible and speak of an elaborate complex. Work to restore the medieval bazaar renders it a truly fascinating experience to visitors. The Someshwar Temple found nearby is still used by locals for bathing and washing. Another worthwhile place to visit in Bhangarh is the Randiyon ka Mahal (Palace of Prostitutes). It was built to accommodate courtesans of the time amongst whom the available young women were gleaned from local wealthy families.