Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan is said to be one of the most haunted places in India. With lots of spooky tales and myths behind it, it makes for one hell of an intriguing place to visit. Here’s all you need to know about Bhangarh Fort.
About Bhangarh Fort
The haunted fort at Bhangarh is situated in Alwar district of Rajasthan between Delhi and Jaipur. It adjoins the famed Sariska Tiger Reserve and is about 220 km away from Delhi. The imposing fort was built in the 17th century and has the dubious distinction of being called the most haunted place in the country. There have been numerous sightings of ghosts and similar abnormal happenings over the past two centuries. So much so that locals are scared to death of the place and the nearest villages are quite far away. The ruins exude an uncanny aura plainly felt by anyone who visits it.
The grip of an insidious and dark mystery is so much that the ASI or Archaeological Survey of India has strictly prohibited anyone from entering and staying at the fort after sundown.
A virtual tour inside the fort
Proceeding into the ruins and past the ramparts and the imposing main gate, one can find remains of temples and several palaces or havelis. There are several more points of entry inside the fort known as Delhi Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Phulbari Gate, and Lahori Gate.
At the main entrance, you will find remains of a Hanuman Temple and Gopinath Temple. The Gopinath temple is on a raised plinth and was built from yellow sandstone and is the biggest one there. You can see superb stone carvings, and exquisite craftsmanship would have been required to create it. There is also a temple dedicated to Mangla Devi and Ganesh. A priest’s residence and even a bazaar and dancer’s palace are located in the fort premises but of course in ruins.
You can also find magnificent banyan trees growing from the crevices in the broken walls. The place is littered with broken stones and masonry, but there is a Someshwar Temple which survives mostly intact till this day.
The history behind the fort
The Bhangarh Fort was constructed in 1573 AD by Raja Bhagwant Das, the ruler of Amber from Kachwaha. His elder brother Man Singh was a well reputed general under Emperor Akbar and known as one of Akbar’s Navratnas. Bhagwant Das built the Bhangarh Fort for his son Madho Singh. Madho Singh fought in many wars besides his father and uncle. After his demise, his son Chatr Singh became the next ruler. The kingdom declined following the violent death of Chatr Singh. The famine of 1783 caused the town to become deserted, and it fell to ruins. Then came the legends which survive till today and provide an otherworldly atmosphere.
Legends and myths of Bhangarh Fort
There are in reality two legends about the fort and the spirits haunting it. Most of these can be heard from local guides in slightly twisted narratives, and it is difficult to make out which are the more accurate versions. But we try and present the stories as they are told today –
According to the first legend, King Madho Singh had to request permission from an ascetic named Balu Nath to expand the periphery of the fort. Balu Nath lived in a nearby cave. The sadhu made the king promise that the shadows of the fortress would never disturb his meditation or touch his cave. Madho Singh tried to follow this dictum, but it was not to be so. As the sun shifted south in winter, the shadows grew longer and touched Balu Nath’s cave. Woken from his deep meditation, the tantric issued a curse that the town and its people would never be able to put up another roof in the vicinity. Even today if there is new construction the roof collapses.
The other story speaks of the gorgeous princess Ratnavati of Bhangarh, the daughter of Chatr Singh. Her beauty was said to be unparalleled throughout the land. She was well liked but had a stepbrother Ajab Singh who was much hated due to his evil temperament. The story of her beauty had spread far and wide, and she had the attention of many wealthy and powerful suitors. Near the fort lived a tantric named Singhia, a man well versed in the black arts, who fell deeply in love with Ratnavati. He knew in his heart that the princess would never be attracted to him and tried many times in vain to cast a magical spell over her. One day he came upon Ratnavati’s maid buying perfume at the village. He cast his spell on the scent so that if she used it, she would fall in love with him. Ratnavati came to know of this and was furious. In her anger, she threw the bottle out of her window, and it struck the tantric (another popular version is that she threw it on a boulder which rolled and subsequently crushed the tantric). He died due to the injury, but before his death, he cursed Chatr Singh’s family and the local inhabitants. The following year Ratnavati was killed along with other inhabitants when the fort was attacked by invading Mughals.
Folklore says that the soul of the tantric still searches for Ratnavati in the ruins at night.
Best time to visit Bhangarh Fort
The best time to visit Bhangarh Fort is during winter from November to February. Try to avoid weekends/public holidays as it will be a lot more crowded with local tourists.
By order of the ASI, the fort is open only from 6 AM – 6 PM.
How to reach
The closest airport is Jaipur International Airport. The closest train stations are Bhan Kari and Dausa. You can also take a train to Alwar and then go by road. Driving is the most scenic and adventurous way to visit. If you can’t drive or are opting for a budget trip, you can catch local buses to the nearest villages (please note that local buses don’t go all the way till the entrance). The nearest village is Gola Ka Bas. Jaipur is about 90 km away and is the best option for stay as well. Delhi is 220 km away. Bhangarh can be done as a day trip from either place.
You can also visit nearby areas like Sariska Reserve, Chand Baori, Alwar, Ajabgarh Fort etc. If Jaipur is on your itinerary you might want to check out some of these places in Jaipur.
Also read: Top 40 of the most haunted places in India