Bhangarh : The Ruined City and The Ghosts I Met There

 

Ever been compelled to watch a horror movie in the dead of night even though you know it would lead to countless sleepless nights? Ever been infatuated with the idea of exploring a haunted house? No? Yes? I was.

So were four of my friends. The big question was – where? Residing in Delhi which has seen its share of cold-blooded assassinations, bloody battles and betrayals, we thought it would be easy to spot restless, revengeful souls here. After making trips to the Khooni Darwaza, the Malcha Mahal, Agrasen ki Baoli and even a neighbouring house in the residential area of Lajpat Nagar, and not meeting any ‘other worldly’ (just because it is an accepted term, if they are in this world, how are they other-worldly? Anyway more on that later) creatures, we couldn’t decide where would our efforts find fruition. We finally zeroed down upon Bhangarh. What better place to get the thrills than a ruined city which is famed to be India’s most haunted place?

Archaeological Survey of India board

Archaeological Survey of India has put up a stone inscription outside the fort describing the construction

On the D-day, we rose early and started preparing ourselves according to the lengthy to-do list put together by our friend. She insisted that the place was infested with djinns who cling to open hair – which made all of us pull our hair into tight buns. Applying perfume or fragrant shampoo was a definite invitation for ghosts – hence, avoided. We had breakfast with an uneasy sense of foreboding and then drove away. Throughout the 60-odd km drive to the destination form Jaipur, we were excited and discussing details with our jolly driver – Param bhaiya (In India men are ‘bhaiya’ until they become ‘uncle’ at about the age of fifty or so. It is the polite way of addressing them).

It was a bright December morning. As the majestic ruins loomed towards our eyes, the Sun warmed our souls and we walked on towards the fort from our car. And I thought, would it be just as beautiful had it not been chaotic? If this is its state in abandonment, how did it look at the peak of prosperity?

Stairway of Bhangarh

The stairway leading upto the main fort complex of Bhnagarh

Immersed in thoughts, we came upon a notice by the Archaeological Survey of India, prohibiting anyone from staying inside before sunrise and after sunset. After reading this proclamation of the dangers inside, we ventured onwards into the realm of ghosts.

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My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 2) – The Tea Factory, The Workers And Some Conversations

If you missed Part 1, read here – My Sojourn in Kolukkumalai (Part 1) – An Early Appointment With The Sun and Suicide Points

Alam (our driver) was telling us about his daily life before we stopped at the suicide point. He was used to making three, sometimes four round trips to the Kolukkumalai factory. That is six to eight hours of driving on the rocky terrain at a tardy speed of 5-10 kmph with frequent stops to let other cars pass and to click pictures. He was from a village in Tamil Nadu from where he and his parents would come to work in the tea estates in Kerala every day. Sometimes they took thirty minutes to walk from their village, small village problems he said, not like the cities with roads and highways. I thought about myself, spending an hour stuck in bumper to bumper traffic to reach the glass windows, the claustrophobic steel of my office. Well, this did look like a tiny village problem.

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

This pretty meandering path running between the plantations is the rocky road we traversed at a speed of 5-10 kmph

Now that the day was ripe, more jeeps had joined us on the rickety road. Alam turned up the sound system and then we realized how very special our jeep was in comparison to the others. He was a fan of Pop music and was humming to Justin Bieber’s hit single ‘Baby Baby Baby ooooh’. Akon, however was his favorite star. Conversation was stemmed because of the music so we lifted the flaps which acted as doors of the jeep to let in the sunshine and the view. Everything was surreal, the rocks, the endless cover of green symmetry. There were the dreamy, so-clean-it-could-hurt-your-eyes-if-you-stare-for-too-long jade inhabitants of the plantation our aim was to explore today, lined up all about us in a surreal symmetrical fashion. The tea gardens were a reminder of order, that was absent in my daily, chaotic existence of caffeine fuelled writing and sleep held ransom by internet.

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SlowRover Snapshots #14

The narrow passage through the green cover looks like an entrance to Anaconda's lair

The narrow passage through the green cover, with knobbly branches stretching out their arms, definitely looks like an entrance to Anaconda’s lair

Title: Anaconda’s lair in Kerala
Location: Poovar, Kerala

I hope you won’t judge me for admitting that I haven’t seen any of the movies of the Anaconda franchise. Sure I have seen a scene or two while surfing channels but my attention has always been stolen by Colin Firth playing Darcy or Ellen’s wisecracks. So, I was surprised when during a backwaters tour in Kerala, my guide told me that the third part in the series was partially shot there. But I wasn’t amazed. In fact the dense, ghoulish green cover made it an apt setting. The presence of solitary, abandoned vessels further strengthened my beliefs.

An abandoned boat - a sign of imminent danger?

An abandoned boat – a sign of imminent danger?

I do know now that Anaconda was shot in Romania (thanks to Google and lots of scandalised friends). But I think the location would be just too apt. Take the hint Hollywood!

SR Travel Tip: Try to visit Kerala between the months of May-August. The humid climate keeps most tourists away (not all, of course). I stayed at the Over the Hill Resort and would definitely recommend it for its services and tasteful architecture.

-Swetambara

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SlowRover Snapshots #13

CharlesBridge (1)

Title: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Location: Prague, Czech Republic

I was celebrating Halloween in Prague. As I walked on the Charles Bridge, I stopped at one of the most popular of the 30-odd baroque sculptures adorning the bridge – John of Nepomuk. He was the vicar who was unceremoniously tossed into the Vltva river sometime in the 14th century. Instructions for the King, describes how a jealous King Venceslaus had tried to find out the name of his Queen’s alleged lover from the vicar who refused to betray the seal of confession and invited the King’s wrath.

He became a martyr and was the Queen’s bridge over troubled water.

SR Travel Tip: Take a long walk on the Charles Bridge and it will be difficult to not be overpowered by the delicious scent of fresh trdelník in the air. Krusta is one good place to try the traditional Czech pastry.

-Swetambara

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A Chance Encounter In McLeod Ganj And The Musings Of A Wandering Mind

Woods are enchanting.They are partially the reason for my fixation with mountains. While reading Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood in my childhood, I had convinced myself that woods were magical. And somehow they held more of a sway over me, it seemed to be more potent than the magic of the toys which used to come alive in her other stories. Pixies, goblins, fairies, unicorns – all could be my friends if I lived in the woods.

As I grew up, I was faced with the strict logic of textbooks which declared Santa Claus to be nothing more than an impersonator (I think he is a phenomena). Anyway, the books were still there. The Forbidden Forest deepened my liking for the woods, grave as the dangers lurking there might be. So, I can safely say that I love the rank of trees, the smell of pine cones and sweet Earth, the little rocks which make great seats to sit and ponder life.
So much for my growing up. But this story isn’t about that.

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The Ross Island- Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces

Ross Island is a deserted island that is a part of the Andaman archipelago in India. Once the seat of the royal Britishers, it now lies in utter ruins. A shadow of its earlier self.

Despite this, Ross Island has a charm of its own.

This post covers the macabre beauty of the  Ross Island.

Welcome to Ross Island

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This sight greets you at Ross Island

Sights like these are abundant:

IMG_4069Nature, the Ultimate Conqueror

Ross SIlandA little perspective

Nature has engulfed everything here, EVERYTHING:

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IMG_4166Only the memory remains!

But there’s more to see here:

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Some views are more beautiful than others:

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Whoaaa!

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An old swimming pool!

IMG_4215An ancient tree at Ross Island

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The Presbyterian Church

IMG_4234-001The Ross Island Cemetery

IMG_4243Yes, this place has a beautiful pond!

Wildlife’s abundant too :

IMG_4196Deers roam freely here

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Liked the images? Check out our other post on Andamans.
Click here to read more about the history of Ross Islands.

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

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© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht. 

The Pigeons of Jaipur

The City Palace is one of the most frequented tourist destination in Jaipur. Throngs of tourists, both Indian and foreigners, come to see this beautiful palace/museum everyday.

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The City Palace, Jaipur

All the tourists, whether they arrive in those mammoth Volvos or in the humble ‘desi’ alternative– the cycle rickshaws, have to enter the vicinity of the City Palace via a narrow gate.

I call it the ‘Pigeon Gate‘ and this is where our story starts.

Do you recall the “Coo-Coo” sound that a pigeon makes? Some people like it while some people abhor it.

Now amplify the same Coo-Coo sound a million times, add to that the sound made by the flapping of an unimaginable number of wings– that’s what standing at the Pigeon Gate feels like.

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Get Out Of The Way!!
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Now, don’t get me wrong. It is indeed an astonishingly overwhelming experience to be surrounded by pigeons who outnumber the population of certain European cities. But that’s not what this article is about.

This article is about a symbiotic relationship between humans and pigeons probably unique to this place.

Right in front of the Pigeon Gate is a massive courtyard bisected by a busy road (the same road that passes through the Pigeon Gate and eventually leads to the City Palace). The vicinity of the courtyard seems to be the favourite hangout spot of all the Pigeons of Jaipur. Boy, do they rule this place!

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The reason for this strange endearment towards this particular area, as I later found out, is food! The courtyard is perennially brimming with food grains, purposely thrown by both the tourists and the locals.

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Meanwhile, Mrs. Cow enjoying the Feast!
Flocks after flocks of pigeons accumulate all over and around the courtyard and hungrily gnaw at the abundant feast lying there. Once a flock has eaten to its heart’s content, it flies away from the spot to make way for the next flock of pigeons to do the same. Yes, all of them fly off at once! (And trust me, it is an unforgettable moment when a flock of thousands of pigeons just casually flies over your head!).
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Now here comes the interesting part. At one corner of the very same courtyard, a bunch of people were selling food-grains, which were kept in open baskets, to the tourists. Surprisingly, not even a single pigeon made an attempt to steal the food kept in the open baskets of the food-grain sellers. It was as if both the parties- the pigeons and the sellers, had made a silent agreement to keep this fruitful partnership going.

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Both of them respected each other’s territory. Both of them enjoyed the fruits!
How beautiful!

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Struck by the discovery of this constructive paradigm, I broke into a smile of cognizance.
Since it was the only thing left to do, I bought a packet of grains for 60 bucks and fed the street smart pigeons.

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I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. Neither could they.

-Vibhav Bisht


The author is a hardworking lazy-ass! He loves to travel though!
Feel free to disturb his naps on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Slow Rover on Twitter!

© Copyright for all the images owned by SlowRover and Vibhav Bisht.