Bhangarh Fort – you hear this name every time someone talks about the most haunted place in India. You hear the horror stories of people who tried to enter the premises after dark. Yes, officially you are not allowed to enter the Bhangarh Fort premises from sunset to sunrise. I heard about it from travelers, in newspapers, and in books. However, it took me a long time and a serendipitous detour to reach the fort.
On this Jaipur Trip, I had Chand Baori on my plan. Bhangarh made an appearance in the dinner conversation the night before we were to visit Chand Baori. The stories worked their magic and they walked into our itinerary for the next day. We still stayed loyal to Chand Baori and then visited the fort on our way back.
Why is Bhangarh Fort Haunted?
There are two popular legends about the cursed, abandoned, deserted, and haunted Bhangarh Fort.
The first one says that a saint used to inhabit this hill. When the king wanted to build a fort for his son. Saint allowed him to, but on a condition – the shadow of none of his buildings should fall on his hut. If so happens, the place will be abandoned. In time, some building was built that cast a shadow on the saint’s hut and this brought the end of the place – converting it into a ghost town.
Read the second legend in the history below.
History of Bhangarh Fort
Bhangarh Fort was established by Raja Bhagwant Das in 1573 CE for his second son Madho Singh. His elder son is better known as Maan Singh who was Akbar’s general. It did not live for a long time and its decline started during the rule of Chhatr Singh in 1630 CE. During the time of Aurangzeb, a beautiful princess named Ratnavati ruled from here. Some say that Raja Jai Singh, who was fond of star gazing, sent her here to read stars. Ratnavati was trained in occult sciences and could potentially do black magic.
A prince named Singhia of the neighboring Ajabgarh kingdom was a known Tantrik. He fell in love with Ratnavati but she was not interested. In a black magic fight, she made a boulder fall on Singhia. He died but not before cursing Ratnavati and Bhangarh. They say his curse came true.
Soon, there was a war between the two kingdoms that led to the decline of Bhangarh. This was followed by a famine in 1783 CE in which all inhabitants died. It has been a ghost town since then. No living person has lived on its premises since then.
Visiting Bhangarh Fort
Dusty roads surrounded by sunflower fields led to the greener hills of Aravali. The first structure that I noticed was a free-standing pavilion in the middle of the fields on our right before the fort walls showed up. I would later learn that it is the tomb of the one who cursed the Bhangarh Fort. We parked the car and crossed a series of Bhutta (corn on the cob) sellers to reach the fort entrance. It seemed like just another fort – one of so many scattered across the country. You are bound to ask why it invokes so many horror stories.
At the entrance, a stone plaque shows the map of the Fort. If you spend 5 minutes on this map, you would see the layout of a well-defined city. There are houses, Havelis, markets, temples, and at the very end the royal palace. When you move your eyes from the board to the ruins in front of you, you wonder how life would have been in this well-planned fortified city.
Surrounded by the Fort walls, we walked through the living quarters. The rich Havelis stand tall even in their ruined state. The Johri bazaar is a well-planned row of shops just like the ones we see in Jaipur.
The Fort area is very green despite standing in the middle of a desert.
Temples at Bhangarh Fort
Temples are the only structures that are intact and clearly identifiable.
At the entrance, on the right, you see a tree shrine and a small temple. As you walk in you see the temple shikhara emerging out of the thick green cover of the fort premises.
The first major structure that you see is Gopinath Temple. This temple sits on a high platform – like the traditional temples of the Nagar style. We took a flight of steps to reach the temple. The door jamb of the temple is intricately carved. In the niches on either side of the door sits an idol of Ganesha and Shiv-Parvati with an inscription. The sanctum though is empty.
It is a small temple but the pedestal on which it stands tells you that it was an important temple.
This is a Shiva temple next to a water tank just outside the gate that takes you to the fort palace. The water spring, I learn is natural – it may have been the reason or necessary condition to build a fort here. The small Shiva temple has a Shivalinga and a Nandi statue – that is still worshipped.
It is fun to watch the kids play in the water and surprisingly there is a lot of fish in the water.
Keshav Rai Temple & Mangala Devi Temples I saw from a distance only.
The main palace stands on the hill compared to the rest of the fort. It is said that the palace had 7 stories. Now only 4 survive. A steep ramp twists and turns before it takes you to the palace gates.
Two long corridors on either side of the stairs are the palace. It seems strange that people would live in what looks like an army barrack.
When you go to the top, you see a lot of crumbled walls. The town within the fort is right in front of your eyes. You see the wall, the pathways, the temples, and the ruins. The hills nearby seem rugged as if they were being excavated for further construction but were left midway.
A small room is supposed to be Ratnavati’s temple but it seems empty now. When you stand here, you question, if this destruction is man-made or nature made, or as they say ghost made.
It is a place with different energy even when you see young boys jumping all around on the broken walls. It’s the kind of energy that tells you to leave the place – a kind of unwelcome energy.
My experience visiting Bhangarh Fort
You say the word haunted and you would have people who would vouch for its haunted status and the ones who would laugh it off. I went there with my usual curiosity and to experience first-hand what it feels like to be at the most haunted place in India.
As I entered I did not feel anything except the melancholy that any ruined place exudes. As we walked through the road with ruins on both sides, we were part of a happy crowd clicking pictures. At the trees around the ruins, it was a photo stop for me – the formations did look spooky, but then is that not what we know the Banyan tree for?
It was when we were passing through the Bazaar part of the fort, I felt a push to the left. For a few steps, I felt I was being pushed to the left while there was no one on the left. A while later, I stopped and looked back to observe the spot where I felt the push. I saw there was an empty space – unlike the rest of the street, at this spot, people walked to the left or right and no one was crossing that spot. It was like someone is standing there.
Princess Ratnavati’s Palace
Later as we were climbing the stairs to go to the top of the fort, we feel a gush of air coming from the empty corridors. It is not just another air, it does carry some strange energy. On top of the palace, where I was told it is Princess Ratnavati’s palace. The ruins look like they have just become ruins with thunder. The energy here is heavy, but the view of the fort from here is breathtaking. I think the view beckons me more than the small temple there. I must add there were lots and lots of people on the day we visited the fort in August 2017. It might be a very different experience if you are alone there.
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti on the fort
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti is a trained Wiccan. In January 2012, she traveled to the Fort with her team which she calls Wiccan Brigade. They carried with them sophisticated cameras, magnetometers, and compasses.
Ipsita believes that certain places on earth have a restless energy and sensitive people can sense it. Taking the Ratnavati-Singhia story forward, she believes that it was probably the seat of magic where people came for physical & mental healing or to attain their spiritual gains. She conjectures that locals still come here to exorcize women who are possessed. She saw a live example of this during her visit. While saying this she refers to the long rows of small rooms on the premises which cannot be homes or even shops. Some of these are double-storeyed with steps in the corner leading to upper floors.
Ipsita senses strange energy in the large Banyan trees that engulf some of the fort structures. The compass needles she said were quivering and spinning near trees constantly. At places, her team’s cameras went blank – which is strange. I was conscious of this and my simple point-and-shoot camera seem to have captured all the images well.
In the two dark rooms at the end of the corridor in the main palace building, Ipsita found the fire rituals being performed. She says she not only senses the magical powers of the past but the fact that they are being kept alive by present-day rituals. She says the rituals are disturbing the energies, and we must allow them to rest.
Ipsita says her sensitive cameras captured a strange display of light – which is difficult to explain. She strongly believes that it is not a military fort but a magical fort. The palace is built on a natural rise underneath which is a source of natural spring water.
Ipsita talks about the strange behavior of her team post the visit.
Read more about her experience in the book – Travelling In, Travelling Out
- Entry to the Fort is free.
- It is best visited from Jaipur (80 Km) though it can be done from Delhi (260 km) as well.
- Except for small snacks, there is no food that is available.
- Please do carry water, although the kind people there offer water to tourists.
- Do not go early morning or late evening, but try to go in the morning to avoid the harsh sun. There is no shade on the premises.
- The ramp leading to the palace is very steep and uneven – unless you are very confident, you can avoid climbing it.
As far as I could see there were no hotels around the place. We stayed in Jaipur at Lebua Resort and I think it would be best to stay at a hotel in Jaipur to visit this haunted place.
Rajasthan Tourism Hotels are advisable if you plan to take public transport.
कुछ साल पहले यह खण्डहर देखे थे।
दिन में तो डरावनी जगह नहीं लगती,
रात को किसी को रहने नहीं देते।
सही कहा संदीप जी. अगर आप थोड़े संवेदनशील हैं तो कुछ आभास तो होता है दिन में भी।
good read..this is true that this place has some energy. I heard a story that a group of thrill seekers went to this fort at night and one of them even stayed there, next they they found him inside the temple. He was ok but with no memory.
Thanks, Mithun. Like I mention in the story above, I did feel a strange energy that was particularly strong at certain points. I am sure it would be heightened when there are no people and no sun around.
I wanted to visit this while on a recent trip to Tijara Fort. But the lazy bums I travelled with didn’t want to step out at all! Seems like an interesting place.
Shweta, that is the downside of traveling with others sometimes 🙂
Anuradha, I am not a risk taker when it comes to places like this. I can’t even watch horror movies.
Bhangarh seems very eerie and the restless energy already scares me even reading it. You are so brave!
Ishita, you should see me in the presence of a dog to know how brave I am. But yes, these kinds of places only make me curious, I want to go and experience them first hand. I am sure if ghosts decide to make an appearance, we will be good friends soon 🙂
This is super interesting. Where you able to go in most of the buildings? It’s really nice that a site like this is free for entry for the public. Adding it to the India bucket list!
Sarah, during the day you can visit the whole place. Yes, it is free of cost for those who can dare to go there 🙂
For some this place would be great, I get scared so easily, I don’t think I’d risk visiting here. Great read about the history of this place though.
Nerissa – during the day it is not scary, there are so many people all around. Bhangarh is not risky to visit.
that fort looks so creepy! I believe in these haunted tales!
love that awesome tree though!
Harmony – the trained Wiccans find that tree most haunting. I also found it quite interesting – a sign of how life grows – just about anywhere.
This place seems so interesting to visit! I would definitely not want to be there at night though! Lol
Christine – even if you want to, you can not go there after – its official orders. I found it a very photogenic place during the day.
I’m like you.. I would go check it out myself despite the horror stories haha! The temples are absolutely beautiful. I wonder how Bhangarh Fort is so green even while being in the desert.
Bingo Selam. This is a green patch in the middle of a desert – that is a bigger surprise. Yes, strangely temples are not just beautiful but they have not faced any destruction.
Interesting read. 🙂
I like ruins so it was kind of my thing, I just wished there where less people there. Crowds are not my thing and it was hot that day, so I decided not to go up. By the way, still can’t believe you went up, it was really hot! It’s a nice place to go in a group, I would not go there alone as a foreigner. I felt at times odd at place (when I was alone with Bina) with some kids taking pictures in hiding.
Thanks Helene. I was a sucker for such places. My energy levels are very high when I am travelling compared to when I am at home. Yes, it was crowded and probably that is why it did not feel scary at all.
That looks so interesting. I totally believe that you can feel the energy in locations that experienced powerful circumstances. Thanks for providing the history because that really helped in understanding why this place would be considered haunted.
Kristi, I am not sure if the energy followed the legend or the legend followed the energy. There is something different in the air there.
Very interesting post. I am so intrigued by this type of history. I would love to visit just for the historical signifance of the area. I am so glad you included that aspect in your article.
Thank you, Michelle
Interesting post though i would rather be far from haunted places. Anuradhaji please write someday about haunted places in Chandigarh
Amarvir – Please tell me more about haunted places in Chandigarh. I grew up in Chandigarh but never heard of haunted places there.
Wow. I’m not a believer of ghost stories; however, once I am allowed to visit India, I think I’d add this to my list of things to do/see 🙂
Lavdi – I quite enjoy the quirky places like this one.
Besides being potentially haunted, the entire place looks super mystical. Would love to photograph the area!
Jasmine – it is a very photogenic fort – you would enjoy shooting there.
Wonderful fort … Great to read about Bhangarh Fort and ghost stories.
I know, ghost stories always make a good read.
I would be terrified to visit…I’d laugh it off then scream to Hugh heaven if I felt or heard or saw something…
Siarra, with so many people around, there is no way you will be scared 🙂
Interesting and scary too.
We visited Bhangarh in February 2016 when we had been staying at Vanaashryia close to Sariska Wildlife Park. Bhangarh was interesting and little known on the way down to Jaipur.
Aline – Bhangarh is quite popular in India but may be not as much outside India. I think it has a great potential for ghost tourism but unfortunately there are not even guides there to guide you or tell stories.
Anuradha ji, I really wished I could also have a job like you 😉
I had heard about Bhangarh and even thought of visiting it once, but couldn’t. But the way you have described it, it surely is in my list now.
You explained your visit beautifully. Would have been more interesting had you included some more spooky experiences of people who visited there.
And regarding energies, do you not think that sometimes it is our mind which makes us feel certain things, which actually are not there?
Vinay Ji – No one gave me this job. I created it for myself, for this is what I wanted to do. Go ahead and create a life that you want to live. I can talk about my experience there. Mind also creates energy – that is true.
It is super interesting to know about this fort.
I always heard about bhangarh fort, The most haunted place of India. thanks for the Beautiful article.
मैं भी rajasthan से हूं और जयपुर बहुत बार गया हूं इन जगह पे नहीं घूम सका पर अब जरूर जाना चाहूंगा भानगढ़ मेरा सब से प्रिय रहेगा इस को जरूर देखना चाहूंगा। इस के साथ एक नाम और है जो कुलधरा गांव बहुत सुना है।
Pratap, you can read about Kuldhara too on IndiTales. Rajasthan is a beautiful state.