Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Not on the map, part III, Bhangarh – a ghost town

with 11 comments

On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our Delhi-Jaipur road trip, we had spent the night in Sariska and were on our way to Bhangarh that morning, a 17th century ghost town.

Our road was narrow and unpaved. A landscape of spring time fields full of fresh green shoots, village women in their bright chunris, wrinkly old men herding goats, buffaloes and children bathing at the same water hole, blue sky above, and georgette like veil of clouds. Dotting this landscape were ruins of old forts and chattaris, cenotaphs and occasionally, ads for mobile phones.

I may have mentioned before, Bhangarh was nowhere to be found on our map of Rajasthan. We asked villagers we met on the road. Often we got conflicting directions. We didn’t know when we would reach Bhangarh – it could be in an hour or it could be the next day. We shared the road with goat herds, camel carts and tractors. I doubt we made more than 20 kms every hour.

At times a close encounter with the camel kind would nudge us off the road. I have seen camel races on TV so I know they can run. But if you see a camel up close, it is hard to imagine these long legged bored and lugubrious looking animal running. On a narrow road, when their drooling mouths and big teeth approach close to your face, it can get a bit creepy.

Ruins of Bhangarh

Ruins of Bhangarh

We actually reached Bhangarh by midday. Established in mid 1600s and abandoned in early 1700s, Bhangarh is now a ghost town. Guidebooks will have you believe that it is considered a haunted place by the local folks. Although not old, it is supposedly a charming ruin – a fort, some temples and what once was a village with 10,000 people. A fairytale legend surrounding Bhangarh’s abandonment has the usual masalatantrik lusts after the beautiful queen, queen resists, tantrik curses city. I have only read cut and paste versions of this same story on the web, so who knows what the real reason is. Likely some battle or other that Bhangarh lost.

On entering the premises, the very first thing you notice are the ruins of the village. This area is quite remarkable, cobbled streets, planned layout – it looks in parts like Machu-Picchu. After exploring these, we wandered around the temples. Two were more prominent – they stood a little secluded from the village, each one on a small hillock. A goat herder resting on the steps of one of the temples told us that while no one stayed in the premises after sun down, the temples were in fact still in use. The temples are indeed partially restored, although in a haphazard fashion. From anywhere in the village, one could see the fort and the lookout high up on the hill. I am sure that the fort would have provided a good vantage point for Bhangarh, but it was too lazy a day to walk all the way up.

Temples of Bhangarh

Temples of Bhangarh

We did some people watching instead. A water reservoir was close to the base of the fort. Surrounding the reservoir was a well maintained lawn. I suspect ASI is responsible for maintenance. There were several groups of villagers here. Some enjoying picnic lunches. Some bathing. Kids were running around or diving. We overheard one woman cursing loudly on her mobile. Several dozen monkeys had gathered close – where there are people, there are monkeys!

While there were no other city tourists like us, it was clearly a weekend tourist spot for the villagers. It was indeed charming – just what the guidebook had promised. Although, to be perfectly honest, I had hoped for greater isolation. Was I thinking that the superstitions associated with the ruins would keep the crowds away? In any case, it was time for us to find our way to our next destination – Abhaneri, site of an 8th century stepwell.

Travel Note: Please click on Delhi-Jaipur Travel Album for all pictures from the trip. Bhangarh is somewhere between city of Alwar and Jaipur. We had a large map of Rajasthan and Bhangarh was not marked. But, it is fairly easy enough to find directions from other travelers on the road. Keep plenty of food and water. We didn’t find any lunch place en route. We had packed lunch thanks to Sariska circuit house cook otherwise we would have had to live on tea.

Related locomotoring entries:

  1. Abhaneri, a day trip from Delhi as well as Jaipur (more)
  2. McLeadganj, a vacation spot in Himachal (more)
  3. Ramlila, a Hindu festivity in Delhi (more)
  4. A carnivore’s dilemma in Delhi (more)
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11 Responses

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  1. Hi, I want to subscribe for this website to obtain latest
    updates, thus where can i do it please help.

    search

    September 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm

  2. Please guide me, I want to visit Bangarh in Nov 2010 after visiting Sariska. Worried about road condition. Any updates. Understand during CWG Raj Tourism ran buses to Bangarh, may be the road is fine. Also from Sariska to Bangarh and back how much time should it take with say an hour or two at Bangarh. Please help

    Anurag

    October 19, 2010 at 9:25 am

    • Anurag – The roads are probably as navigable as roads tend to be in rural India. We could find no maps which showed us the route, so we asked people along the way for directions. Perhaps Rajasthan Tourism has better information on the place?

      Sachin

      October 20, 2010 at 2:06 am

  3. I have read many a things about Bhangard and i am really very keen to know more about it…i am planning my journey to bhangard the very next month…could you people plz help me so that i could know how to continue my journey from jaipur…i hope it wud really be a thrilling one

    Priyanka Agrawal

    February 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  4. […] hotel room rates. You can also combine the trip with a longer trip to Jaipur via the ghost town of Bhangarh, the tiger sanctuary Sariska and Abhaneri – site of a 8th century […]

  5. yaar there is no ghost or anything scary over there !!!!
    i went over there wid my frnds at new year’s eve at 0100 on 01/01/2010 , nd were there till 8 o’clock in d morning .

    it was no fun over there except d security guard at d entry gate

    Akshat

    January 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    • Really..?? are there no ghosts..?? Then wats d reason for keeping so much of security and why the people are not allowed to go there after the sunset..?

      Priyanka Agrawal

      February 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm

  6. Hello Som,

    I seriously couldnt find this place on the map… nice find. Me and my friends are planning for a bike trip from Mumbai to Rajhastan… would like if you can help us with the things to see in Rajhastan as this is my first time and want to see never before seen rajhastan…

    Thanks

    Vignesh Iyer

    September 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    • Vignesh –

      Reliable detailed maps of the area are hard to come by, so we just asked directions along the way. In our case, it was possible to plan our trip up to Sariska using maps, but no further than that. Keep in mind that even the locals guiding you may not always be right. But it adds an element of uncertainty, and therefore, fun, to the journey.

      Best of luck with your trip,
      Som

      locomotoring

      September 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm

  7. Good luck with the rest of the adventure. Best, Kam

    k raghavan

    July 18, 2008 at 10:38 am

  8. Wow…I am so jealous what a fabulous journey so far….how long do you plan to travel for?

    i am a indian woman who has come back to India on a project via a few countries on the way -

    k raghavan

    July 18, 2008 at 10:37 am


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