New Delhi -°C
Today in New Delhi, India

Dec 15, 2019-Sunday
-°C

Humidity
-

Wind
-

Select city

Metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Other cities - Noida, Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhopal , Chandigarh , Dehradun, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi

Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Malcha Mahal: From the abode of ‘royals’ to ghost house

For over three decades, Malcha Mahal, a 14th-century hunting lodge in the middle of Delhi’s ridge forest, inhabited by the self-proclaimed royal family of Oudh, remained out of bounds for those uninvited. Until the afternoon of September 3, 2017, not many had entered the lodge. And then one afternoon, the palace’s last resident, Prince Ali Raza was found dead.

delhi Updated: Nov 28, 2019 06:03 IST
The ruins of Malcha Mahal after almost two years of the death of its last inhabitant, the self-proclaimed, Prince Ali Raza. Raza, 58, died on September 2, 2017 following a brief illness. It came to be known as Wilayat Mahal after Begum Wilayat Mahal of Awadh who was reportedly given the place by the government of India in May 1985.
The ruins of Malcha Mahal after almost two years of the death of its last inhabitant, the self-proclaimed, Prince Ali Raza. Raza, 58, died on September 2, 2017 following a brief illness. It came to be known as Wilayat Mahal after Begum Wilayat Mahal of Awadh who was reportedly given the place by the government of India in May 1985. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
         

Time: 1.30 am, Inside Malcha Mahal.

First voice: Kuch to gadbad hai (Something is definitely wrong).

Someone coughs.

Second voice: Arey khaans ke kyun dara rahe ho (why are you coughing, I am scared).

The man coughs again. His friend scolds him for making a noise.

In the dark, walking with cell phone flashlights switched on, the three see a flicker of light in one of the rooms. One of them says it must be the lights from the nearby Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) building. They hear noises from the jungle behind the palace. They pick up a stone as a weapon for self-defence. “Let’s go,” they say in unison.

The video titled -- Night stay in Haunted Malcha Mahal -- ends.

For over three decades, Malcha Mahal, a 14th-century hunting lodge in the middle of Delhi’s ridge forest, inhabited by the self-proclaimed royal family of Oudh, remained out of bounds for those uninvited. Until the afternoon of September 3, 2017, not many had entered the lodge. And then one afternoon, the palace’s last resident, Prince Ali Raza was found dead.

In the months since that September afternoon, the entry to the stone palace has become a free for all. A five-hundred-year-old structure that was for decades strictly out of bounds has become the new haunt for the city’s ghostbusters and those who want to experience the supernatural.

‘Kashmir Ghost’ is scribbled on the entrance to the hallway inside the so-called palace. Exactly in the middle of one of the rooms, there are remains of a bonfire. The wall next to it is smeared with vermillion and so are its walls – signs that may be part of an occult practice or maybe not.

The lodge in the Malcha village ridge is surrounded by a thick forest cover in the middle of the city. The police use horses to patrol the jungle area once a day.

Over the last two years, bats and pigeons have taken over the palace. The liquor bottles, chips packets, and cigarette packets are strewn across the palace suggest the palace gets its fair share of visitors – wanderers, tourists, locals, party-goers, vagabonds and the Ghostbusters
Over the last two years, bats and pigeons have taken over the palace. The liquor bottles, chips packets, and cigarette packets are strewn across the palace suggest the palace gets its fair share of visitors – wanderers, tourists, locals, party-goers, vagabonds and the Ghostbusters ( Burhaan Kinu/HT )

For over three decades, Prince Ali Raza lived at the palace with his mother Wilayat and sister Shakina. Proclaiming themselves as descendants of the Oudh Royal family, the three had refused to leave the 14th-century hunting lodge until the government returned their ancestral property. A New York Times article recently suggested that the three may not have been related to the Royal family. The reporter interviewed Raza’s relatives who said Raza was no prince. They said Wilayat hallucinated. The three took the truth to their graves.

In the last two years, after their death, the palace has been added to the list of haunted places in Delhi. “We have received about 4-5 complaints of people coming inside the palace at night. Some of them came here after hearing that the palace is haunted. We had to chase them away,” a police constable, who regularly patrols the jungle, said.

Over the last two years, bats and pigeons have taken over the palace. The liquor bottles, chips packets, and cigarette packets are strewn across the palace suggest the palace gets its fair share of visitors – wanderers, tourists, locals, party-goers, vagabonds and the Ghostbusters. The crockery, books, bedsheets and the framed photographs of the family that police spotted on the palace walls on the day Prince Raza was found dead too are missing. The utensils are gone. A portion of a wooden bed is strung to a tree near the palace. Nobody knows how the bed wound up at the tree.

‘Kashmir Ghost’ scribbled over a door of the Malcha Mahal.
‘Kashmir Ghost’ scribbled over a door of the Malcha Mahal. ( Prawesh Lama/HT Photo )

The Archaeological Survey of India is yet to take over the fort. An ASI officer said, they had recorded the condition of the monument after Raza’s death in 2017 and proposed restoring it. “We have recently received a proposal from state archaeology department for its restoration. We are going through it. Since the monument is not listed under the ASI, we cannot do anything at the moment,” the officer said.

While government agencies are yet to take over the palace, visitors continue to pour at the palace. On Tuesday, a family from Tamil Nadu had come to visit the deserted palace. A US resident, who currently works in Dharamshala, had also come to see the palace after reading the recent New York Times article.  

On video sharing websites, the videos of people recording their ‘scary’ and ‘supernatural and spooky’ experiences at the palace during their visits are adding every month. There is one titled – Ghost found in Malcha Mahal. Another reads – Delhi’s most haunted palace. There are other videos of people daring their friends to spend a night in the stone palace.

The travel blogs too are filled with the mention of the palace as the most haunted in Delhi. A popular travel website describes the experience - no paranormal sightings have taken place at this spot, those who visit this place have often complained of an invisible shield of energy around the place.

Security guards at the Delhi Earth Station office say that most adrenaline junkies come to the palace after hearing such false stories.

Prem Kumar, a security guard says, “There is no ghost but let me tell you something. When the royal family was alive, they did not let anyone near the palace. Once they set the dogs on a forest guard who tried to enter the palace compound. Look at what has happened now. The Royals are gone. Their palace is free for all now. Let’s call this irony.”