Eerie, spooky and desolate: Haunted places in India
From Rajasthan’s Bhangarh fort to Delhi’s Agrasen Ki Baoli - a visit to these haunted places amid winter is a thrill that some like to seek
Shrouded in mystery, with legends passed down for centuries, believed to be possessed by spirits, and locals would tell you to avoid it, especially after dark. The spooky sagas of haunted places, steeped in tragic pasts are definitely scary enough to send a shiver down your spine.
Though Covid-19 provided more than enough scares. But for people still seeking an extra jolt of adrenaline, it’s the time of year to explore those haunted attractions. Come winters and the visits to haunted places increase because you never know what you might encounter during a brisk walk into these cold and dingy places. “Most spooky films have a winter setting and people can’t get enough of these places in the cold months. Every year, this time in winters, there is a considerable demand, almost a 15%, increase in the number of tourists searching and wanting to visit these places,” says Vineet Grover, a travel agent.
The thrill of visiting a haunted place can’t be expressed. Even though we are scared to step inside that eerie destination, it is our innate inquisitiveness and desire to explore the unknown that makes one visit a place rumoured to be haunted at least once.
“Human nature is such that it is always curious to know about the unknown. It is always on the go and wants to explore the paranormal side of the realm we live in. The strange, mysterious and mystic side of our mere existence,” explains Kanika Khosla, psychologist.
Unexplained and paranormal activities trigger the fight or flight response in individuals causing a sudden release of dopamine and adrenaline in the body which translates to thrill. This makes the experience all the more exciting leaving the individual wanting more and more of it. “And what better way to satiate this need than being physically present at a place which is said to be haunted,” adds Khosla.
Some of the popular haunted destinations to visit are Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan; Delhi Cantonment; Ramoji Film City, Andhra Pradesh; Shaniwar Wada, Pune; Dow Hill in Kurseong, Darjeeling and Three Kings Church, Goa.
When asked about it, Siddharth Maurya, entrepreneur and travel enthusiast, says, “This refreshingly green Northern Ridge, called the Kamla Nehru Ridge is a truly startling spot. You will see many individuals nearby in daytime, come night and this stretch is a scene of outright desolation. Tales from everything like spirits pursuing individuals to odd and abrupt appearances of bloodied spirits of the British troopers who died in India haunt this place.”
Touted to be one of the scariest places in India to visit, Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan is closed to visitors from sunset to sunrise, the time with the highest paranormal activity on the premises. “It is claimed that malevolent spirits exist, and that after sunset, people do hear noises and see spirits. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating place to visit. On my visit, the “no entry after dark” sign put up by the Archaeological Survey of India amplified the unsettling presence of a supernatural force, scary sounds coupled with heightened anxiety for me,” says travel enthusiast Anjali K Gupta.
For Grusha Khanna, a traveller, it is Bhuli Bhatiyari in Delhi that could run a shiver down your spine. “During winters I went to Bhuli Bhatiyari with my friends, we were chilling and roaming around the place and all of a sudden a shadow passed by my side and I thought it might be my imagination. Then again after 5 -10 minutes I heard some sound which my friends didn’t hear and then again, a shadow passed by our side. At that point I was so scared that I left that place.”
A haunted house that inspired the Bollywood film, Bhool Bhulaiya, is Alummoottil meda, located in Alappuzha district is the most haunted place for Shruti Khandare, model and influencer. “Legend has it that that the paterfamilias of the mansion called “Alummoottil Channan” and his maid were brutally murdered years ago and their spirits still haunt these places. I have visited it and an eerie silence envelopes the place thus making it charmingly scary.”
Forts on full moon nights are scary as it is and adding to the hysteria is Shaniwarwada Fort in Pune, a historical delight in addition to being one of the ghostly places in India. “The heart-wrenching sobs of Narayan Rao, the young prince, are still heard by those who stay close-by, especially on full moon evenings. Visiting the Wada on no moon evenings is also a no-go. On my visit to the fort, we made our way back home before sunset,” says Rayansh Thakur, athlete and a solo traveller.
Delhi Cantonment may seem serene and lush green in the day, but it’s more desolate parts are seemingly haunted by many spirits. “There have been stories of a woman asking for a ride from people passing by in vehicles, even chasing them and also catching up with the vehicle, no matter how fast the vehicle is. Once traveling on this route, I could see a woman clad in white saree in the distance but fortunately, we took the other turn,” says Juhi Kharbanda, a travel enthusiast.
Sanjay Van, located near the Vasant Kunj and Mehrauli areas of New Delhi, is a famous city forest area where people go for morning walks, cycling, and bird watching. “Children’s cries, feeling someone’s presence around, and even seeing a female figure walking nearby before vanishing from view, Sanjay Van is a big no-no after dark. I remember hearing someone crying and it was very unsettling,” opines Shivani Matta, a marketing executive.
Popular for its architecture, Agrasen ki Baoli is another such place, “On my visit, I felt something invisible followed me and the faster I ran, the quicker it chased, I ran for my life,” says Charu Chellani, travel enthusiast.
Though not to scare you, some other notable mentions:
Ramoji Film City, Andhra Pradesh
A film shooting complex, one of the largest in India, Ramoji Film city is said to be home to various spirits. Said to be built on a battlefield, it is touted to be surrounded by spirits of dead soldiers. From marks on mirrors to crew members falling in unexplained circumstances and food scattered on the floor are some of the occurences.
Dumas Beach, Gujarat
Once a burial ground, Dumas, a black-sand beach is the scariest beach in Gujarat. People have heard haunted sounds including shrieks and whispers coming out of this place. “The nearby dogs are said to bark throughout the night, sensing a paranormal presence,” adds Hemant Sharma, a HR executive.
Three Kings Church, Goa
Haunted by spirits of kings who entered into a battle here, the Three King Church in Goa is a haunted destination. Folklore suggests that both the kings were killed by a rival who wanted to rule the kingdom himself. Soon enough, the perpetrator poisoned himself in the wake of public outrage, and the church is haunted by the spirit of these kings. “Locals report hearing noises and screams from this abandoned church as well as experiencing a strange ominous presence around the church too,” says Dolly Prajesh, a marketing executive who visited in 2015.