But what happens when terror meets travel? We're talking about a visit to a ghost town that is one of India's spookiest places. At the edge of the Sariska forest in Rajasthan lies the town of Bhangarh whose haunted status is attracting scores of tourists these days. Definitely day, mind you, since the town is out of bounds after dark. A signboard displayed prominently by the ASI warns visitors: "Entering the borders of Bhangarh after sunset is strictly prohibited".
Such is the town's reputation that even the Archeological Survey of India doesn't have an office here though government rules state that every historical site must have an office of the ASI. The nearest one is a kilometre away — enough distance between officials and the spooks.
The haunted ruins of Bhangarh are now expected to be a big tourist draw during the Commonwealth Games. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC)
has included Bhangarh in a tour package especially designed for the games. "We chose this ‘ghost city' to boost tourism to the area," says Manjit Singh, chairman and MD, RTDC. But he smiles and adds, "We, of course, don't promise any paranormal activity."
So how did the ghosts get here? The story goes that this sixteenth century town, 80 km from Alwar in eastern Rajasthan, was home to a tantrik (a magician well-versed in the occult) named Singhia. The tantrik fell desperately in love with the kingdom's beautiful princess, Rani Ratnawati. Knowing that he would never be allowed to go near her, Singhia decided to use his dark powers to seduce her. He spotted the princess's maid buying oil and cast a spell on the oil. If the spell worked, on touching the oil, the princes would surrender herself to him.