The Wild & The Haunted

Discussion in 'Travelogues' started by Vargis Khan, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Day 1 - Delhi To Bhangarh To ThanaGhazi

    A trip to Bhangarh and Sariska had been on plans for a while but never did materialise. With Shoaib's wedding coming up, he urged that we take a road trip that would be last as a Bachelor.

    We could not afford to take leaves and be away from work and hence Bhangarg and Sariska were decided which could be well covered over a weekend from Delhi. Initially a trip planned for 6, Salam and Sunny dropped out so it now was just me, Gunjit, Yatharth and Shoaib on my Royal Enfield and Sunny's CBZ.

    We started from Gurgaon at 5.30 in the morning towards Dharuhera from where we were to take a left towards Alwar. After crossing Dharuhera, we stopped at a Dhaba for Breakfast and I asked the Dhaba owner about the road to Alwar. He told us that we missed the turn about 10 mins ago and would now have to backtrack about 2 kms.

  2. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    After a quick breakfast that consisted of tea and aaloo ka paranthas, we came back a couple of kilometres to Dharuhera main market and from here turned towards Alwar.

    Road from Dharuhera to Alwar is super smooth and with almost no traffic in early morning hours, the ride was a bliss with a few butt breaks in between.

    Clutch wire of my Enfield did not feel right and i knew that it could snap any moment so i kept my eye open for a mechanic's shop on the highway but unfortunately did not find one that was open yet.

    Somewhere on the highway, we stopped at a puncture repair shop to get the air pressure in the tyres checked. The guy checked the pressure in the rear wheel of my Enfield and, much to my surprise, asked,

    "Kitni sawari hai?"
    "Sawari ke hisaab se hawa bharte ho kya?" I asked.
    "Haan" He replied innocently.
    "Abhi kitna hai?"
    "35 kar do, utna kaafi rahega"

    We reached Alwar around 9 in the morning and from here the road towards Sariska was a mix of good and bad patches. Sun had started to come up by now and it got way hot that we expected it to be in the month of March. Riding on a bad road with temperature shooting up like crazy proved to be quite a pain.

    My fear about the clutch wire came true shortly when it snapped shortly after crossing Alwar. Luckily, I had to ride with a snapped clutch wire only for a few hundred metres. We came across a mechanic's shop and stopped to get it fixed.

  3. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Ride continued and by 10.30 AM, we had reached Sariska Tiger Sanctuary.

    The Sariska Tiger Reserve, in 1978, was given the status of a tiger reserve making it a part of India's Project Tiger scheme. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. This area was a hunting preserve of the erstwhile Alwar state and it was declared a wildlife reserve in 1955. The present area of the park is 866 kmĀ². The park is situated 107 km from Jaipur and 200 km from Delhi.

    The best and the most attractive feature of the Sariska Tiger Reserve has always been its Bengal Tigers. This is the first ever Tiger Reserve in the world where the relocation of tigers has been done successfully, makes it one of a kind. The best part of the relocation is that these tigers adapted the place very quickly which is resulting in the growth of their population.

    Apart from the Bengali Tiger, Sariska Tiger Reserve includes many wild-lives like leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, golden jackal, chital, sambhar, nilgai, chinkara, four-horned antelope 'chousingha' wild boar, hare, hanuman langur, Rhesus monkeys, and plenty of bird species and reptiles. Birds include peafowl, grey partridge, bush quail, sand grouse, tree pie, golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle and the Great Indian Horned Owl.

    Our plan was to visit Sariska today, stay at a hotel here for the night, visit Bhangarh fort the next day and then return to Delhi. We parked our bikes at the gate and i walked to the gate to enquire about a jungle Safari. Charged were 350 / head if we were to take a canter but the canter would only go when a total of 20 people are on it. None of us wanted to be seated in a canter so i enquired about a Gypsy. Charges for that were 1800 for Gypsy, 250 for guide and 250 / head as entrance fee. I asked the lady at the counter to give us a Gypsy but was informed that the timings for the safari are either at 7 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon. I looked at my watch. It was only 11 am so we had a full 3 hrs to kill before we could enter the reserve.

    We decided to check into a hotel meanwhile, freshen up and then return at 2. I had not done any research about our staying options at Sariska so We enquired a few people at the sanctuary about a nearby hotel and what they told us came as a shock.

    There are only 2 hotels at Sariska.

    First one is the Sariska Palace hotel which in fact is the 17th-century Kankwadi fort, originally built by Jai Singh II. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb briefly imprisoned his brother Dara Shikoh here, in the struggle for succession of the throne. Now this palace is being used as a hotel and is located right outside the gate of Tiger Reserve.

    Second one is Hotel Tiger's Den which is maintained and run by RTDC and this one is also right outside the gate of Tiger Reserve.

    Apart from these 2, there are no hotels nearby and we would have to return to Alwar if we dont want to stay in either of these 2 hotels.

    The locals also warned us that the charges of both these hotels are sky high. The charge of the Sariska Palace is a minimum of Rs. 5000 for a room of two which would become 6 after they include Tax and other such kind of bullshit charges. This was quite obvious considering that its actually a palace so we decided to try our luck at RTDC, thinking that they might consider dropping the charges since its actually a government run hotel. We were soon proved wrong.

    Gunjit and I decided to check out the RTDC hotel while Shoaib and Yatharth decided to go further and see if they can find an accomodation at any of the nearby villages.

    Charge at RTDC was a minimum of Rs. 2900 which would become 3500 after including tax and god knows what. Since we were out of options, we checked out the rooms and i can swear that i have stayed in better hotel rooms for Rs. 300 a night.

    I called Shoaib to ask if he found any other hotel or if we were going to pay Rs. 7000 for 2 crappy hotel rooms. He had no luck finding a hotel but found a Dharamshala in Thanagazi, a village located about 7 kms from Sariska towards Bhangah, where we could stay for the night for a charge of merely Rs. 75 / person.

    Without a 2nd thought in our heads, we got out of the RTDC hotel and headed towards ThanaGhazi. It was a dharamshala run by Jain Samaj.. Even though it was closed, Shoaib found the caretaker's phone # written on a board near the gate. He called him and learnt that the caretaker was also a primary school teacher and teaches in a a school in a nearby village. He will be coming back at 4 pm and that is when he could lent us a room. This fitted in our plans perfectly because we were anyways going to be in the reserve till 6 pm.

    We were all pretty tired by now, not because we had been riding motorcycles since morning but because it was getting crazy hot. While sitting at the tea shop, Shoaib suggested that we go to Bhangarh today and visit Sariska tomorromow morning. This made sense because Bhangarh is about 40 kms from Sariska so rather than sitting at the tea shop here, waiting for the watch to show 2 PM, we could visit Bhangarh now, come back, spend night at Thanaghazi, visit Sariska in the morning and be on our way back from here.

    We started the ride again to Bhangarh and came across the worst patch of the road. As a matter of fact, it could hardly be called a road. At some places, there was in fact no road at all.

  4. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    We reached Bhangarh by 2 PM and it was time to see the famous haunted ruins that i have heard so much about.

    According to legend, the city of Bhangarh was cursed by the Guru Balu Nath. He had sanctioned the construction of the town on one condition, "The moment the shadows of your palaces touch me, the city shall be no more!" When a descendant prince raised the palace to a height that cast a shadow on Balu Nath's forbidden retreat, he cursed the town. Balu Nath is said to be buried there to this day in a small samadhi.

    There exists another myth. This is the legend of the Princess of Bhangarh, Ratnavati. She is believed to be the jewel of Rajasthan. On her eighteenth birthday she began to get offers of marriage from other regions (i.e. nobility). In the area lived a tantrik, a magician well versed in the occult, called Singhia, who was in love with the princess but knew that the match was impossible. One day Singhia saw the princess's maid in the market, he used his black magic on the oil she was purchasing so that upon touching it the princess would surrender herself to him. The princess, however, seeing the tantric enchanting the oil, foiled his plan by pouring it on the ground. As the oil struck the ground it turned into a boulder, which crushed Singhia. Dying, the tantrik cursed the palace with the death of all who dwelt in it. The next year there was a battle between Bhangarh and Ajabgarh in which Princess Ratnavati perished. Legends says that there are ghosts in Bhangarh and that is why entry is prohibited for tourists in the fort after sunset and before sunrise. The locals believe that the princess Ratnavati has taken birth somewhere else and that the fort and the empire of Bhangarh is waiting for her return to put an end to the curse.

    This place is listed among India's top 10 most haunted places. Such is the fear of this place that even the office of Archaeological Survey of India is located about a mile from here. In fact, this is the only historical monument without an ASI office next to it.

    Disappointingly though, we witnessed no paranormal activities. Only thing we found here were remains of an ancient city, few tourists like us, annoying local kids trying to sell water and hoards of Monkeys and Langoors.

    Hanuman Temple right at the gate of Bhangarh, to help keeping the evil spirits inside.










  5. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

  6. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    We spent a few hours roaming around in Bhangarh and got out at 5 PM, about the time that the fort closes, only to find that a rear flat tyre on my Enfield. Got it fixed at a nearby village and were on our way back to Thanaghazi.





    It was dark by the time we reached ThanaGhazi. While we waited at the same tea shop we were earlier sitting at, Shoaib went to talk to the caretaker of Dharamshala. He called us back to let us know that we got a little late and the rooms were all occupied now. So here we were again, sitting at a tea shop without a place to spend night in. While sipping tea, when asked by Gunjit, the owner told us that his tea shop remains open all night and both Gunjit and I smiled upon hearing this because in our hearts we both knew that in all probabilities, we were going to be spending this night sitting there.

    Luck favored us again and Shoaib returned with news that he was able to manage a room in Dharamshala for Rs. 300. It seems that the caretaker was only giving giving us a hard time to charge us a little extra than what he quoted earlier but finally agreed to the same amount, with a very clear instruction that no liquor was allowed inside Dharamshala.

    We checked into the room at Dharamshala. It was a large enough room with 3 single beds joined together so there was enough space for 4 guys to sleep. We freshened up and got out to have dinner at a nearby Dhaba. The caretaker again instructed us that he will be closing the Dharamshala gate sharp at 9 Pm irrespective of the fact that whether we are back or not. We checked our watches. It was 8 pm so we had ample time to go and feast.

    With our bellies full, we returned by 9 and while the other 3 went up on the Dharamshala roof to chit chat, i called it a day and crawled under the blanket.
  7. Ashima

    Ashima New Member

    I always wanted to visit Bhangarh
  8. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Day 2 - ThanaGhazi To Sariska To Delhi

    For the first time in my life, i was woken up with a kick, and that too in my face. I got up and found Shoaib sleeping next to me with his head on the other side and feet towards my head. So it was him who kicked me at 2 in the night and ruined my sleep.

    No matter how hard i tried, i could not go back to sleep after that. We had instructed the caretaker to wake us up early morning and much to our surprises, he was at our door knocking at 4 am and kept coming back after every 15 mins as if he was very eager to see us heading out of Dharamshala. I wondered why only to find out later that he had to close Dharamshala at 6 in the morning and head to the school to do his other job of teaching.

    We checked out at 5 AM, went to the same tea shop, had our morning tea and were at Sariska gate by 6 am.

    After hiring a Gypsy, a guide and getting our entrance passes, it was time to start the much awaited Jungle Safari.



  9. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    The Canter that takes 20 people for a tour inside.

  10. Vargis Khan

    Vargis Khan Administrator Staff Member

    Sariska Palace Hotel


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