The Haunted Fort
The Haunted Fort
Let's go to Bhangarh"
This was of course Lokesh who has acquired mastery on the subtle art of letting the cat among the pigeons.
There were varied reactions to his statement.
But let me first introduce our group.
We are a group of five freshly graduated new entrants to the unemployed army. So between completing graduation and pursuing further studies or employment, we have taken out a week for chilling off. That quest has led us Siska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.
And our group consists of:
Lokesh: leader of the pack and easily most intelligent among us.
Kartik: Muscleman of the group
Smriti: Beauty queen of the group
Pooja: tomboy of the group and last but not the least...
myself Neel! The group dumbo!
And all five of us are were relaxing in a hotel near the tiger reserve after scouting the whole day unsuccessfully to get a glimpse of the tiger.
It was then that Lokesh made this proposal.
Our reactions :
Kartik: ok let us go
Smriti: Are you mad?
"Bhangarh" Lokesh explained with infinite patience," is located approximately 20 kilometers from here. It is a 17-century old fort which now lies in ruins. But the USP of Bhangarh fort is that it is haunted"
Incredulity must have been evident from my face, for Lokesh sighed and took out a photograph.
"Look," he said," This is a photograph of Bhangarh fort. Even on looking at the photo, don't you get a sinister feeling? A negative vibe? Ok, don't believe me. Do you know that the archeological survey of India has forbidden anyone to enter Bhangarh fort between sunrise and sunset? Do you know that even the locals know about strange happenings here and so no villages have developed in the vicinity of Bhangarh fort?"
"But why Bhangarh is haunted?" I asked.
"It is an old story dear," Lokesh said," In the 17 century this fort was built by Man Singh, who was one of Akbar's nav ratnas, for his son Madho Singh. At that time this was quite a jolly place"
"Then what happened?" Smriti asked.
"Well, it is said that the princess of Bhangarh, princess Ratnavali was very beautiful. Through not as beautiful as Smriti here I am sure"
"Stop flirting Lokesh," Pooja said in a Stern voice.
"Oops! Ok coming back to the story, there was a dude called Singhiya who was something of a black magician. So this chap had a crush on Ratnavali. But the problem was that he was really ugly... through not as ugly as Neel here I suppose....ok ok I take back my words..so this man devised a diabolical and evil plan"
"Just like you do," I said.
Lokesh stared in disbelief at me for a second, then guffawed "ha! I deserved it. So coming back to the story, the magician prepared a love potion to make Ratnavali fall in love with him.
He knew that princess Ratnavali used to buy perfumes from a particular shop. So he mixed up the perfume bottle with a love potion. The idea was that the princess would fall in love with him the moment she applied the perfume. But the princess being very intelligent..just like Pooja here....she somehow understood his game and threw the perfume bottle on a nearby rock. What happened next was however really funny and horrific at the same time. The rock somehow imbibed the feeling of love for the magician and crushed him to death while trying to embrace him. However, while dying he cursed the princess, royalty, and people of Bhangarh that they will be destroyed...and they were soon after due to a battle with its neighbor Ajabgarh. And since then my friends, this place lies in ruins.
Bhangarh has got a reputation of being a haunted fort and receives it's share of tourists, of course during daytime "
"But" now his tone became conspiratorial" I plan to go at night"
"No way" both the girls said in unison as Lokesh winked at me.
"Ok. So you stay at the hotel. we boys will be going to an adventure of the lifetime" Lokesh decided on my and Kartik's behalf."So boys it is going to be a long night, let's go to our rooms. Exactly after one hour, I will come to call you"
So I went to my room and tried to sleep. However, sleep evaded me. Were we making a mistake?
We three were speeding towards Bhangarh in Lokesh's rented car. Lokesh was driving with a steely look of determination on his face.
"I do not believe in ghosts. I shall expose whatever scam is going on there"
I did not reply. As Bhangarh approached, my apprehension increased. I was kicking myself to let Lokesh dominate us in this way. I looked at Kartik who looked nonchalant. Was I the only one afraid?
Soon we were standing near the ruins. There was a notice by the archeological survey of India forbidding anyone to enter the fort premises after evening. Lokesh saluted mockingly at the notice and entered the fort.
The air suddenly started feeling chilly. The first thing that struck me was the eerie silence. Somehow the whole area seemed desolate... melancholic.
Suddenly I turned back. I was having a feeling since I entered the fort that we were being watched...and followed.
I grabbed Lokesh"Listen this is a bad idea. Let's go back."
Even Lokesh was shaken up but he was too much of an egoist to concede defeat.
"Don't be a child Neel. It's only the atmosphere getting to you. Where are the ghosts? Look!" Suddenly he pointed towards the entrance, "We have company" and we saw some villagers coming towards us.
Lokesh was now visibly relieved. He walked towards the villagers with a smile on his face."I am really glad to see you. Really we could do with some company this night"
One of the villagers chuckled, "We also crave for someone to talk to. After we died, nobody seems to want to talk to us"
This took a moment to sink in. Then Kartik screamed, pointing at the villager's legs. Then we noticed: the villagers were not walking, they were floating on air...
This time I took a lead. With a roar, I turned and ran towards the car. Every second felt like an eternity, I scrambled towards the car expecting every moment for some unknown entity to overcome me, and then, what?
But I managed to reach safely to the car. Lokesh and Kartik also came and we drove away like madmen.
"God, we escaped!" I gasped.
"Are you sure?" Lokesh asked in a strange voice, and as we looked at him he changed into the villager.
"T..t..this is not Lokesh" Kartik stammered.
And at this juncture, the villager's hands converted into claws and went for my throat...
and opened my eyes.
"What happened? Why are you screaming?"Pooja asked.
I looked at the anxious faces surrounding me: Pooja, Smriti, Kartik, Lokesh...and then I realized: I was in my hotel room! And the room was flooded with daylight. It was morning!
"What happened?" Kartik asked.
"I dreamt about going to Bhangarh at night. I was waiting for you to call and must have dozed off..."
Lokesh looked at me and guffawed. He was laughing so hard so he was unable to speak."So you really thought we were going there at night? O how gullible you are!"
And now others also were laughing uncontrollably. And for once I did not mind.