I have never been fond of ghost stories or horror films. I have an innate fear of the supernatural, that is only exacerbated by the slow buildups, jump scares and eerie music characterised by most ghost thrillers. Whether it’s about evil spirits taking over an innocent person’s body, or a vengeful ghost on a mission, I avoid ghost stories as much as possible. However, the one advantage of a horror film is that it eventually comes to an end. You can always turn the TV off, deal with a few sleepless nights, and then move on. But visiting a haunted place is a different story. You have to be completely immersed in the place, and fit your reality to the place itself. I know I would be thoroughly anxious and paranoid visiting places like these but if you’re a horror and ghost story junkie on the other hand, then here’s a comprehensive guide to the scariest places in the country that are definitely not on my bucket list.
Bhangarh: Located in Rajasthan, a few hours away from Delhi, Bhangarh is an abandoned city shrouded in myth and legend. Known as one of the most haunted places in India, Bhangarh was built during the Mughal era, by Madho Singh, the son of a Mughal general. As the story goes, there was a tantrik sage who fell in love with Ratnavati, the beautiful princess of the city. She had many suitors to choose from and rejected the sage without a second thought. Upset by his unrequited love, the sage cast a curse on the entire city, leading people to abandon it. The only places still safe to visit are the city's temples. This legend lives on and the city remains empty to this day, though it is still a popular site for brave tourists. Most are not encouraged to remain behind after sunset.
Taj Palace Hotel - When you think of a haunted house, rundown bungalows and dingy rooms are the first thing that come to mind. However, even the fanciest places can have a dark history. The iconic Taj Palace hotel located in Colaba, Mumbai was built by Jamsedji Tata in 1903 after he was denied entry into the Watsons Hotel, as it only served the British. While the Taj Palace hotel has seen many world famous guests from the Beatles to Barack and Michelle Obama and is the epitome of luxury and style, it’s one flaw is that the entrance faces away from the harbour. Legend has it that WA Chambers, the architect hired to complete the hotel, accidentally constructed the hotel back to front, and upon realising his mistake, jumped to his death from a 5th floor balcony of the hotel. Many guests and staff throughout the years claim to have seen his ghost wandering around the old wing of the hotel, lamenting his mistakes and sometimes even crying. Though he is said to be a harmless ghost, always remember to keep a lookout if you’re ever visiting the Taj Palace hotel.
Three Kings Church - A typical vacation in Goa consists of some sun, sand and sea but if ghost stories intrigue you then you must visit the three kings church in Cansaulim, South Goa. The story behind the legend is as old as time. There were once three kings who ruled over the church and its surrounding area but they grew power hungry and started fighting amongst each other, ultimately leading to their deaths. Their bodies were buried at the chapel itself and the locals believe that their spirits still hang about the property. Tourists who have visited the church in the evenings have felt this presence and though no one has ever been harmed, this is definitely a place I would stay clear of.
Dumas Beach - Located outside Surat in Gujarat, Dumas beach is no regular beach. While it's a fun spot to go to during the day, it is definitely taboo to visit after sunset. The beach is made up of black sand and is rumoured to be an old Hindu burial ground and is said to be haunted by all the spirits who could not make it to the other side. The black sand could also have been created by the ash from the burial ground mixing with the sand of the beach. A number of paranormal activities have been reported on the beach, and some tourists who ventured out at night, went missing and never made it back home. Locals claim to have witnessed white orbs moving around, and a man was once even found murdered near the shoreline, adding to the myth surrounding it. A genuinely depressing and spooky location, Dumas Beach might be the most horrific and haunted place on the list so far.
Agrasen Ki Baoli - While there are great monuments scattered around New Delhi, none are as spooky as Agrasen Ki Baoli, a famous step well and historical monument, characterised by narrow stairs leading up to a well that used to be filled with water but has now run dry. Rumour has it that tourists would sometimes walk down the stairs and feel a presence calling them into the water, tempting people to drown themselves. Other visitors hear footsteps behind them when walking towards the area. Reports of suicide also keep many visitors away, even though there’s no entry charge to visit. A fascinating place to visit, if paranormal activity intrigues you.
Though I don’t think I’ll ever visit any of these places personally, for fear of endless nightmares, for the courageous and thrill seeking people out there, these places are sure to make your hair stand on end!