One of the key facets of travel through Rajasthan is knowing that you can always expect the unexpected around the corner. The same occurred when some friends and I got together to unravel the huge mystery around Bhangarh, which as you already know, is supposed to be one of the world's most haunted places. We raced back, with cold sweat pouring down our backs, from the experience at the ruined fort, in the evening to get back tot he normalcy of the budget hotel we had checked into at Alwar. That night, we slept very little and spoke even less. The following morning, we were back to being our chirpy selves, avoiding any references to what we had seen or felt the previous day. Our way back to Delhi beckoned but we had a full day to plan the return. We decided to head out early, stop along the way to fill the car's fuel. It was at the station that we were informed of a place, scarier than Bhangarh. Without a word, we agreed to head to Ajabgarh in daylight and leave for Delhi before dusk.
The first view of the Ajabgarh Fort was all we needed to renew the shivers in our spines. The village, in shambles and seemingly empty, offered quite the setting for our light-hearted attempt at reviving the mood. Only the house right at the start of the hamlet, straddled across the state highway in two neat rows facing each other, seemed inhabited. There was a family event taking place here and upon asking we were informed that the family was trying to sell off the house and relocated to the nearest city. Apart from the warm and friendly family at the first gate, the rest of the houses seemed desolate and we spent most of time peaking in through cracks in the old wooden doors.
Our worries ceased as we witnessed the activity at the first house from a distance and sat and watched the bullock carts, tractors and buses come and go along the state highway. As the sun stood strong over our heads, I walked a little distance out of the village. I felt a sudden silent threat from behind me and swung around. There was no one there but in the distance, I saw something like a shadow swiftly move away from a window in one of the buildings. The sense of dread from the previous day returned with a vengeance. I turned my back to the window and pretended to look down at the ground and there, out of my sense of rising fear, my imagination starting seeing shapes in the stones scattered on the ground.
I was still staring at the stones and feeling the creepy distant eyes roaming on my back when I heard my fiends call out my name. I walked back to what the new fuss was about and saw them pointing to something. There was forgotten path between the houses an my friends and I decided that we would see where it led. And I am glad we did. It led us straight to what remains of a 14th century monument, the Raghunath Temple now stands abandoned. A long flight of steps took us to the main temple structure and though the gates had been locked for years and keys forgotten, it offered a great view all around. The sun was losing its strength by the time we reached the top and we realised it was best if we started the long journey back. We were met at the lane with a elder woman with a wristful of ominous looking red thread bands. She asked where we from and when e intended to return. She was not threatenign in any way but as she spoke to us, we could sense the abandoned village around us sudddenly stirring to life. Sounds of clanging pots and pans and heavy objects being moved was alarming. We had been so sure that the village as abandoned! We informed the lady that we were apologetic for having caused any discomfort to her or the other residents and that we were leaving right way. I don't think any of us stopped to look back at the village or the woman who had appeared from nowhere with a smile on her face. As we drove way, it was hard not to feel that the growing shadows of the houses clinging on to the car a little longer than they should have. I promised myself never to return.
P.S. - My friends and I have since parted ways. The road trip was in 2010 and I have been told that not much has changed since then. I still have not returned to Ajabgarh and wish you well if you choose to head that way.