Bhangarh – what’s scary is not inside the fort
Okay, I have to rub my hands and warm up to start this post. I personally know people who had a good time here and to some extent I did too. But if you are here to get spooked, forget it. Given that I didn’t do any research or see in photos beforehand, I was surprised by the scale of the ruin. It is not just a fort, it is a city.
Coming to the scary part, if you are there on a busy weekend, what will scare you is the crowd, the narrow lane to the fort from the main road and the ogling, leching, catcalling youth. Also, the drive from Alwar is a horror story no matter which way you take – the toll road via Tehela will give you eight kms of washed out roads and the one via Ajabgarh and Pratapgarh will make your life hell for whole four hours. Yup, the roads are that bad. And, that’s just half the bad news. The only good thing that happens when you come from the Tahela side is that there is a waterbody below the hills that will delight the birders. We spotted a few pelicans and very aggressive cows.
Once you have landed at the fort, the real horror begins. Though a few few friends said that it happens all over the world, the amount of whistling, catcalling and harassment of women is astounding, especially, given the massive crowds and families around. Some of the abusers were travelling with families and women themselves. That’s the part of our culture of tolerance that we don’t talk about when we talk about national pride.
Anyway, the fort itself is a gigantic consolation. It is massive, majestic and very overwhelming at first sight. I just wished if I were there on a lonely weekday than a long weekend. Given the place is all about vibes, I may have been able to feel a thing or two if at all. But given the crowds that weekend, the share of spooky vibe per person was so minuscule that I hardly felt a thing.
Once you forget the story about the vibes, the structure itself is worth a couple of hours. There are layers of fortification walls, there are temples that have every inch of their surface carved and then there is the fort itself.
The fort looks like a rock nest that some giant bird built in the side of a hill. Once you have climbed to the top of the fort and can see both up and down, you can appreciate how formidable the structure is. Denuded rock peaks stare down at you and you can look down to see a whole medieval city that had no business there than to intimidate as the abode of Akbar’s right hand man.