Thursday, 30 October 2014

Trip to Sariska - 2nd stop - Bhangarh Fort

Bhangarh Fort - India's most haunted place

Since we were late for early morning Jungle Safari at Sariska National Park, we decided to take 2nd Jungle Safari which stats at 3pm. To spend that time, we decided to visit Bhangarh.

We reached Bhangarh around 11am in the morning.  While we were on the way to Bhangarh, the weather suddenly changed and it started raining. This has made the atmosphere very pleasant and when we reached the site of Bhangarh, it was still drizzling out there.

On the way to Bhangarh, traveling by Road side and witnessing the culture – Got absorbed in Nature.  LEARNING!
One thing I realized while traveling on those narrow roads from Sariska Tiger Reserve to Bhangarh  and watching the never ending Aravalli Mountain Range - each mountain has its own history. These mountains tell stories of themselves - these mountains have witnessed different kingdoms, these mountains have witnessed different clans fighting for pride, fighting for land, these mountains have witnessed the origin of colorful culture of Rajasthan, these mountains give us hint about life in ancient times – these mountains telling us no matter how much hardship come, but we should stay firm.  These mountains in Aravlli Range are one of the oldest mountains in the world. No wonder why this place has always attracted people from all over the world. 

While on the way, I also observed local people engaged in small activities like farming, arranging woods, selling tea-snacks, selling water,  and thus showing they are contend with their natural surroundings and resources. There was no hustle-bustle like a city, no mad rush, everything was just at peace.  Because of rain, the wind was quite chilly and it made the entire stretch so beautiful.  I admired Mother Nature for its sheer brilliance. My respect for Mother Nature has grown many folds after this trip.

We stopped at a restaurant for Tea-snacks and got to know this taste of Rajasthan. This is hot kachauri dipped in yumi kadi. The taste was really good. I wanted to have one more plate but resisted. Try this and it will definitely satisfy your taste buds.

Rajasthani people love the crispy snacks. We were got introduced to some of them while our 15 minute stay at this restaurant. 

Simplicity at its best

Where is Bhangarh Fort?
Bhangarh is a village in India that is famous for its historical ruins. It is in the Rajgarh municipality of the Alwar district in the state of Rajasthan. Bhangarh is at the edge of the Sariska Tiger Reserve.

The Bhangarh Fort is located on the border of the Sariska Reserve in the Aravali range of hills in Alwar district of Rajasthan. The fort is located 235 kilometres (146 mi) from Delhi." - Wikipedia

"Entry to Bhangarh is legally prohibited between sunset and sunrise. A signboard posted by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), which is a Government of India organization, specifies the instructions. "Entering the borders of Bhangarh before sunrise and after sunset is strictly prohibited. Legal action would be taken against anybody who does not follow these instructions". Some other rules are there according to which no one is allowed to graze their animals after sunset.

What I liked in Bhangarh?

While we visited and roamed the entire area, I realized that it was not a fort only; but it was a complete city being laid in ancient times.  When I entered from main gate, I didn’t get much clue about the what the construction is about, however when I reached inside and from there when I entered the main fort and looked from top, I realized it was a whole kingdom altogether. I checked the broken houses (from entry gate till main fort) and analyzed the pattern – all of them were quite common in construction (entrance, a room and kitchen).  Main Fort was being made in such a way so that one can have a bird eye view of the entire kingdom. There is a Lord Shiva Temple as well in main area which gives the hint that it was being made for people living in Royal Palace (or fort).  I also spotted a temple like gable which was being laid down on the peak of a nearby giant mountain. I believe this was a place from where soldiers used to track for any intruder or enemy attacks. Really, we can only wonder by thinking how these people made construction at such high peak on those days and how they used to deliver message from that high point to another point below in the kingdom.

Welcome to the Fort

Is it a temple or what? I just wonder, how people in ancient times have made this construction at such high point. I believe this gable give us hint that this construction must have been done to keep a vigil eye on the city

Entering to the main fort

I believe this temple in main fort area was built for the royal people living in the palace

Wondering how people in that time have constructed such magnificent work - from where they got the machines to cut the stone with such fine edges in ancient times?

Looking at the fort

View from Top

From top, we can get the idea how the concept of the city is being laid down here

Have I spotted any paranormal activity?
No. I haven't seen anything abnormal. Although the entire place have been maintained to be in its natural state, but yes it does give the idea of a ruined city.

What is the story behind Bhangarh and why it is called India’s most haunted place?
 “There are two legends narrated to the history of the fort city which is reported to be haunted and no one is allowed to remain the precincts of the fort at night as per a notice board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India at the entrance.

One version of the legend is that a sadhu named Baba Balanath lived within the fort area. It was his injunction that any houses built in the precincts of the fort should not be taller than his house and in case the shadow of any such house falling on his house would result in destruction of the fort town.

In another version, Singhiya, the wizard who was adept in black magic fell in love with Ratnavati, the princess of Bhangarh who was very beautiful and had suitors to marry her from many royal families of the country. One day while the princess, 18 years of age, went shopping with her friends and was buying Ittar (scent). The wizard saw this and replaced the scent with some potion in order to ensnare the princess. He offered the potion to her so that she took a liking for him and marry him. However, the princess saw through the wizard's trickery and when he offered her the bowl of potion, she threw it on a big boulder nearby and as a result the boulder started rolling down towards the wizard and crushed him. Before he died he cursed that Bhangarh would be destroyed soon and no one will be able to live within its precincts. Subsequent to the curse Bhangarh Fort was invaded by the Mughals from the north and the city was surrounded and sacked; 10,000 people lived in the fort city at that time. All the people in the fort including the princess were killed. The present state of the fort is attributed to the curse of the wizard and people believe the ghosts in the fort are that of the princess and the wizard. Since from that day at the night time there are some paranormal activities are said to take place, some people have reportedly died by these paranormal activities.” - Wikipedia

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve

It was October 14th when I got the warm invite from my office colleagues (Jitender & Vikram) to join them for a day trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve.  The trip was planned because next day (Oct 15th) we had an unlikely off from Office due to State Election in Gurgaon (Haryana).  Initially I was hesitant to join them because the tour was scheduled for next day itself and I haven’t met most of other people in the group except Jitender & Vikram.  However Jitender pushed hard and told me that I should join them.  Since there was off next day, I didn’t have much work at home and most important their invitation, I couldn’t say NO and I decided to join them for this memorable trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve.

We left office at 10.30pm on 14th October. We had 10 members in our Group. 9 members from Technology team and 10th one (me) from SEM. We had two cars and we settled as 5 members in each car. This was the first time I crossed Manesar Toll Plaza. Earlier I used to think about this road which takes us to Jaipur (and life in Jaipur/Rajasthan), but I never travelled on it beyond Manesar Toll.

Our first stop on the trip was Old Rao Dhaba (on Bhiwadi Jaipur Road National Highway 8) for dinner. Well, this place is highly recommended if you are feeling hungry and want to eat authentic north Indian cuisines. Food quality is very good, prices are nominal, service is good and ambience is also nice. Remember, TripAdvisor has 5 (stars) rating for this place and it certainly lived up to that expectation. We celebrated Jitender birthday (this was also one of the occasion) before starting the dinner. It was a good get-together and gradually I was getting over my inhibition which was there in the starting of the trip as I haven’t met 7 people before this trip. Someone rightly said “Food connects people” and I realized it is TRUE.

We traveled for the whole night and reached Alwar around 3.30am. On the way to Sariska Tiger Reserve, we spotted one board which was pointing towards a Resort/Hotel. It was completely dark out there in the absence of electricity or road lights. We were tired and looking for 2-3 hours stay before we commence our journey further. We decided to take two rooms for fresh-up.  We drove on bumpy pavement in that remote location at 4am in complete darkness with no sign of light (except car headlights), to reach at the hotel gate and guess what, we were told that all rooms are occupied. We tried another hotel nearby and got the same reply. Different suggestions were floating around of where to stay (some of the suggestions were quite unique), but it was fun as most of us jiggling on the situation we were in. We checked another hotel (which was next to the biggest lake I have ever seen), but again, no luck. At 4am, the rocky mountains and this lake were looking GIANT. We were afraid of the thought of boating there. Quite scary it was at that time. We took U-Turn in search of a place where we can stay for 2-3 hours. Luckily we found one and the location was just PICTURE PERFECT. The hotel was situated in a beautiful place. Important thing to mention here – while you are traveling in group, just keep motivating each other when stuck in this kind of situation and reach at your destination first. We have found one hotel; else we would have also reached at the Tiger Reserve. Here are the snaps of the hotel where we stayed till the 8am:

We checked out from Hotel at 8am and decided to visit that lake. We checked online and the name of the lake was Siliser Lake which is one of the main tourist attractions in the region. Google Reviews rate it as 4.5 stars and it certainly is the place to be at. Highly recommended. Here are the pics:

Siliser Lake

Atmosphere at this place simply GREAT

Haven't seen such big lake ever

Perfect place to have Lunch or Dinner. A highly recommended place to be at.

Sit and enjoy the nature at its best

The lake might seem quite, but from the side view, it looked very very wide

We reached Sariska Tiger Reserve at 9.30am. We got late because we were misguided by the locals that Jungle Safari goes on all the time of the day and we can reach there any time. But when we reached there late, officials told us that we missed the early morning safari and next safari will start at 3pm in afternoon. We missed the chance. Here is the tip: While you can check with the locals, but it is always better to call the authority and confirm about the timings.  Since we were late, we were being advised to visit Bhangarh which is 90km away from Sariska Tiger Reserve and we can easily come back on time. Bhangarh is a major tourist attraction in Rajasthan. We formed the agreement to visit Bhangarh. Will cover Bhangarh in next post.