This Friday the 13th, we resolved to be as dauntless as the Supernatural brothers. Reality had other things in mind, and given we didn’t have the toolkit – and bravery – required, we decided to do the next best thing. We put on the hat of ghost-hunters and prowled for paranormal activities, safely from our desks. From petulant poltergeists to harmless ghosts, spirited studios and more you couldn’t possibly make up – here’s our list of India’s spookiest places.
Read at your own risk, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
1. Bhangarh Fort, Alwar
A sadhu, Guru Balu Nath, lived on top of the hill where Raja Bhagwat Singh wanted to build a fort. The ascetic agreed to let go of the hill but on the condition that the fort would not cast a shadow on his hut. The years passed, and the king’s heir had renovation plans in mind. Whether he was unaware of the earlier agreement, or ignored it, we don’t know for sure, but we do know that he added columns. The additions cast a shadow, and the enraged sage cursed the entire fort and its surrounding areas for good measure.
The locals maintain that anybody who enters the fort at night will not make it out, to tell the story.
Supporting that claim, Bhangarh is now officially off-limits to tourists post 6 PM.
2. Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad
The studios are believed to be built on an erstwhile battleground, dating back to the Nizam Sultans of Hyderabad. Rumour has it that the spot is haunted by the dead soldiers…
If you’re planning to visit, you might want to steer clear of the hotels (supposedly the epicenter of the haunting) after-hours. Falling spotlights, mysterious injuries, and unexplained markings on mirrors are just some of the spooky events. If sources are to be believed, the spirits here harbor a penchant for ladies. Women on the sets have had their clothes torn off by an eerie force and locked inside a room for hours.
3. Fern Hill Palace Hotel, Ooty
Once the summer abode of the Wodeyars of Mysore, this palace is now said to be haunted.
During the shooting of Raaz, the film crew were stationed on the ground floor. Around midnight, they heard furniture being moved around on the floor above. The disgruntled guests headed to the reception, to straighten things out. Only to find out that the hotel did not have a first floor.
Fifty-one years ago, the port town of Dhanushkodi was hit by a terrifying cyclone that swallowed the town whole. A once bustling town was reduced to ruins.
Today, Dhanushkodi is a popular “dark tourism” destination. Although there aren’t any spirits (yet!) that haunt the town, the eeriness and the deafening silence has earned the place its title of the “ghost town”.
5. Writer’s Building, Kolkata
This one dates back to India’s freedom struggle. In 1930, the brutal Inspector General-Colonel, N.S. Simpson, was killed by three young freedom fighters. Albeit harmless, Simpson’s spirit has refused to leave the building. The workers at Writer’s Building insist that they often hear faint laughter and see the silhouette of a tall man walk the corridors at night.
6. A mansion near Residency Club, Pune
Ghosts are scary. Ghosts that look out of their windows and scream for help are scarier.
This murder-victim-turned-ghost story has become an urban legend in Pune. An elderly lady was murdered in cold blood at this mansion. Legend has it that, to this day, her spirit haunts the place. Punekars have admitted to hearing strange laughs and screams from the house, especially at night.
7. Charleville Mansion, Shimla
When British officer, Victor Bayley, rented a castle in Shimla, little did he know that he wasn’t the only resident. Soon after he moved in, he experienced poltergeist activities (think unscrewed light bulbs, damaged furniture, and cracked window panes) in one of the rooms. So, instead of doing the only sane thing and promptly fleeing the house, Bayley just locked the door and went about his life. When he entered the room, a few weeks later, it was destroyed. After Bayley, several other occupants of the house have also reported eerie happenings in the room. Today, the mansion is closed to visitors.
8. Brij Raj Bhavan Palace, Kota
Another harmless Englishman who overstayed his welcome, Major Burton, was killed during the first war of independence in 1857. His spirit though decided to stay on, and in style. Believed to reside in the Brij Raj Bhavan Palace in Kota, his spirit walks the corridors and occasionally, disciplines sleeping guards by slapping them.
9. Dow Hill, Darjeeling
A boys’ school, a chilly hill station, and an eternally foggy forest. The perfect setting for the paranormal. The area has witnessed several murders and accidents – all after sunset.
According to the security guards, shrill laughter and footsteps can be heard even when the school is shut for vacations. If that’s not spooky enough, locals also recount seeing a headless boy appear and disappear into the forest on several occasions.
10. Jatinga, Assam
Birds in Jatinga commit mass suicide by falling to the ground only on new moon days between 6.00 PM to 9.30 PM, during the months of September and October.
This strange (and insanely freaky) phenomenon has baffled ornithologists for years, who have failed to find a scientific explanation. So, if you’re interested in mysteries (or horror), you know where to go next.
11. Mukesh Mills, Mumbai
A stone’s throw away from the Arabian sea, Mukesh Mills was once a trading hub. But, when a disastrous firebroke out in 1980, it turned into an abandoned ruin overnight. Soon after, the film industry began shooting horror films here. But, as it turned out, the sets of these horror films were truly terrifying. Apparently, the spirits haunting the Mills have often warned the crew to leave the building by possessing the weak-hearted.
12. Dumas Beach, Surat
When the hot Gujarat sun sets, the spirits of Dumas beach (like all spirits, really) awaken. The beach that was once a cremation ground is now haunted by the spirits of its residents. If you dare to walk along this beach at night, be ready to hear distant screams and whispers.
13. GP Block, Meerut
If you’re walking around one of the many unoccupied houses of GP Block in Meerut and see four friends drinking coffee, walk faster. The area is, supposedly, haunted by the spirits (coffee-loving ones at that) of its earlier occupants. Locals have also witnessed a young girl in a red dress coming out of the house and disappearing into the crowd. The block is now deserted, save for the occasional ghost-hunter or two.