Neighbours swear that these properties take on a new dimension after sunset. Sunday MiD DAY explores the unknown, the unexplained in the city's twilight zones
There are places in our city that could inspire the likes of the Ramsey brothers and Ram Gopal Varma, whose names are synonymous with celluloid mystique and horror. Stepping into the twilight zone, Sunday MiD DAY investigates the phenomena of the supernatural, which allegedly exists in the heart of this concrete jungle we call home. Apparently, we are not alone.
With no intention to spread superstition, we provide our list of 12 of Mumbai's Most Haunted.
Over 16 years, a spacious, uninhabited bungalow, in the bylanes of JVPD scheme and in the neighbourhood of many Bollywood stars including the Big B, is being gradually reclaimed by the elements of nature. An array of imported cars gathering dust in its compound, a mass of vegetation and thick undergrowth now cover the prime property worth crores.
Neighbours swear that the property takes on a new dimension after sunset. The chirping of birds, the only residents of the bungalow, reach a crescendo and what follows is an abrupt silence and the presence of an eerie energy.
Neighbours further claim that the owners of the bungalow, which is now under government custody, apparently vanished into thin air after they were accused of pilfering money from a public limited company they had floated.
Numerous water wells of Mahim which never run dry, are not only a Mecca for the water tanker operators, but also a source of forbidden mysteries.
With water tankers parked on the either side of a lane, right behind the Paradise cinema, lies a building called Ram Sakit and in its compound is a sealed well, supposed to possess the spirit of old lady Sulochana who met her watery grave on the very spot, over 20 years ago. "I knew the lady, who was in her fifties and hailed from a Maharashtrian family. It was around 10 am when she stepped out to wash her clothes and slipped into the well and died," claims an old resident adding that the entire neighbourhood believes she still appears during Amavasya and vanishes in the morning.
The belief is said to be so strong that a person called Richard, who claims to be the landlord, carries out exorcisms of laying flowers on the well (see pix) everyday, to mollify the spirit, which is said to not be malicious in nature.
In less than a kilometer radius of the Mahim railway station, lies the dreaded Nasserwanj Wadi, where no local likes to venture after midnight. "Don't venture inside or you will get possessed. Don't expect any one from the area to come and help you," warned a group of ladies standing near the gate as this reporter approached the wadi (old settlement) compound.
Folklore has it that the property once belonged to a Parsi gentleman called Nasser, who was brutally burnt in a cabin close to a well inside the compound. "The gruesome murder was committed around 16 years ago, but the Parsi landlord still takes his daily stroll over here after midnight, keeping a watch on his property. He is known to torment anyone who crosses his path," alleged Francis, a resident.
Francis confessed that moving out of his house was a total taboo for him and his family and they always kept a crucifix and slept with a light on. "More than seven people have lost their lives here, within a span of one year after the Parsi landlord died, so we concealed the well under a pile of rubble. But this has not really helped," he alleged.
Eight months ago, in a scene right out of Omen, a huge, black dog appeared out of nowhere and made the second floor corridor of a building in Santa Cruz (W), his permanent home. His uncanny presence coincides with the death of a lady, simply known as "second floor ki bhabi", who committed suicide after a tiff with her husband.
The dog simply doesn't budge from his place; he just sits there quietly. But every night, he lets out a series of low frequency howls and a veiled lady appears and strolls in the corridor. Next, the silence is broken as the building lift mysteriously comes to a standstill on the floor, as if on command, casting ghastly shadows from its tube light.
"The veiled lady never harms anyone, but has all the neighbours scared to death and they refuse to even speak out her real name. You just have to be in the building at midnight to feel her presence," alleged 23-year-old Nadeem Sheikh, a local resident.
A famous South Bombay hotel is supposed to have a friendly ghost in the form of its original architect. Folklore has it that the Frenchman, who created the blueprints, went off on a trip to his country in 1903.
On his return, he was stunned to find that the hotel frontage had been made in the reverse direction, and committed suicide. His ghost is still believed to manifest in the old wing, but has never bothered anyone.
Close to the Pawan Hans quarters, near the Juhu aerodrome is a century old peepal tree, which residents claim is the home to a 20-year-old girl called Salma who poured kerosene and set herself ablaze for no apparent reason in 1989.
Her presence was so strongly felt that a resident called Anthony D'Souza, a devout Catholic, built a Hanuman mandir to protect residents from harm after he was apparently guided to do so in a dream. "On special nights, the girl can still be seen running, with her clothes still on fire and disappears into the tree," claimed Mehboob Sheikh, a local resident.
In the backyard of SNDT, Girls College, Juhu are a few dilapidated structures, once used as staff toilets by the gardeners and other menial staff workers. Residents of the neighbouring building swear that post 1.30 am, sounds of a teacher thrashing her students can be heard clearly.
"First the lessons start, and the teacher can be heard reciting mathematical tables, invariably followed by thrashing sounds and the wails of children. It's been practically heard by everyone in our building and goes on till the wee hours of the morning," alleged Riyaz Ansari, a local resident.
"Once, out of curiosity, we formed a group of 10 boys to investigate the phenomena, but found only an eerie emptiness. By the time we reached back home, the cries from the structure had restarted and no one has ever dared to venture out there again," added Riyaz.
With mangroves on either side, a narrow strip of road, which leads to Marve and Madh Island is notorious for many automobile accidents. It's said that a lady in full bridal attire, seen especially on full moon nights, distracts the drivers, which leads to the mishaps. Dozens of uncharacteristic sightings have been reported, not only by locals, but by staff of beachfront hotels who return from late night shifts.
The trick, they say, is to not look directly in to the mesmerising eyes of the beautiful lady and to just ignore her. Legend has it that an unknown bride was brutally murdered on her wedding night and her body dumped in the isolated mangroves over 25 years ago. The spirit is apparently still on the lookout for the culprits.
In the dead of the night, it requires sheer guts to cross the dimly-lit Aarey Road, which connects Goregaon to Powai. Danger lurks not only from the leopards who come down from the National Park to feed on easy prey, but also from the paranormal.
The spirits, which seldom attack the locals, are known to target only outsiders, especially rickshaw drivers who would rather take a longer route to reach their destination than risk this terrain. A strange old man in white kurta pajama is known to hire a rickshaw. Within a span of 15 minutes, the man disappears into thin air, leaving the driver under a strange state of hynopsis.
Said one driver who was 'struck' by the spirit, "I felt as if I was surrounded by a flowing water body and was helpless. Covered in perspiration, I was vaguely aware of being approached by another man, who slapped me to get me to my senses."
In the heart of IC colony, Borivali is an open garden plot so dreaded that no child has played here for the last 30 years. Old residents claimed that a gardener committed suicide here after fearing he would lose his job when the property changed hands. Said to be so possessive of the land, the gardener allegedly targets any child playing on the property, which is now covered in undergrowth.
The mango groves surrounding the LIC colony at Borivali add a strange mystique to the quiet area. But it is the tall water tower, surrounded by huge boulders, known as the 'reservoir', which emits a creepy energy. Residents make it a point to never go near there alone. Those who have, complain of giddiness and vomiting, beyond the spectrum of medical science, that vanished within a week.
Moving across the newly completed Jogeshwari Link Road stands a row of pink buildings, said to possess the spirit of an airhostess who was allegedly murdered in her second floor flat. Residents say that soon after her death, the company flat was allotted to another airhostess, who encountered a weeping lady on the terrace one day.
On enquiry, the sobbing lady stated that she was unable to go home, as the flat she was residing in had been occupied by someone else. When asked for details, she quietly pointed her finger at the same flat where the new airhostess resided, before vanishing in to thin air.
Ghosts or not, all these 12 places are said to have an unexplained energy... believe it or not if you will, but fiction overrides fact in these Mumbai 'haunts'.