Will you travel for ghosts?
The authors of a book that follows the journey of a paranormal investigator, turn guides for this Bharat bhoot darshan
Paranormal investigator Jay Alani and horror story writer Neil D’Silva are out with the book, Haunted. Having investigated over 60 locations across the country, Alani believes there’s a lot beyond the realm of human understanding that leads to what we perceive as spooky phenomena. “Unfortunately, reel life has clouded our perception of what exists in real life. Ghosts don’t always wear white and roam in the dark. There’s usually a sensitive or traumatic history associated with a haunting, and I try to understand and solve the reason for the irregular sights and sounds.” The two say they fear, not spirits but anti social elements who often roam such locations, looking to cause harm.
Because travel should always be about an adventure, we got the pair to suggest five locations that top the spooky charts.
Lambi Dehar Mines, Uttarakhand
In 1996, a calamity sealed the mines while in operation, leaving 20,000 workers trapped inside. Today, locals make claims of hearing cries of the hapless miners, leaving most wary of buying property next to the mines. Adding to this, an older legend talks of an Englishman who discovered this limestone-rich area and ordered an excavation, which left an old woman homeless. Believed to be a salt witch, her curse is fabled to still loom.
Alani was called to investigate a plot that could not be sold. Inside, he discovered dead cows, bones and an abnormally large wolf who persistently followed him at night making sure he left the area. He says he heard a woman’s voice telling him to leave.
Closest hill station: Mussoorie
Getting there: Half-hour drive from Mussoorie
Must do: From Mussoorie, trek to the lesser-known Sisters Bazaar for an aloo paratha breakfast. Visit the Cambridge Book Depot on Mall Road on a Saturday afternoon to get a book signed by Ruskin Bond
Widely known as the black magic capital of the world, many here claim to have knowledge in the dark arts and like to use their powers to heal people. The locals believe they are blessed by goddess Kamakhya, whose temple is also a major tourist attraction. Alani investigated a group of black magic practitioners, using their powers for evil means, believed to live in hiding with locals having no clue of their existence.
Closest city: Guwahati
Getting there: Fly to Guwahati and hire a taxi to Mayong Must do: Travel further up from Guwahati by car or train to Ziro Valley, a UNESCO World
Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan
On the periphery of Sariska Tiger Reserve, apart from its haunted legends, the Bhangarh Fort also boasts of a beautiful landscape. Locals tell the tale of a tantrik named Singhia, who was besotted by Princess Ratnavati and employed devious means to win her affections. This backfired and led to him getting crushed under a boulder. In his last moments, he cursed the fort, and most of the inhabitants perished soon after in a natural calamity.
Alani chose to defy the Archaeological Survey of India’s warnings and spent a night here. He witnessed a black magic ritual take place in a room which appeared unoccupied to the human eye.
Closest city: Jaipur
Getting there: Two-and-a-half-hour drive from Jaipur
Best time to visit: October-March.
Must do: Go tiger spotting at Sariska. Safaris start at 6.30 am
For reasons unknown, this abandoned village on the outskirts of Jaisalmer was deserted overnight by its inhabitants in the early 19th century. All homes are intact, but their roofs seem to have vanished. According to folklore, a visiting mystic cursed the area when his advances were rejected by a local woman.
A visit in 2015 saw Alani driving with a friend at night when they came across a boy who was looking for his parents. When they arrived in Kuldhara, he told them tales of his parents being there that very morning, pointing to half eaten food and belongings that looked recently abandoned. Alani says he had an eerie feeling of being watched the entire time.
Closest city: Jaisalmer
Getting there: Hour-long drive from Jaisalmer
Best time to visit:
Must do: Book a luxury camp in the desert. The Serai Jaisalmer offers decadent tents, cashmere blankets, traditional dhurries, private terraces and an Indian step well-styled pool
- Paranormal travel etiquette
- Be alert at all times, and don’t get carried away.
- Common sense is key.
- Respect the surroundings.
- When addressing the unknown, speak out. Show that you mean no harm, and leave immediately
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