Bhangarh Fort and Jungle Safari while staying at Sariska during a quick weekend break from Delhi
Sariska - A gem hidden from the metropolitan Delhi. Despite its proximity to Delhi, NCR and Jaipur, Sariska is not frequented as often as some of the other places. Sariska - with its National Park, nice places to stay, close proximity to Delhi with good roads and lots of things to do nearby is a perfect weekend destination. 

We decided to drive down on a Friday evening end of February 2020, from South Delhi and despite the traffic we had crossed Manesar by 7 pm. A short break at Haldirams on the way (you also get black coffee from a CCD machine installed here), we headed towards Sariska. The Delhi - Jaipur highway is a good highway and we were soon on the road leading towards our hotel (It is best to take the main road rather than the bylanes that might be prompted by the GPS). Though its a double lane, the road is in good condition and we moved quickly towards our destination. 

We decided to simply unwind by lying down on the freshly cut grass on the lawns of the property. The air was still quite cold and we ordered for some delicious barbecue snacks. 

Next morning, couple of the group members decided to relax at the hotel while the rest of decided  drive us down to Bhangarh - one of India's most haunted place.  The hotel manager helped us get a local cab besides one of the cars we decided to drive ourselves. We followed the local driver who took us through a shorter route but the roads were in terrible condition at certain places :( - we made a mental note to not take the route on our way back. 

Bhangarh is roughly 65 km from the property depending on the route you take and we reached there in 90 odd minutes. A short walk after parking the car and we entered the premises, not knowing what to expect. With so many tales about the place, it was natural for us to feel sceptical and we were taken around the place by our driver who seemed to know a lot about the place. As you walk around, you cannot help paying heed to the stories that make this place haunted. Practically none of the houses have a roof and the ruins itself makes you feel uncomfortable. In fact, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has banned entry to this place after dark, 

History of the place
The town itself was founded during the rule of Bhagwant Das and gifted to his son, Madho Singh. Legend has it that city was cursed by a hermit named Guru Balak Nath. The place, it seems was once his meditation area and when the King requested him to have a fort built there, he agreed on the condition that the shadow of the fort should never touch him. However, thats exactly what happened and the village and the place was cursed. 

Yet another legend has it that the Princess of Bhangarh - Ratnavati was extremely beautiful. As she came of age, there were lot of suitors from different places. A local Tantrik called Singhia also fell for the princess but knew that she would never marry him. Using his tantrik powers, he tried to lure her through the oil to be used by the Princess. However, the Princess herself a devout lady, saw through his game and poured the oil on the ground - causing a boulder to emerge from that place that eventually crushed the tantrik. The curse of the tantrik is supposed to have caused the ruins. 

While it is easy to let your imagination run wild while listening to such tales, the crowd at the place allays any fear - at least during the day time and one might even laugh about the various stories. The local guard told us about leopards coming in at night near the ruins. While he claimed that he is not scared of the darkness as he guards the entrance at night, the other locals mentioned about eerie sounds that are often heard at night. 

Once the place is shut, all the locals retire to the village close by-  Ajabgarh. 

On our return, we took to the national highway instead of the short cut that we had taken earlier.  Though a tad longer, the roads were excellent and we made it back under 2 hours. 

All in all, it is definitely worth a visit with your family/friends and we had a good time regaling each other of various spooky tales at night while we sat around a small bonfire at the hotel. 

Next morning, we went for the safari. It was nippy and our guide was Ajay. The hotel had organised the booking and we reached the gate in 30 minutes. The formalities finished quickly and we were aboard our jeep. We were told that one route leads to the famous Hanuman temple and is open through the year. Ajay helped us in understanding various calls of the animals and after following multiple calls from monkeys, he was sure that a cat was on the move. The art of following the various sounds of the birds and monkey and other animals to let others know of the lurking danger close by, was quite amazing and at one point, when he ordered his driver to stop the vehicle and shut off the engine, while other vehicles behind us moved ahead, he signalled us to stay quiet. Even before we could react, a peacock leapt out of nowhere with a shriek and even while we were gathering our wits, Ajay signalled us to look ahead - a leopard confidently crossing our path; stops, looks at us, moves on....... all of this in couple of seconds..... We waited for few seconds and saw the leopard sliding past the trees, before the driver started the vehicle and moved on.

All in all, our trip to Sariska was very fruitful and we left for Delhi on Sunday afternoon. A pit stop for coffee at the newly opened Food Street (though you have to take a U turn from under the flyover on the national highway as it is on the other side) and we were soon headed back. We were home before 7 pm as there was hardly any crowd on the Gurgaon Delhi stretch, being a Sunday. 


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