India’s Most Haunted Places- Gagron, Rajasthan

Forts of India
The haunted fort of Gagron

Planning to visit India? One of the most interesting  and haunted places to visit in November this year is the unknown destination of Gagron in Rajasthan.You can also visit it during December or January and soak in the amazing experience of the haunted fort of Gagron.

How to reach Gagron?

Well, this amazing place in India is located south of Ranthambore, the famous tiger sanctuary of India. You will have to take a cab from Ranthambore or Sawai Madhopur to reach the district headquarters of Jhalawar. Gagron is just a short distance from Jhalawar. Alternately, if you are in Udaipur while reading this, then book a cab from there to reach Gagron. This is one of the many places that you can visit in December with your family.

So, what happened in this haunted place?

The fort was constructed by a king several hundreds of years ago, maybe one thousand years back. For the next 300 years, it remained with the same dynasty. All was well and quiet and peaceful till the 15th century AD when tragedy struck. 
One of the sultans of Mandu ( and you must visit Mandu too during your visit to India) ,Hoshang Shah, was enamoured with the riches of Gagron.He decided to invade it with a large army. The resident Rajput king of Gangron, Achaldas, held out for several months. He was a brave guy but the fort did not have adequate reserves of food and water.
It was a moment of crisis for Achaldas and after consulting his nobles, he decided to let out a last hurrah.The Rajput ladies decided to immolate themselves before their men folk went on their last campaign.
All the Rajput ladies and their small kids burnt themselves to death. This practice was called Jauhar in the ancient days.
After the ladies burnt themselves to death, the Rajput menfolk draped themselves in saffron coloured clothes and charged at their enemy. But. alas, not one of the men survived the battle.Hoshang Shah emerged victorious and captured the fort.
The troubled soul of the king, Achaldas, is said to haunt the for all these hundreds of years.

The Mystery of the King’s Bed

Achaldas’ properties were not touched by Hoshang Shah  after the battle. The sultan left them intact ,he was so enchanted by the bravery of Achaldas.

One of the properties of the king was his bed that survived till 1950. It was said by the locals that  the cleaner of the bed used to find 5 rupees every morning by the side of the furniture ! The keeper of the fort, Thakur Moti Singh tells us that he used to listen to voices of people enjoying the hookah from inside the locked room of the king! Was the room haunted? I do not know.

No Foundations And Three Walls

The fort of Gagron is perhaps the only castle in India that does not have any foundations. Another interesting thing is that the fort is surrounded by 3 walls. Another interesting feature of the Gagron fort is that it is surrounded by a river on its 3 sides.

Forts of India

Traitor, parrot squawked!

This is a very interesting story on Gagron. Read on…The parrots of this place speak in human voices. It is said that upon the capture of this fort by Humayun, the Mughal king found a parrot in the belongings of the defeated sultan, Bahadur Shah. The parrot could speak in a human voice.

This parrot had heard the plans of a noble of Bahadur Shah to assassinate Humayun. The name of the noble was Rumi Khan.Rumi presented himself to Humayun and asked for refuge. But, as soon as the parrot saw Rumi , it squawked., “Rumi is a traitor, don’t believe him!” Rumi Khan was embarrassed no end and had to leave the service of Humayun a few days later. Humayun was the father of Akbar.

Interested in exploring this travel site? No worries, you may write an email to me and I will help you in planning your travel itinerary. In fact, if you want to explore Gagron and other places in rajasthan on your own, my advice is to book the accommodations of Rajasthan Tourism. They are safe, clean and affordable.

The other places that you can explore nearby are the forts of Boondi, Kota and of course the city of Udaipur.

Thanks for reading this post, hope you enjoyed it.

 

Festivals of India

India Travel Blog- Ramlila And The Story Of Valmiki

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If you are travelling to India this time and happen to be in Varanasi or any other North Indian town, do drop in any of the several Ramlilas being enacted there..Trust me, this will be an experience of a life time. Today is Dussehra and many Ramlilas will come to an end. So, pack your bags and head to the nearest Ramlila and soak up that experience.

Several thousands of years ago, there was a prince, Rama who was banished from the kingdom by his father, King Dashrath on the advice of his headstrong queen, Kaikeyi. Rama, the dutiful son that he was , spent the next 14 years of his life in the forests of India and was accompanied in his travails by his brother, Lakshmana.and wife, Sita.One day, she was kidnapped by Ravana and while taking her to Lanka, he was attacked by Jatayu, the King of Birds. Jatayu failed to help Sita and was killed by Ravana.

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Lord Rama with Sita.Courtesy- santabanta.com

The story of Rama and Sita spans several countries- Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and of course, the present day, India.

Rama was born in Ayodhya, a small North Indian town located on the banks of the mighty Saryu river. He was the eldest of the 4 sons of Dasaratha and the natural claimant of the throne. Fortune had other things in store for him and the machinations of  Kaikeyi- Dashrath’s favourite queen- ensured that Rama spent 14 years of his life in the vast and intimidating jungles of India  and fighting the enemies of humanity.  Rama fought and defeated Ravana, the King of Lanka and the mightiest king of his times. Ravana had almost all the devatas in his thrall and even had an aeroplane to fly around.

While, Rama was all alone when he started his journey of banishment, over the years, he collected a vast army comprising the subdued and oppressed people of the various parts of India. The most trusted commander of Rama was Hanuman, a member of the forest dwelling tribe of India. Though Hanuman was born in a low class family, he had a tremendous intellect and was also blessed with a phenomenal strength.

Many Indians remember Hanuman daily in their thoughts and regard him as the remover of all obstacles. Hanuman is immortal and lives everywhere.

Rama is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver in the Holy Trinity in the Indian thought. Many people believe- and I am a member of that community- that the mere utterance of the name , Rama, delivers us from evil and gets us Moksha or salvation. The final endeavour of Hindus is to attain salvation – escaping the cycle of birth and death.

Ravana was a terrible foe and possessed the strongest army in the entire world. He was near  immortal and had his formidable brother, Kumbhakarna and son, Meghanad as military commanders. His other brother, Vibhishana crossed over to Rama’s side before the start of the war.

Ravana had a pitcher of nectar placed in his navel area and nobody knew this secret but Vibhishana. He shared this important piece of information with Rama and this led to the death of Ravana.

The war lasted for 10 days in the island of Lanka. To cross over to the island, Rama and his army constructed a bridge across the Palk Strait, that divides India and Sri Lanka. This bridge is visible from the outer space.

On the 10 th day of this war, Rama vanquished Ravana. The 10th day of the war is celebrated as Vijayadashami or Dussehra. Indians celebrate Dussehra by erecting effigies of Ravana and his son and  his brother and lighting them with fire. The effigies are stuffed with crackers. This year, another effigy has come up alongside those of Ravana and his kin- the effigy of terrorism.

Festivals of India

Dusshera

After this win, Rama returned to Ayodhya and ascended the throne. His father, the king Dashratha had expired by then  of grief.



Rama is considered to be a man who stayed within his limits and was the epitome of human perfection in qualities. He was the ideal son, ideal king, brother, friend etc. The great sage , Valmiki penned his story in the eponymous, Ramayana. Valmiki was a robber in his earlier days. Moved by the sight of a stork crying out in anguish after its consort was hit with an arrow, Valmiki became a poet. The resultant of his pain and anguish came out as Ramayana.

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Many centuries later, another sage, Tulsidas wrote another story of Rama- Ramcharitmanas. He followed it up by starting Ramlilas- dramas on the life of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and the other characters.

During the 10 days that the Ramlilas are on, the atmosphere in the cities is electric. It is believed that Lord Rama himself comes and resides in the bodies of the characters enacting his role. These 10 days are a journey for millions of Indians to once again start living in a virtuous way. But, it is really difficult for most of us. to even copy even 1 % of his ideals. I am uploading here a video of one of the episodes of Ramlila.

I have included a short clip of a Ramlila which I visited yesterday. The armies of Lord Rama and Ravana are poised to fight each other. Have a look at this Ramlila video.

Ramlilas also provide a short time business opportunity to many small time as well as established businesses. Now wonder, Rama is a source of succour to so many famished souls even after thousands of years after his death.

Festivals of India
A trader sells “jalebis” at one of the stalls

 

Festivals of India

Effigies of Ravana
Effigies of Ravana on sale on a Delhi road

Today, even though several thousands of years have passed since Rama walked this earth, his name finds resonance in several geographies. Rama is the title of the Thai rulers. Many people are of the opinion that the King Rameses of Egypt borrowed the name of Rama and appended it to his title. Mahatma Gandhi considered Lord Rama as his spiritual guide and mentor.

Millions of Indians have this fervent wish that the word “Rama” should be on their lips at the time of their deaths.

The Story of Rama’s Death

Well, one day, while he was the king of Ayodhya, a man came to meet him. The meeting happened in private and nobody knew what  was being  discussed. After the meeting was over, Rama stood from his seat, opened the door of his room, walked to the door of his palace, exited it and walked all the way to the river Saryu. He continued walking all the way to its banks. He did not stop even even when the water reached his knees. He continued walking to the middle of the river . Now, the river was engulfing him. He did not stop and reached the deepest part of the river. Now, only his crown was visible, shimmering in the afternoon Sun.

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(Guptar Ghat- Ayodhya. Courtesy- Tripadvisor)

And, in an instant, Rama was gone. After performing his earthly duties as the ideal king, husband, brother, father, son, friend and warrior, Lord Rama had left this material world.

The ghat or the steps from where Lord Rama descended into the river at Ayodhya is the Guptar Ghat.



More on Lord Rama can be read here ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Rama

How did you find this post on Dussehra, my friends? Hope, you enjoyed it.

Happy Dussehra.