Alwar is probably one of the oldest cities in Rajasthan India, it is vast, beautiful in it’s own way and pretty quiet in terms of tourism. There are two treasures that I would recommend any traveller to find and visit. One you must search for, an abandoned city in ruins. – I say find because this location is literally in the middle of nowhere and we drove for hours to get there… But it was truly worth it. – And the other you need permission from the Indian Po Po! – The police in case you weren’t following me... –
8th December 2013
After our visit to Agra we continued on to the arid city of Alwar. The drive was long, and we took a pit stop in a city called Deeg. We didn’t really take a big tourist route, and we didn’t really know what to do or where to go. But, Rawat took us to some awesome fort ruins with gorgeous views of the city and it’s splashes of pale blue all over, that sat at the bottom of the hill.
We climbed the turret of the ruin which lead us to the top and found perched in the middle a HUGE cannon. – An Indian hippie also followed us to the top, I feel he may have thought we were up to no good because he literally followed us and left as we did haha! –
We did a bit of exploration around the grounds of the ruin leading some kids back to their trip of goats. – I actually had to google what a group of goats was, trip or tribe apparently! – We just missed by moments the birth of two more kids as we walked around the corner! But we managed to get a quick snap with the farmer.
You will see if you ever go through the rural parts of India, lots of huts made out of mud. Inside of them, cow pat that is collected when dry and stored. These are then sold as fire starters. – Nifty huh? Such a great way to make use of the waste that the cows leave behind. –
Vinay Vilas Mahal
This is a beautiful city palace complex, also abandoned. It is quite large, with gardens you can explore and a huge water reservoir in the middle. We saw people washing their clothes and children swimming in these waters. There was even a place for prayer.
You can explore the gardens, accompanied by monkeys, wander around the museum on site in one of the buildings and even visit the shrine where most locals enter to pray.
Outside the complex we met some locals selling street food and stopped to have a conversation whilst dining and drinking tea. We were offered an authentic Indian cigarette known as a “Bidi (beedee)”. I think the men were shocked to see me take one. – It was disgusting, I threw it away as soon as we turned a corner. – Brad later told me that women in India who smoke are seen as rebellious and not your typical stereotype of a young elegant woman. – a very very fitting description for me! –
We spent the next couple of hours driving through all the rural towns and farmland towards Alwar. I loved looking through the window of Rawat’s car at the ever changing scenery. I couldn’t get enough of it, and regret each time I fell asleep, because those parts of India I may never see again.
9th December 2013
The first was special because we needed written permission by the Indian police to enter this abandoned fort. It was a protected building and they were very strict about who to let in to explore. Which means that if you get in, you basically have the place to yourself!
Rawat (actually Rajendra Rawat) – if you want affordable and safe transport around Rajasthan, he is your man. He has guest books that every person that he has travelled with has written in! Highly recommended. Contact him here and check out his new FB Page – took us the the offices where we needed to get the letter of pass from.
Brad spent several hours in there, I was advised not to come in so I spent a long time in the car waiting.
Here are a few things you need to know about getting your chance to see this treasure:
- Marital Status: If you are a couple travelling you are more likely to get accepted if you are married. If you aren’t I would suggest saying you are, which is what we did. – Little did I know that Brad already knew at this point that he was going to ask me to be his wife in the New Year. – They do not ask for proof by the way.
- Make them aware that you are Tourists and that you are there to see the architecture and experience being on such an incredible site.
- ID/Passports make sure you have these on hand.
- Flattery: Be complimentary and show your excitement about the building. These things will get you far.
- Punctuality: If you do get permission make sure you are on time if not EARLY when you meet them at the gate. We arrived when we were told but the guard was expecting us earlier and we almost missed our opportunity to get in.
En route to the protected building you must climb winding roads on a mountain, encounters with deer and then finally reaching the top where the building over looks the city of Alwar.
Once you are in, my god is the view spectacular. The moments we experienced in there were something special, if you can have these moments too, I highly recommend it. A piece of history that not many have the privilege of seeing, a true example of what you can experience with a bit of effort and flattery!
If you want to visit a site that truly makes you feel like Lara Croft The Tomb Raider, this hands down will be one of them! It is quite out of the way, and we drove through several hours of rural landscapes, farmer communities and even came across an Indian Gypsy camp!
Rawat had never been to Bhangrah before, so there was a lot of stoping and asking people where to go and we took quite a bit of a detour. We were sightly nervous, we didn’t want our journey to be a wasted one.
Once you get there, there is a small fee to pay but it is 100% worth it. There are ruins all over the site, from small temples, to the huge city complex itself. And this place really was populated by monkeys!
We had the whole place to ourselves again, a massive ancient city in ruins, with so much ancient history and fame, which I will tell you more about in a moment. We spent the rest of our day exploring this amazing location in complete awe of every brick, statue, crack in a wall and roots from the trees crushing the ruins before us. It was phenomenal and being there felt so special.
Having been there now, I can safely say that this site was (out of all the forts and palaces that we had explored) my favourite. I even found out much later through research that this place is considered one of the most haunted sites in India! – Seriously, google it. –
In A Nutshell:
This chick Ratnavati was the princess of Bhangarh and was famed for her gracious beauty all across the kingdom. When she turned 18, loads of men from different kingdoms asked her hand in marriage. Tempted by the beauty of the Princess, Singhia, a black magician (I imagine some dude like Jafar from Aladdin) decided to lure Ratnavati and curse her with an enchanted oil.The Princess was not fooled by Singhia’s cunning plan and poured the oil on to the ground. The oil then turned into a rock and rolled towards Singhia, crushing him. With his last breath, the magician cursed the town to death and no more rebirths (Hinduism strongly believe in reincarnation). The curse showed its results in a war between Bhangarh and Ajabgarh, where the princess was assassinated. Legend has it that the princess has reborn and the fort is waiting for her return and end thecurse.
Walking through the premises you can imagine it as it once was it all it’s glory and in hindsight I could feel the eeriness walking through it.
Looking back I remember being ushered off the site in a panic as the sun started to go down! Apparently no one is allowed to enter the fort premises once the sun sets. The locals of Bhangarh have spoken of several incidents where nomads or volunteers opted for a night stay in the fort, but never returned the next morning.
So now, strict restrictions have been imposed and you have to leave the fort premises before dusk.
If you spend some time in Alwar, you must visit these two sites, you will not regret it. – Especially if you want to play out your fantasies of being Lara Croft… I had all the fun! – Is there any other sites in India you would call a treasure? Share them in the comments below!