Whether you believe in them or not, sharing ghost stories are undoubtedly one of the most entertaining ways to spend an evening with friends and family. What happens, however, when some of these stories start to sound more like fact and less like fiction?
India’s rich history ensures that there are numerous spots with reported sightings of ghosts and other spirits.
Sanjay Van, Delhi
We aren’t talking about some creepy guy’s favourite mode of transport for kidnappings; Sanjay Van is a vast city forest area near Vasant Kunj in Delhi. At night, the dense and freakishly quiet woods turn into one of the most haunted areas in the country. Apparently, childish laughter spills forth from the Muslim graveyard deep in the woods where many children were once buried, and the spirit of a Sufi saint is regularly spotted walking through the woods. The area’s most feared spirit, however, is the ghost lady in a white sari, who is rumoured to have hung herself from a peepal tree there.
Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai
Situated in the Goregaon suburb of Mumbai, this famous colony has a nursery, lakes, an observation pavilion, picnic facilities, milk plants after which it was named, and the reputation of being one of the most haunted spots in the country. At night, the otherwise picturesque colony turns into a nightmare realm which most people refuse to drive through after dark. Sounds of weeping from a lady and children can often be heard and, sometimes, a lady clad in white is spotted clutching a baby to her bosom as she stands by the side of the road. But she pales in comparison to the vengeful spirit of the woman who transforms into a malevolent and horribly-disfigured person that has been rumoured to give chase to so many vehicles over the years.
Shaniwar Wada Fort, Pune
While the fort’s imposing façade and intricate architecture might seem beautiful at first glance, its walls hold a gory secret. As the story goes, the youngest Peshwa ruler, Narayanrao, was placed on the throne following his brother’s death, but his succession was opposed by his uncle, Raghunathrao. The uncle hired assassins to help him depose the boy king, which they did, successfully. Rumour has it that he was hacked into so many little pieces that his remains had to be carried in a pot. Centuries later, locals swear that, on full moon nights, you can still hear the young Peshwa ruler screaming “Kaka! Mala Vachva!” (“Uncle! Help me!”) as he tries to flee the assassins.
Barog Tunnel, Shimla
The Queen of Hill Stations isn’t without a few mysteries of her own. Her quaintest attraction, the stunning Shimla railway track, runs through one of the most haunted tunnels in the world. Named after the disgraced chief engineer, Colonel Barog – who shot himself in humiliation after being unable to succeed in the completion of the original tunnel – the Barog tunnel is a spot of frequent hauntings, both canine and human. Colonel Barog was buried near the incomplete tunnel, but it is rumoured that one can still spot him with his dog (and maybe even have a conversation with his spirit) during the 2.5 minutes it takes the train to get through the long, dark tunnel.
Kalpalli Cemetery, Bengaluru
I’ve been to this cemetery once for a dare and I can safely say that I’ll never go back again. Cemeteries are spooky places, but there’s something about Kalpalli that sets your teeth on edge. Several passers-by have reported sighting an old man creeping among the graves at odd hours. And while some braver folk might be tempted to sneak into the cemetery at night to prove their courage, be warned that there are plenty of dogs that have made the cemetery their territory and will behave aggressively towards anyone who goes inside. Which is why it’s so much scarier that, whenever the old man is sighted inside, the dogs are all completely silent.
All the other places on this list are nothing compared to Ravindranagar and the reason is simple. People have died during the hauntings here. Back in 2012, it was reported that at least half a dozen people had committed suicide by hanging after hearing rumours of the ghost that was supposedly haunting the colony. Groups were formed to try and track down the evil spirit, and it is rumoured that at least five more suicide attempts were thwarted in the days that followed. Many residents took to living in the nearby temple and the area was gripped by fear for a very long time. Even today the residents of Ravindranagar spend uneasy nights thinking about the evil spirit that lurks there.
Jatinga is just a simple village on a ridge. But for a while it was notorious for being a “suicide spot” for birds. During the late monsoon months, between September and November each year, between 7pm and 10pm, large numbers of birds plummet from the sky and crash to their deaths against buildings and trees in the area. This bizarre phenomenon put the village in the international spotlight and it was revealed that the villagers believed that it was the evil spirits living in the skies that were responsible for the birds’ suicides. Since then, however, the mystery has been solved and the real reason is far less frightening, but that won’t stop you from cowering in fear if you spot a bird diving towards you on the ground in Jatinga.
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