A visit to the most haunted fort in Rajasthan and more with Amanbagh

Nestled in the heart of the valley with the Aravalli mountains forming a gorgeous backdrop lies a green oasis that is Amanbagh – our weekend retreat for two days! For more on our stay, you can read our review of the Amanbagh.

The drive from Jaipur airport to Amanbagh is simply beautiful. As you traverse down a slightly bumpy road with vibrant Flame of the Forest trees on either side and a scattering of pretty peacocks and playful langurs here and there; you begin to feel you’re already in paradise. That’s when you spot it in the distance. A modern-day palace glistening in pink and surrounded by many, many trees. As your vehicle approaches past the lush landscaped gardens filled with only the melodious sound of chirping birds; you know you’ve reached the ‘garden of peace’!

Amanbagh enjoys a fabulous location in the rural valley of Ajabargh. It gives you that much-needed solitude and is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. The resort itself has a host of activities one can indulge in besides day excursions to places of interest. Whether on foot, by camel, horseback, or in an open jeep, the ever smiling staff can arrange it all for you.

Morning walks
Morning walks are a lovely way to discover the valley and observe traditional farming life while learning about the flora and fauna native to this part of Rajasthan. There are walks scheduled every morning at 7.30 and a guide will show you around.

The Gopinath temple inside Bhangarh fort

Hindu temple visit
If you’d like to experience the spiritual side of Amanbagh, there is a temple in the vicinity where you can even partake in an ‘Aarti’ (Hindu ritual of worship) ceremony daily at 6.45 pm.

Other activities
The resort also offers yoga and meditation sessions every morning either at the resort or offsite in front of the temples of Bhangarh. Definitely go in for the latter. If you’d like to learn some Indian cooking, there are even private cooking classes where Chef will explain the various Indian spices and teach you to cook up a meal befitting a king. A visit to the resort’s private organic garden should not be missed as it’s a great way to learn how herbs and vegetables are grown. Plus, you now know where your food is sourced from! I did pay a visit to the organic vegetable garden and was taken aback by the variety of herbs and vegetables and my question to Chef was “Tell me, what vegetable do you NOT have here?” All I got was a mischievous grin in response to that. Ah, well!

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During our stay at the resort, we opted for two excursions given a little time that we had. A visit to the ‘Bhangarh fort’, said to be one of Asia’s most haunted places and the ‘Cow Dust’ tour.

Bhangarh Fort
We started out at 7.30 am so as to beat the hot sun later in the day. The fort is around 15 km away from the resort and is an archaeological site that holds the ruins of many bazaars, palaces, and temples. It is rumored to be haunted and legend has it that the township was built in 1600’s by Diwan Madho Singh. The story goes that an evil magician attempted to seduce the queen by placing a magic potion in her oil but the queen saw through his attempt. She then thwarted his plan by pouring the oil on the ground which turned into a rock and rolled towards the magician crushing him to death. But not before the evil magician cursed the city to death. Voila! The city disappears overnight! Of course, this is just one of the many legends doing the rounds but I found this the most captivating. Well, ghosts we did not encounter but what we did find were beautifully landscaped gardens, temples with intricate carvings, and a gorgeous view of the surrounding area from atop the fort. Keep aside a good two hours to visit this place or more if you want to spend time looking for ghosts.

A glimpse of village life. Scenes from the Cow Dust tour

Cow Dust tour
We set out for the Cow Dust tour at 4.30 pm. If you’d like a taste of rural life, then this tour is highly recommended. Aptly named so, for you get to see the cows led back home along village roads through the dust they leave in their wake. You get to enjoy a drive in an open jeep through the surrounding villages of Ajabargh passing by locals as they herd their cattle; children playing village cricket, and village elders gathered around their hookahs for an evening of communal smoke and gossip. You may even be invited for chai to a village home and this can be a great way of experiencing their life. The scenery along the way is spectacular from passing by lush green fields of wheat, vegetable gardens, and of course the very majestic Ajabargh fort itself. You can even visit the fort and temple as a separate excursion.

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Women cutting grass. Scenes from the Cow Dust tour

Besides these, there are a host of other day excursions as well. A trip to the Sariska national park, the once personal hunting ground of the Maharaja of Alwar, it is home to tigers, leopards, antelope, sambar, wild boar, and monkeys. Around 35 minutes from Amanbagh, an early morning or an afternoon excursion would be the best time to set off. The Baba Kapoor Shah Mosque, Somsagar Lake, Narayani Mata temple, Kankwari Fort, etc. are other places you can visit.

As you can see, there is no dearth of the things you can do. Whether you want to laze around in the pool in the resort, de-stress with a yoga session, relax with a spa, or opt for one of the more adventurous excursions, Amanbagh has a lot to offer for both couples and families.

Excursions are chargeable and you need to inform the resort a day or two prior so they can plan for you. The good news is that you can also turn any one of these excursions into a fun picnic and the staff will gladly pack a picnic breakfast or lunch for you. Although we did not ask for a picnic basket, they were kind enough to pack us some chilled lemonade and cookies. Talk about really taking care of your guests.

Where: Amanbagh
District Alwar, Ajabgarh
Rajasthan 301027
Phone: 01465 223 333

Note– The critic was invited by Amanbagh. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.

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