Monday, January 6, 2020

The Haunted Ruins of Jalna

Well before we bought our piece of land for Amba Retreat I had already read about the haunted ruins of Jalna.

General Wheeler who discovered the sleeping hamlet of Jalna had built them. He had built two bungalows for his family and one for the guests. The guesthouse abuts the dirt track that leads to the tourist rest house farther down the lane.

The villagers of Jalna believe that the guesthouse is haunted.

The first time we passed by, it was broad daylight. The haunted ruins of Jalna were not looking creepy. Also, the local guides who were showing us the plot were with us.  

However, our next visit to Jalna was all-alone. It was also too late in the night. It was about ten-thirty or so. The manager of the less frequented hotel was concerned and was calling us regularly. Though the poor man’s intentions were noble his directions actually compounded the confusion. And his frequent calls were actually more a nuisance than any help.

The Google Maps app on the phone misdirected us down a steep narrow gully. As the track turned right we were facing the gate behind which were two ruined houses. A yellow incandescent bulb glowing dimly was visible from a window with broken glass from a crumbling building to the left. To my utter fright, I recognized that we were amidst the haunted ruins of General Wheeler.

A cold chill went down my spine. Immediately I attempted reversing our car, as the track was too narrow to take a full turn. The dirt track was dangerously slippery from the recent rains and the car was making little progress. Rather the wheels were getting more entrenched into the mud. Though the weather was cold I started sweating.

In the meantime, my wife got down to help me. The manager called again and I burst out at the poor fellow. The sleeping neighbours got up in the ensuing melee.

Slowly we managed to extricate the car from the narrow gully. The villagers guided us to the rest house. I explained our travails to the manager and apologized profusely for my rage. The big-hearted and amenable gentleman did not mind a bit and helped us to simple yet hot dinner at such an unholy hour. He has become a good friend over our several visits to Jalna for Amba Retreat.

We have walked past the supposedly haunted guesthouse several times afterwards both during the day and in the night – of course not at such an unholy hour as that day - but never met any ghosts.

Looking back at my fright, I can only wonder how the ingredients of darkness, deserted places, risky circumstances and the unknown can play tricks on an otherwise rational and fearless mind.

And as far as the fable of the haunted ruins of Jalna goes it remains just that – merely a local myth.

Really? Is it just a myth? I think we have to contend with that at least until one encounters a real ghoul in the haunted ruins of Jalna.

On a lighter note, you really don’t have to worry about any spirits at Amba Retreat. There are none. And Amba Retreat is far away from the ruins.

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