“There are two stories related to this haunted fort behind you guys”,the local guide Bhuvan explained.
“The first legend claims that a king named Madho Singh raised the Bhangarh fort after obtaining due permission from an ascetic named Bala Nath who lived there; having agreed to a condition which said that the shadow of the fort must never fall upon the home of the ascetic.
But as fate would have it, one of the ambitious successors of Madho Singh added to the fortifications vertically, thereby causing its ominous shadow to engulf the abode of the ascetic.
Lo and Behold, once it came to pass, the fort was doomed within no time. The alleged prophecy stood fulfilled, and the Bhangarh Fort became haunted.”
“..and the second? ”,a worried Farida enquired.
“The second legend behind the Bhangarh Fort, more popular than the first one, claims that Princess Ratnavati of Bhangarh was responsible for the apocalyptic situation which befell the fort. A local black magician fell in love with her (the princess is believed to have been very beautiful) and once tried to bewitch a cosmetic she was supposed to use, to make her fall in love with him. The princess smelled suspicion and foiled the entire conspiracy of the black magician by pouring the bewitched cosmetic over a massive stone boulder, which then supposedly crushed the ‘tantrik’ to death. Before the magician breathed his last, he placed a curse upon the entire landscape that no soul would ever be able to live in peace there. The entire landscape around the Bhangarh Fort has been haunted since.”
“Eew..that’s pretty scary! ”,Tanmay teased Farida.
“Shh! Keep quiet you idiot”,she playfully nudged him with her elbow.
“The authorities are very clear that one shouldn’t get inside or be near the premises after sunset. People believe Princess Ratnavati’s soul still wanders here. Plus, there have been many spooky happenings too.”,Bhuvan warned them.
“Ya..it is written over there too. In bold Hindi. And we can read Hindi.”,Gaurav pointed towards the blue board near the entrance.
“I just reminded you Sir. Apologies, I didn’t mean any disrespect. ”,Bhuvan apologised.
“Nah man! Don’t get that serious! He was just kidding!”,Navneet Dhillon,their manager comforted him.
“Where are you people lodged by the way?”,Bhuvan asked as he joined them towards the entrance.
“Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur”,Saahir replied.
“Excellent choice! ”,Bhuvan remarked.
“After all it’s mine!”,Navneet guffawed.
“Hey..before you leave, can you tell us any party place here? ”,an over excited Akshar asked him.
“As you people are lodged at Umaid Bhawan Palace, you should definitely check out Klay Oven. Just a few minutes away from the Palace. ”,Bhuvan answered promptly.
“Woaho! Just the local guide we needed. I bet you’ll beat Siri.”, Akshar smiled.
“What’s Siri?”,a puzzled Bhuvan asked.
“Ah..nothing serious.”,Tanmay tried ending the conversation.
“Thanks for being such a good guide Bhuvan. We are so grateful and lucky that we got you to help us out!”,Navneet handed him a few thousand rupee notes and bid adieu with his team.
“Thank you ma’am ”,a visibly happy Bhuvan replied before leaving them to find another tourists to help.
“Hey guys,what do you think? Should we sneak in? After everyone’s gone? ”,Gaurav suggested after ensuring Bhuvan is out of their sight.
“Are you totally out of your senses Gaurav?”,Farida started trembling with fear.
“Fear not! It’ll be fun!”,Gaurav rubbed his hands in excitement.
“This is stupidity. We need to go back and take some rest Gaurav. Don’t forget why we are here. We have a meeting tomorrow with the entire team regarding the next steps. You forgot it? ”,Navneet was not pleased with his idea.
“But,it’s tomorrow right? Today was meant to be fun! ”,Gaurav protested.
“Ohk Ohk..before you two get in to a quarrel, let’s mutually decide, as always. Vote time! Those who think we should go inside, raise your hands!”,Tanmay decided to act as the mediator.
Gaurav,Akshar,Tanmay and Saahir were up to it, whereas Farida and Navneet weren’t.
“Ladies! Too frightened by the very thought eh?”,Saahir teased them.
“No. But don’t you think it’s a sheer waste of time Saahir? I prefer rest over sneaking into a haunted fort”,Navneet made her point.
“Atleast give it a try!”,Gaurav tried changing her view.
“Well,we can’t do anything but support you guys. Unanimous decision of yours after all!”,Navneet said sarcastically.
“Yes!”,Akshar and Tanmay did a hi-five.
“But we won’t accompany you to that place. Not that we are afraid or anything, we prefer seated inside our SUV than being out in the cold.”,Navneet started moving towards their vehicle. Farida followed her.
“Let’s go and get some food before we go in. By the way, there are people here. We will sneak in once it’s dark.”,Gaurav’s mastermind skills worked again.
“Aye Aye Captain!”,the other gentlemen mock saluted him.
60 minutes later:
A refreshed and re-energized team of Gaurav, Akshar, Tanmay and Saahir went out towards the fort.
The two ladies remained inside the SUV.
“As expected, a few old guards!”,Akshar smiled.
“We go from the East. There’s no security there. The ruins make it difficult to breach inside. But that’s the best chance we have got here.”,Gaurav explained the plan.
“Hey hey! Seems likes someone has put in a lot of research huh?”,Saahir pointed out the obvious.
“Mention not! Let’s go!”,Gaurav couldn’t hold on his excitement level.
They slowly moved towards the East side of the fort without getting noticed by the guards. Once they reached, all they could do was gape at the beauty of the ruins which was illuminated by the moonlight. The starry sky added to the effect.
“I wish..Navneet and Farida were here to witness this moment.”, Gaurav said.
“Ya..”,Saahir agreed to his view.
“No time to gape at this scenery, we have to go inside!”,Gaurav pulled up his pants,ready to climb the wall.
But as soon as he touched the brick, he felt nauseated. It felt as if he was being watched, as if his movements were slowed down. The air had a feel of heavy dizziness.
“What’s happening to me?”
He started hearing weird sounds.
“I won’t..I won’t leave you alive!”
He heard a woman laugh like a maniac.
Gaurav freaked out on this and started running away.
“Where..where the hell are you running Gaurav?”, Sahir yelled.
“Run Sahir Run!”,Gaurav shouted as he ran towards the parked SUV.
They had no option, but to follow him back.
THE NEXT DAY:
Umaid Bhavan Palace
“So team, since the past two years,we have been running here and there inside India like crazy. Wanderlust Tours and Travels have grown a lot. From a simple idea in our college life to being a famous and a successful travel agency in a couple of years is what I term..”
“Progress ”,the others completed Navneet’s opening para which is always the same.
“So,what’s on our agenda this time? ”,Sahir enquired.
“Actually, me and Gaurav have been thinking on this from the past few months. It would have been great if he was here, but yesterday that lunatic got himself scared and now he is asleep in his room.”
“Apparently, we’ve been focussing on the Indian market for this long. We set up our bases and employed people in all the metropolitan cities in these two years. But if we have to expand to Tier 2 cities ,then we have to put in more efforts and more money. And for more money, we have to start picking ourselves up. Upgrade our standards. Set an example for our rival agencies to follow.”
“What are you trying to say Navneet?”,Tanmay was confused like the others.
“Start plans for abroad travel.”
“Woaho!”,Sahir started clapping.
“We have been growing very rapidly in the domestic front when compared to our nearest rival. But they always get the upper edge due to their foreign plans. Travellers prefer an agency that has both the region plans. Not just one.”,Navneet explained.
“That’s true.”,Farida agreed.
“But as always,we move ahead as a team and not as individuals. So I want to know what your views are.”
“You mean vote time? ”,Akshar grinned.
Navneet nodded her head,smiling.
The next moment,everyone held their hand up- except Sahir who took a moment to think and then raised his hand.
“You not sure Sahir?”,Navneet asked him.
“I’m sure,but I do have a suggestion. The thing is we will start the abroad plans. Fine. But I think we not only need to start it. We need to kick-start it..with some kind of incentives, discounts or something; so that the customers are attracted towards us and not our rivals.”,Sahir said out his mind.
“Yes! That’s a pretty strong point Sahir and me and Gaurav had thought about this. So we had made a scheme called..”
“THE LUCKY TICKET”, Gaurav entered the conference room, holding a wooden box.
“Hey! You were advised rest right? Why did you come here? Go and sleep now!”,Navneet was angry at him. At the same time, she was happy that the love of her life was besides her at this ground breaking moment for their company.
“No. I feel the prospect of our company blooming with success is more exciting than sleeping and seeing weird dreams Ms.Navneet Dhillon.”,Gaurav showed off his trademark smile.
The next moment, Gaurav opened the wooden box and took out some cardboard pieces and flashed them in the air.
“These my friends, are 6 lucky tickets. Each ticket has a unique 6 digit number behind the silver patch, with the terms and conditions behind it.”,Gaurav said as he gave each one of them a ticket.
“And those who get the same digit 6 times, say a 111111 or 333333,they win. There will be six such tickets. Which means the people with ticket numbers 111111,222222 till 666666 will be the winners. And you’re currently holding the winning tickets
”, Navneet revealed.
“And what exactly will the winners get?”, Farida asked.
“A chance to fly to New York. Free of cost.”,Navneet and Gaurav said in unison.
“Oh my goodness.. You think this will work? ”,Akshar was doubtful.
“We mentioned a ‘chance’ to go to New York fella!”,Navneet started laughing.
“Oh..I see you cunning entrepreneurial minds!”,Akshar joined her.
“Only one among them actually wins. There will be a lucky draw to know who.”,Gaurav made the concept clear.
“We will hand out a lucky ticket to each and every registered customer of our agency. This means eventually
it’ll draw more customers on our side. Plus, for the first month,we have decided to give a 20% discount on every booking!”,Navneet disclosed.
“This seems like one hell of an idea!”,remarked Sahir.
“This will work buddy! ”,Tanmay went ahead and hugged Gaurav.
“Well,this has to..”,Gaurav reminded himself.
“So its party time! New plans! New beginning’s and broader horizons to conquer!”, Akshar stood up and announced.
“Another excuse for Akshar to party right? ”,Navneet smiled.
“Yes! Plus today is Halloween’s! Remember? ”,Akshar reminded them.
“The day the souls wander free? ”,a timid Farida was frightened already.
“Yeah..that’s what people say..but all they actually want is to dress weirdly and party hard!”, Tanmay said as a matter of fact.
“Fine then. 9 pm. Klay Oven,as Bhuvan suggested. Okay with all of you? ”, Akshar asked.
“Yes”, they replied together.
“And we’re not gonna wear weird costumes! ”,Farida kept a condition.
“Fine baba! You just come! That’s enough!”, Akshar playfully pulled her cheeks.
Located at Umed Club Road,
Klay Oven offered a nice blend between the eastern and western ambience with an excellent view of the entire city, the Mehrangarh Fort and the Umaid Bhavan Palace. Apart from that, the bar offered the regular club and lounge facilities viz. a dance floor, live DJ, a well-stocked bar and a neat assortment of hookahs to choose from. All in all, it was a great place to party with your family and friends.
The entire place was customised with a Halloween theme. They checked in after the bouncers at the entry affixed a seal near their wrists.
They headed straight to the dance floor without any further thought.
And they danced like mad. Especially Akshar who was the most excited person alive since they decided to party.
Many teenagers and guys in their early 20’s where spotted having a gala time in those weird costumes. Some where dressed like aliens with pumpkin heads while some where dressed like scary snowmen. They laughed at some of their costumes while dancing to the groove.
After an hour or so,they decided that it would be better if they take some rest, and some food. They went to the lounge bar and restaurant adjacent to the dance floor and sat on the couch.
“Before the starters, I suggest you to have these awesome cocktails here. It can get a bit trippy but believe me it’s fun!”, Gaurav said as he ordered some drinks for his team.
“Ah! That was so so sour!”,Farida complained.
“But it was actually sweet and bitter at the same time. Where did sour come in from?”,Tanmay started laughing goofily. Clearly,the drink had started its effect.
“Farida, you’re drunk!”,Gaurav yelled.
“So are you Gaurav!”, Navneet who wasn’t much affected by the drink slapped him gently on his face so that he remains in his senses.
That’s when someone asked them from behind:
“Trick or Treat?”