Monday, August 20

Brijraj Bhavan (Kota, Rajasthan) - Haunted Palace and a Heritage Hotel

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All of us know that India with its rich and long history was ruled by the British for almost 150 years, until 1947, when India rose to freedom. The first war for independence, popular as the Indian Mutiny started long back in 1857, and so did this ghost story from India. Back then, when the soldiers were called ‘sepoys’ and India was divided into so-called princely states ruled by the Kings who soon surrendered to the British. Rajasthan, the largest state of the Republic of India is one such region ruled by the Kings for centuries. Surely, there are many haunted places in Rajasthan which would add up to the list of ghost stories from India

Rajasthan, even the name implies ‘the land of kings’. Whenever we come across these vocabularies, first thing we would visualise is wars, kingdom, riches, palaces, mythology, murders, betrayal, deaths and much more….And so this lead to many ghost stories in Rajasthan as well as haunted places in Rajasthan. These places lure ghost hunters and enthusiasts from around the globe. One such historical ghost story comes from Kota, Rajasthan, a city on the banks of the Chambal River. 

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There are quite a few haunted places in Kota, one of them being Brijraj Bhavan – Once a palace of the former princely family of Kota. It is one of the haunted palaces in India, having a resident ghost of Major Charles Burton, who, while serving as the British resident to Kota, was killed by Indian sepoys during the 1857 Mutiny. Here goes the story! 

Brijraj Bhavan Palace was the British Residency and the home of Major Charles Burton, 40th Bengal Native Infantry posted to Kota. He and his family had lived there for 13 years. In May 1857, at the outbreak of the mutiny, Major Burton was summoned by the British General commanding the nearby Neemuch cantonment for the protection of Neemuch, a town in Madhya Pradesh. Burton was accompanied to Neemuch by his family. He returned back with his two sons on the request of Kota’s Maharaja (King). Nobody knew then, that this would turn into a haunted palace in India. The Burtons arrived at Kota on December 13, 1857, meeting every mark of kindness. This didn’t last long! Two days later, Major Burton saw a large party approaching the Residency. He assumed that these troops of the Maharaja had come to pay a friendly visit. But soon, the building was surrounded and entered by the soldiers, who had mutinied. Abandoned by all their servants, Major Burton and his two sons took refuge in an upper room with few arms that they had been able to snatch and waited for help to arrive from the Maharaja, while the house was looted below them. After five hours of firing, Major Burton and his sons surrendered. Kneeling down they said their prayers. In March, 1858, Kota was retaken by the British and the bodies of the Burtons were disinterred and buried in the Kota cemetery with full military honours. 

After Independence, the mansion became the private property of the Maharaja of Kota. In the 1970s, the Government of India abolished the privy purses and privileges of the maharajas, renovating the building and calling it as Brij Raj Bhawan. Today, it is not only a heritage hotel but also a haunted destination in India where the ghost of Major Burtan prevails. It is said that Charles Burton’s ghost still haunts the old building and susceptible guests have complained of distinctly "discomforting and oppressive feelings". The staff, although reluctant to complain, have discussed of an English voice being heard often by the drowsy chowkidars (watchmen) that says, "Don’t sleep, no smoking" followed by a sharp slap. Seems that the ghost of Burton still patrols the mansion! 

This haunted royal palace will surely be remembered in future, if not for the historical events that took place here then as one of the top haunted destinations in India.

1 comment:

  1. Have there been incidents of anybody hurt or killed by the ghost? Looks like a benevolent one to me...