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All Things Mysterious- An Excerpt from ‘Haunted’

Haunted chronicles the real-life adventures of paranormal investigator Jay Alani in ten of the spookiest locations in India. Co-authored by Neil D’Silva, these exploits provide a ringside view of these hair-raising paranormal journeys for everyone who has an interest in exploring the dark side of the normal.

Read an excerpt from this spooky book below:

I, JAY ALANI, known to people as an investigator of the paranormal and all things mysterious, bring to you these stories culled from my experiences. These are my exploits in some of the most haunted places in India, some well-known and some shrouded in namelessness, and all of them guaranteed to make you see a side of our country that you have never experienced before. I begin this rollicking ride with my adventure at Kuldhara.

With all the legends and lore that revolve around the abandoned town of Kuldhara, it is a wonder that I did not visit it earlier than I did. This is a village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, established in the thirteenth century. Somewhere around 200 years ago, the people of this village vanished without a trace. No one knows where they went or the reason why they left. The mass exodus of people from Kuldhara and their subsequent disappearance remains an unexplained historical mystery. With no evidence available, strong local belief holds that it was because of a curse unleashed on them by a mystical foreigner. Today, the empty and barren Kuldhara attracts tourists, archaeologists, historical experts, as also a vast number of paranormal investigators.

My visit to Kuldhara happened by accident. That cold, fateful night, it was not my intention to be there, and I was caught unawares, ill-prepared. I made it out of the place safely, but the trip left me with memories for a lifetime. Journey with me as I recount the terrifying night that I spent at Kuldhara and the hair-raising experiences I had with a ‘lost’ child.

My visit to Kuldhara came about when a college friend invited me to his wedding in Jaisalmer. I was in Delhi then, and I drove down in my white Tata Safari. Accompanying me was a close college buddy who had also been invited, Rohan Achari. Jaisalmer is a historically rich city in the state of Rajasthan and is situated in the Thar desert. If you have been to the city, you will know that for miles around there is nothing but desert sand. Dotting the landscape are grand havelis and monuments. The people here are always colourfully dressed and display a great sense of joie de vivre. This is especially visible during the hugely famous Jaisalmer Desert Festival, which beautifully showcases Rajasthani folk music and dance, including the magnificent Kalbeliya and Ghoomar dances. Most of the local families here have inhabited the place for generations, resulting in a close-knit society where everyone knows everyone else.

The opulence of the wedding in the midst of such arid land bedazzled us. The venue was an ancestral haveli, and it was every bit the grand Rajasthani affair one would expect it to be. Music and dance pervaded the atmosphere of the place where royalty had once resided. The family of the groom were wealthy to the point of extravagance, and they left no stone unturned in the hospitality department. The entire haveli was bedecked with brilliant lights that one could see from miles afar. Sitting there, oblivious to the rest of the world outside, we felt like baraatis at a royal wedding of yore.

The event I am about to narrate took place on my first night in Jaisalmer, the night before the wedding. After dinner, Rohan and I were assigned to a room. It didn’t look like we’d get any sleep that night though. With less than a day to go for the wedding, there was quite a bit of commotion all around, with the attendants looking after the last-minute arrangements in the halls outside. The two of us chatted for a while and then Rohan said, ‘Come on, yaar, let’s go out for a smoke.’

That sounded like a good idea. Cigarettes could help us pull through the cold night. But the closest shop was at the Jaisalmer railway station, 6 kilometres away.

Rohan was already at the door, wearing his jacket, stepping into his shoes.

‘Come on, man! Don’t you feel claustrophobic all cooped up like this?’

It was true. Despite the grandeur of the mansion, the rooms were quite small. Rohan knew about my career pursuits in the realm of the paranormal, but he only had a layperson’s view of it. He had no idea that I had been in places far more claustrophobia-inducing than this—caves and tunnels and mines! In any case, I was here for a wedding.

I had no intention of raking up any talk about my mysterious career.

But he was tempting me now. So I put on my sweater, pulled up the hood and grabbed the keys to my Tata Safari. Slapping him on the back, I led him out.

We left the hubbub of the wedding haveli behind and got into the car. Only once I was out of the room did I realize what I had been missing. That lonely desert drive was invigorating to say the least. I was the one driving; Rohan provided the silent company I needed. Silences have been my long-time companions anyway, and this was the kind of rural solitude that could be both exhilarating and mindnumbing at the same time. Most people would kill for such pleasures.

We got our smokes outside the railway station and sat on a rickety bench. Puffing away into the night like that, there was no need or desire to look at the watch, but when I did, I shot up like a spring. It was nearing 1 a.m. The platform
vendors had shut shop hours ago, and the only people at the station were the passengers waiting overnight on the platform for their early-morning outstation trains.

I prodded Rohan to get up. A yawn and a stretch and much reluctance later, we walked towards my car.The return journey was not as silent.

Intrigued about what happens next? Check out Haunted

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