There are places where the past lingers, making shapes in the moonlight and blowing in the curtains even as the air goes suddenly still.
K. Hari Kumar, bestselling author of spine-chilling horror fiction, brings you the terrifying tales of some of India’s most haunted places — including Bhangarh Fort, Malabar Hill’s Tower of Silence and Jammu and Kashmir’s notorious Khooni Nala.
Whether you read them at night or in daylight, these stories will remain with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
My Review of India’s Most Haunted
India’s Most Haunted is a diverse collection of scary stories featuring locations across India. Some of the locations are well-known for their hauntings, such as Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan, Khooni Nala in Kashmir, and the Tower of Silence in Mumbai. Others are either fictional or nondescript towns and villages, but no less spooky.
I did not know there were so many different types of paranormal entitites — bhoota, preta, pishaacha, chudail, brahmarakshasa, and so on. The author has woven a story around every conceivable entity, and not all are malicious or evil. A few stories describe how the ghosts of dead people linger in their homes, evicting antisocial elements from the premises or protecting innocent people from harm.
I’ve read the preface but I’m not sure if some of these stories are indeed true or they’re so believable that even fiction seems real. Nevertheless, most of them feature a spine-chilling twist at the end. I could not read these stories at night because I’d start imagining all kinds of shadows and whispers and noises, ruining sleep completely.
I’m never going to look at abandoned homes, lonely roads, ruined historical structures, amaavasya nights, or hill stations the same way again.
The stories vary in quality and intensity of emotions, though. Some of the elements used to induce fear such as furniture being dragged on the empty floor above, knocking on the door, chudail with feet turned backwards have become cliched thanks to Hindi cinema. Stories in which such elements were used tended to be predictable and the climax fell flat.
However, some of the other stories where the chilling twist appears right at the end kept me riveted. Revenge-seeking ghosts are the scariest, especially when they have a demonic laugh. One particular story where an infant is visited by a ghost gave me goosebumps because I’ve always found the idea of possessed children particularly fearsome.
I have newfound respect for paranormal investigators because it takes a good amount of courage to not only enter haunted spaces but also stay back long enough to attempt contact with the undead. I don’t know if spirits can really manifest into tangible shape and communicate with the living but it’s scary to think that you could be possessed by an evil entity who makes you take action against your will.
I’m not even sure if I believe in ghosts. This is a recurring theme in many of the stories where the characters are staunchly against the concept of ghosts and hauntings, only to be proved wrong tragically when they are killed by an entity. Some characters can even see ghosts!
The relatability of the stories stems from the fact that many of the locations exist in real life; some of the characters are famous (e.g. Veerappan); some of the stories have been made into Hindi films (e.g. Stree); and all the regions and religions of India feature in the tales.
India’s Most Haunted is a good book for people who enjoy horror stories with a twist. Not-so-courageous people like me who still want to read horror should do so during the day–and sleep with a night light.
There are around 40 short stories and I’d recommend taking your time with the book, savoring a few each time instead of reading from start to finish in a single sitting.