Having earned a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the country, Bhangarh Fort in Alwar, Rajasthan, has been a sought-after destination for brave-hearted travellers. They often come back with stories of “weird things” and “a heaviness in the air”. We went there, with a torch and an old-fashioned lantern to help beat the pitch darkness. Laser light directed us to the fort’s gate. Once in, we were assailed by mutilated limbs falling from the ceiling and bats flapping above us. Except, we did this in one hour and without leaving Gurugram, near Delhi. The secret was an escape room named “A Night at Bhangarh – The Mystery of a Cursed Fort” at a new experiential outlet, called Mystery Rooms.
Bhangarh Fort is one of the many experiences of Mystery Rooms, which has 17 branches across the country, including in Mumbai, Goa, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Chennai. “The Kon of Kohinoor — A Mission Impossible” is another theme. Attendees step into the shoes of thieves and help steal the Kohinoor from a British museum. Mystery Rooms’ first outlet opened in Rajouri Garden in Delhi four years ago and its latest offering is in Noida. Sapna Bhutani, one of its three directors, says, “When we watch movies and see the actor playing the thief’s role, somewhere we imagine what would it feel like to try this. We let people experience this in reality. This is a real-life escape experience. It is the live version of the online escape room games that are quite popular and is a great way to connect with the youth of this generation.” Apart from groups of friends and families, she informs how corporate houses often send employees on team-building exercises.
After a fist fight with rods in a glass box, we try to grab the key to the entrance gate of Bhangarh Fort. An LCD screen ticks with clues about our next move. Assured that there is someone keeping watch from the organiser’s team, our team of three is directed to jump into a tiny adjacent room, where we discover a black box with numbers. The group soon makes its way into another room, and uncovers the keys to the entrance of an underground basement.
The mystery room on Bhangarh also alludes to the legend of princess Ratnavati. Her portrait stares at us in a room as we desperately try to find our way out. The text on the walls reveals that a tantrik, who was enamoured of Ratnavati’s beauty, cast a spell on her perfume so that she would fall in love with him. On finding out about this, the princess threw the bottle on the floor and the tantric cursed her family before his death. Resting on a slab is her pearl jewellery along with fine jootis, while a cupboard hides her dupatta and other clothing. A logical-reasoning puzzle, taught to Class X students, was spread across the entire area and cracking this code could have led us to freedom. We failed miserably. A helper rescued us at the end of the hour.
The Connaught Place outlet of Mystery Rooms, in Delhi, opens next month. One of the rooms will be themed around The Hangover. The prospect of not having any memory of last night’s bachelor party, and yet trying to make it to a wedding with clues left from the night before sounds like a rather interesting escape plan.
Contact: http://www.mysteryrooms.in; Entry: Rs 1,800 for a group of three