The Wodeyar Summer Palace, Chamandi hills
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
It was in the 1820s, when Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III decided to name the summer palace for the Wodeyar lineage.
There was a reason behind it, a secret. He wished his sons and grandsons spend their time learning about Philosophy in this palace.
But something went terribly wrong. He then decided to renovate the Chamundeshwari Temple near the palace. It kept things in control according to him.
His diary mentioned about restricting access to the Wodeyar Summer Palace. But these notes lost their way through time…
The Wodeyar Summer Palace, Chamandi hills
The corporate business team had their team offsite at Mysore in May 2019. Many key employees traveled to the grand Mysore campus, from distant places.
Sumit Singh was one of them. A smile flowered on his face as soon as he reached Mysore, after ages – he had reached his hometown. Many memories trickled into focus as Sumit traveled through the city in his SUV.
Sumit soon met many colleagues who now could associate his name with his strong personality. He soon made a group of friends amongst them – Vivek, Sanjay, Pratik, Kabir and Dilpreet.
It was on that fateful day, an idea occurred to him – it’d be a fun trip late night at Chamandi hills, which was nearby. He could relive the memories once again and enjoy the beautifully lighted view of the Mysore city atop Chamandi hills.
Sumit knew about the haunted stories of Chamandi hills, he had heard about wild animals too – leopards, bears and boars. As he drove, he started sharing these stories with the group.
He could hear the rattling dagger in the dashboard. There was also a slight sound of the baseball bat hitting the far end of the boot as they climbed the hills. He had done this before without using those weapons and it had been enjoyable for everyone.
Sumit noticed his watch as the dial glowed and beeped once. It read 01:00 and he converted his glance back to focus on the road. A smile appeared on his face with a feeling of triumph when he recollected the last few hours – he was able to convince the five colleagues, who were friends by now, to join the late night travel.
Sanjay was hesitant, but he could pull him in as the others were eager to spend their time together and would just not accept any bailouts. Vivek and Dilpreet were enthusiastic while Kabir and Pratik doubted their decision after hearing about the ghost stories.
Even though it was already late into the night, they felt the surroundings becoming darker as Sumit continued his story.
“This place we are going to, it's said that the hotel is haunted.”
“But I thought it was a heritage property…” Sanjay looked at Sumit shift the gears and the car raced through the night.
“It was, but it was sold to the ITC for making it a hotel. It has been tried for so many times, over decades. But no one could pull it off.” Sumit applied a light pressure on the brake as he heard Dilpreet’s voice behind him.
“That is what Google says too. It is going to be fun!”
There was silence in their discussion as the friends absorbed the facts.
Kabir looked at Pratik in apprehension when Pratik pointed to his phone and mentioned that they have the Hanuman chalisa. Vivek smiled as he heard them talk and put his hand outside the window to enjoy the breeze. He also relived many memories of his time in Mysore.
The lonely SUV started climbing enroute the curvy roads leading towards the Chamandi hill top. Sumit applied the brakes hard and everyone jolted! There was an unmanned blockade.
Sumit stepped out cautiously and signalled to Sanjay.
He later realised he hadn’t mentioned to anyone about the dagger or the baseball bat. Sanjay stepped next to him in an attempt to clear the blockade.
Vivek noticed them move ahead but heard footsteps nearby which didn’t make sense to him. Before he realised, something latched to his arm outside the car! On the other side Kabir was taken aback as a man’s face appeared all of a sudden glued to the window.
The men on patrol asked all of them to step out of the vehicle. Sumit was already there and was talking to these men.
He explained about their travel in the local language and the men warned him about their adventure. This was not the time to visit the temple as the place lurked with wild animals.
The men retreated to the nearby shelter from where they kept a watch on the road. Sumit guided his friends towards a spectacle of his times, although he knew that the best memories would be at the hill top.
Dilpreet and Pratik observed the view from the top - they were breath-taken. The glowing Mysore city was highlighted by the mesmerising Mysore palace and the lighted highway nearby. Dilpreet started capturing these memories with his phone before stepping in the last row of the SUV.
“What was all that about?” Vivek did not expect the unpleasant surprise.
“They were warning us against going atop…” Sumit focused on the remaining drive. The headlights made the surroundings surreal.
“Sumit… why are we visiting the ghosts again?” Kabir wanted them to go back.
“Ghosts? They were warning us about wild animals, Kabir. I have done this before guys, so need not worry. I have a bat that we will carry.” Sumit chose to be silent about the dagger. He would not hand it to anyone else.
“Sumit, ghosts do not worry me. But animals are a real threat.” Sanjay pitched in.
Sanjay sensed the confidence in the mysterious answer and got the point.
“By the way, what animals are found here?” Pratik chipped in inquisitively.
“I have heard of leopards, boars and bears…” Vivek put a hand on Pratik’s shoulder.
“There are no recent spotting but we will take care.” Sumit turned the SUV and slowed down. They had reached.
A 30 foot asura statue was guarding the temple entrance with his mighty sword. It is said that the goddess of the temple could control demonic powers or powers from other realms.The statue kept such powers at bay.
The friends marvelled at various sculptures near the temple - the statue, the entrance and the carvings on the temple structure itself.
Sumit led the group away from the temple to another path. This was the start of their journey to a nearby hill top where the palace resided.
They reached the boundary of the temple yard where a tea vendor asked them for tea. He believed them to be resident temple visitors. But when they went past him, he was alarmed.
He ran towards the group and warned them not to venture into the restricted area. Sumit and Vivek were able to convince him and moved past the tea stall. Sumit had the bat in his hand and the dagger tucked into his waist.
It was pitch dark as Pratik and Vivek turned their phone flash lights to pave the way uphill. Sumit handed the baseball bat to Sanjay and held the dagger as they led the group.
Dilpreet and Kabir were tailing as they heard the leaves crushing under the feet of their friends ahead of them.
There were bushes and forest on either side of the granule path. It was so dark that even after their eyes adjusted to it, they could still see nothing apart from the flash-lit path ahead. The tree cover refrained themselves to allow moonlight to enter below them.
The breeze caused a rustle nearby as if the trees were talking to each other in the darkness.
Sanjay stopped suddenly and Sumit pointed his hand asking for the flashlight in that direction. There was a hustle in the bush a few meters ahead of them.
A hare came running towards them and jumped past Kabir’s leg to the other side. The hare made Kabir jump as he noticed the wetness on his jean. The injury had caused the hare to bleed. In a while, he could hear the squeal of the hare which died in an instant. Someone or something had a successful hunt.
Sumit was surprised too. This was the first time he ever saw an animal in this area. Maybe things had changed over years. He asked all of them to be close and noticed Sanjay tighten the grip on the bat.
The cold breeze sent a shiver through both Pratik and Kabir.
“Guys, I think we should go back” Kabir finally let courage astray and gave his honest opinion. He recollected his discussion with Sumit and Pratik in the office campus.
“I think it’s too late for that now Kabir” Pratik noticed his phone had no network. So he began reciting the chalisa as he remembered it. Kabir also pitched in.
Sanjay turned around. “What is wrong with you two? The noise will attract the carnivores in the area!”
“It is easy to say that and feel safe with the bat in your hand…”
Sanjay kept quiet. He did not understand why they were scared of ghosts when leopards or bears seemed a more probable threat at the time. They were doing everything possible to attract attention, even if it was a ghost.
Dilpreet nudged Pratik, asking him to pray softly as it was difficult to focus even when they were barely treading ahead.
Sumit could not hear Sanjay treading next to him even when his senses were heightened. He too got goosebumps along with the others. It was very unlike him as he switched the dagger grip and cleared his thoughts.
A sudden movement next to him made him stop.
Sanjay had turned behind as one of the flashlights gave up. He sensed the friends closing up to him and handed the bat to Kabir, while still leading the path with Sumit. He prayed within too, for not encountering a leopard or a bear.
“My phone won’t last for long either” Vivek placed his hand on Sumit’s shoulder. This was not turning out to be a fun trip as planned.
The journey in the darkness had the adrenaline pumping for all the friends as they realised the difference between imagination of a scene versus being a part of one.
In a while, they stood outside a huge and rusted gate which was locked. Sumit could not recollect this gate and blamed his memories for it.
Climbing over it would not be easy for everyone with their varied shapes and sizes. He hadn’t planned for an adventure with injuries and hence requested Vivek to search for other ways.
The rusted lock glistened as parts of it reflected the flashlight. Even after ages, it was sturdy as it thwarted outsiders to put an end to their journey here.
The gate itself seemed heavy to move and stood tall with inscriptions on its sides which were difficult to read without sunlight. It held two pillars at its sides tightly.
Pratik noticed the bent hinges on the left and the broken bricks. Someone had made a failed attempt and tried prying through the gate. He ventured a few meters ahead and noticed a way through!
There were no walls bounding the area apart from the trees. Maybe the same person dug a way for crossing the gated area.
Sumit smiled as he recollected his memories. He patted on Pratik’s back and helped the friends enter the other side. He sensed something different this time around but chose to be silent as the others looked up to him and his fear would put them astray.
They had reached the hill top.
There was a cliff which provided an unobstructed panoramic view of the city below. The view was so pleasing that it subdued the fear and replaced it with solitude.
The cool breeze accentuated the feeling and suddenly all of them were happy to have made this far.
Dilpreet and Sanjay clicked many photos with the dark yet starry sky and eager city lights which made their way in the frame. The lights were flickering from their view point.
Kabir thanked Sumit for hosting them here. All of them had a hearty time and decided to go back with their satisfaction of a marvellous night.
Hidden in plain sight was the ruins in which a building stood strong. It was the Wodeyar Palace. It watched the friends make merry and stood still, in the same way it had stood from the day of its inception in 1823.
On their way back, the friends faced the palace. It looked more like a ruined hotel plan to them. The building was multi-storeyed and seemed incomplete beyond five floors.
There were many windows and balconies on each floor. Any design which the building would have tried to flaunt was not visible in the night.
Creepers and moss ensured that what stayed inside, was not visible to the outside world.
“Sumit, is this the haunted palace?” Dilpreet stepped towards it trying to challenge the building.
“This is as the stories say…” Sumit stepped ahead to stop Dilpreet from venturing further. It was time to go.
Pratik, Vivek and Kabir did not follow Dilpreet and asked Sanjay to be with them.
There was no visible door blocking the entry to the palace. The blocked gate did not make sense to the friends.
Dilpreet was hypnotised by the palace for while. He shook his head and turned back only to notice that there was no one around. It did not make sense to him. The starry sky seemed closer and the moon shined in its entirety.
The clouds soon hid the moon but the moonlight transitioned itself to move over Dilpreet, making him turn again towards the palace.
His jaw gaped when he noticed the palace glow from within. He could hear the hustle inside and then a boy stepped outside towards him, a child. He held Dilpreet’s hand and looked at him in the eye.
The child had no eyes! Dilpreet shouted and noticed that there was no one holding him. But there was a boy at the entrance of the palace. It was as if Dilpreet saw a very young version of himself.
The boy teased Dilpreet and ran inside the palace. He knew the smile, he knew that naughtiness. It was undoubtedly Dilpreet but a child! Dilpreet heard the boy laughing as the voice echoed outside the lighted palace.
It was instinct, which made him run after the boy!
Sumit cursed himself as he ran behind Dilpreet. He seemed oblivious to his voice and shouted when he held his hand.
Kabir’s hands covered his face in disbelief. He looked at Pratik, Vivek and Sanjay who were no longer smiling as they noticed their friends disappear into the palace.
Vivek looked around himself. He felt darkness surrounding him and creeping over his soul. The palace seemed to be the only way out.
“We must go inside, hope you understand.” Vivek started walking towards the palace in a disoriented manner.
“This is the end for us it seems… It is the end… the end…” Kabir kept repeating as Pratik followed Vivek and went inside. Pratik was hypnotised too.
“Kabir. If it is the end then be it. We need to go in and get them back.”
Kabir noticed Sanjay waiting for him. It felt as if the world was calling for him. The palace was calling for them. He held the bat firmly and treaded towards the palace.
The clouds moved past and the sky reaffirmed its position with the moon. The darkness had drifted away and the lights faded from the palace. There was no trace of anyone and it breathed silently, again, throughout the night. For there were many nights to come.
The chase seemed endless for Dilpreet. He bent as he was still looking ahead at the boy. He regained his breath and ran again. Dilpreet could vividly recollect his childhood, he imagined running around his house and playing with his parents. He missed them and wanted to live that life again.
He felt as if someone took this life away from him as his hand reached towards it in a desperate attempt to catch hold of his life and earn his freedom.
It took him a while to notice that his hand went outside an elongated window frame. He looked a few floors below and noticed the boy smiling at him.
“Who are you?” Dilpreet remembered shouting out to his friends from his house. He wished to join them and play.
“Don’t you want to join us? We will play and have fun…”
“Just jump and come here, you will be free.”
The mystery in the boy’s voice kept Dilpreet hypnotised.
“Will I really get freedom? Can I break free?” Tears started rolling off Dilpreet’s face.
“Yes.” The boys voice felt like a soothing whisper to his ears asserting him to take the plunge.
Dilpreet closed his eyes and took a few steps ahead… he opened his arms and speared towards freedom. The bad dream had ended and he became free.
Sumit heard someone run above him in the corridor. He had given up his search for Dilpreet as he couldn’t find him. He noticed the moonlight reflect from the tiled flooring. The pattern on the floor started revolving and dazed Sumit which made him wobble and fall down. He hit his head hard.
After a while, a hand reached out and helped Sumit on his feet. Sumit glanced at the girl who helped him.
“What are you doing here?” Sumit managed to mumble a few words.
“I am here to help you father. I heard you came back home. How could I not have come?” The girl smiled.
Sumit felt at peace and smiled as he limped towards the palace entrance. Nothing made sense to him but he was glad that his daughter was here. Seeing her put his soul at peace.
There was a screeching sound at a distance in the hallway. Sumit somehow knew it was danger and asked his daughter to run away. She just wouldn’t let him go.
From the corner, emerged an enormous man as he dragged a mattock alongside him. It made a screeching noise as the metal fought with the floor. He lifted the mattock and hit it on the wall near Sumit and pointed to him.
Sumit shouted and pulled out his dagger as he noticed his daughter move ahead to tackle the savage being. He cried and called her back.
The man dodged the feeble attempts and held the girl in one hand and the mattock in the other, ready to strike her down.
“Nooo… Wait you bastard!” He noticed the man looking at him. “Let her go and fight me like a man!” Sumit made a failed attempt to intimidate the man with his tiny dagger against the bloodthirsty mattock.
The man did not move. Sumit heard his daughter scream. He couldn’t take it anymore.
“What do you want? Please spare her. I will do anything you ask!” Sumit had given up.
The man let his daughter go and blocked her from running. He raised his finger again and made a sign to Sumit.
It was his life for hers. He was more than happy and had a smile on his face as he reversed the dagger and plunged it within… as hard as he could. He noticed the man disappear and he smiled at his daughter before closing his eyes.
The palace entrance led to the royal court which had an inviting and large stairway to the above rooms, courtyards, halls, libraries and the terraces. Sanjay observed the chandelier in the royal court.
The candles were emitting blue flames which turned red as soon as Sanjay focused towards them. He still felt dizzy and was not in control of himself when he looked into the flame.
Something within reminded him to search for his friends. He climbed the stairway to the hall above and immediately noticed Sumit at a distance. Sumit seemed to lay still in a puddle of his own blood.
Sanjay ran towards Sumit who still seemed to be breathing. He started crying helplessly as he held Sumit’s body. He called for help around him as he noticed the hallway. There was no one nearby. He looked at the entrance which was now locked with wooden doors. The hallway was completely lit and towards the far end was a white door which called out to him.
Sanjay lifted his friend and carried him to the white door. It seemed like the only way out of this mess. He was desperately searching for anyone or anything that would help Sumit, but he was bleeding fast as the base of the dagger seemed attached to Sumit’s body.
He opened the white door and walked inside.
The room was well lit. There was a circular wooden table in the centre and it had a bottle of water. Sanjay noticed a boy drawing on the walls. He called out to the boy for help. The boy came running towards them.
“You should drink this…” He held the bottle and offered it to Sumit and Sanjay.
“This is not water.” Sanjay tasted it after Sumit gulped it down and tried it again. “Who are you? Can you get help for us?” Sanjay felt light headed.
“I am Rajeshwar Rao Wodeyar. I have already helped you actually by making you drink this.” The boy stood silently. They were in the white room. It was the same room were many generations of people had committed suicide by consuming poison. Rajeshwar was one of them. The palace made him do it and he achieved peace.
Suddenly the room was filled with dead people and all of them were staring at Sanjay. Sanjay closed his eyes as he heard the boy asking them to be calm. He mentioned that the friends would join them soon. There was a sharp pain in the stomach and both the friends fell deep asleep.
Kabir did not have the courage to climb the stairway. He did not understand what was going on. But somehow he started feeling angry. Kabir had become impatient. A part of him wished to stay here.
He was near the entrance and saw the man with the mattock guarding the white door. He noticed Kabir and came towards him to mow him down.
Kabir couldn’t take any of it and lost control over himself. He swinged the baseball bat at the man like a hammer. He noticed the mattock fall on the ground and Kabir became wild. He climbed on the man and kept hitting his head repeatedly with the baseball bat. It was too late to realise that there was no man with the mattock at the entrance.
It took sometime for Kabir to understand that it was over. He was exhausted and fell on the ground. His hands let go of the grip automatically. The bat oscillated to and fro before it stationed itself next to Kabir. He took a last look at his hands which carried his own blood.
The bat carried his own blood. As his body gave up, Kabir realised that he had injured his head with the baseball bat. He closed his eyes and let go.
Pratik was on a higher floor when he noticed Vivek reach the terrace. He noticed the same white door on this floor too and ran towards it. He was sure it would take him outside the palace. He stepped in and drank the water instinctively. To his disbelief, he was right. Pratik had somehow reached the entrance and he carried a lock and a mattock with him this time.
He had no clue how he got them but was happy to escape the palace.
He would go out and get help to rescue others. Pratik ran outside the gate to notice that it was open. He instinctively locked the gate with the lock he carried and carried the mattock and went ahead.
Vivek reached the terrace and saw his mother standing there. She just looked at him and smiled.
“I am proud of you my son. You are a good man.”
Vivek’s eyes watered and he walked towards his mother and held her hand. She looked at him and started walking. They were talking for a long time as they neared the edge… and walked in thin air.
The palace breathed heavily. The night was over for the friends. They were now at peace forever.
Pratik reached the gate of the hills but could not move beyond. Something stopped him from venturing to the other side. He tried a lot but could not go back to their SUV. His phone was not working either.
He still had the mattock and chose to come back to the palace and make a final rescue attempt. On his way, he heard a few people walking on the path and decided to observe them from a distance. He stood behind the trees, trying to see who the ghosts were.
Suddenly, a hare came out of nowhere and jumped over Pratik, who instinctively swinged the mattock. He could hear the hare squeal as life was sucked from it in an instant. He felt sorry for it and tried to revive the hare by nudging it. It was too late. He looked up to check on the ghosts and couldn’t hear anyone, so he came out and continued walking to save his friends.
On his way inside, the gate was locked, so he dug a way out after trying to break the pillar, which anchored the gate. He could hear the ghosts approaching the gate and moved quickly towards the palace.
He entered the palace and noticed the white door. Pratik ran towards it and opened it. What he saw made his jaw gape. All his friends were laying there. He could notice his body too…
All of them disappeared in a while.
Pratik threw the mattock and sighed as he walked back towards the entrance. He noticed the boy next to him who held his hand.
“Don’t be sad. You re immortal here once you die.”
Pratik was surprised but ran out of words.
“See… we did not invite you here. You came on your own… It’s ok now… you are like us.”
The boy smiled and walked away.
Pratik noticed all his friends in the hallway - Sumit, Kabir, Sanjay, Vivek and Dilpreet. They waved at him and asked him to join them.
The palace gave them a new life after making the friends commit suicide. All his power came from many white rooms all over the palace. The summer palace was cursed and the temple kept these powers from spreading outside.
Hope you enjoyed the story. This blog is unedited work so pardon me for any critic on the language. Please share it with your friends and family.
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