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'Ghost House' gone: Bhopal's historic Bhoot Bungalow demolished, legends survive

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: Bhoot Bungalow, the famous building in Bhopal which was believed by many to be a haunted place, was finally razed to ground.

The decision was taken by Bhopal mayor and the historic building that was lying abandoned for years, was completely demolished.

The civic authorities' demolition drive had first begun on Tuesday and was halted but a day later, it was resumed and the structure was bulldozed on Wednesday.

In Bhopal, there were many myths and legends associated with the building--once known as Wahid Manzil. As it was abandoned for years, it was considered haunted.

Octagenarian Akhtar Husain, who has authored a book on Bhopal's history, told media persons that as it was an art deco bunglaow located on Lalghati, in the base of Idgah Hills, the sounds heard in the building due to the winds, seemed spooky.

Maulana Azad's sisters had stayed here in the past. Many functions were held here and the last ruler of Bhopal state, Nawab Hamidullah Khan, used to visit this bungalow.

When vehicled passed by, the sound echoed due to hills and the acoustics-architecture of bunglow, the sounds seemed strange. Hence, the place came to be known as Bhoot Bungalow among residents. In 1930, the then King of Nepal had also arrived here to attend a function.

Bollywood actors of yesteryear, stayed here. The criminal incidents--several murders in the last couple of decades, added to the notoriety. The building, an architectural marvel, was bought by Seth Chhagan Lal in an auction.

But they also shifted because it was slightly in the outskirts of Bhopal. The vegetation, the sounds (also of animals in the area), made the family members uncomfortable. It was much later that Bhopal expanded beyond the bungalow.

Priced at Rs 73 crore, this building was currently owned by late Seth's kin. His family members were initially opposed to the administration's plan to raze it. Seth's heir Santosh Agarwal was unhappy with the decisin but had to give in.

Government officials justified the decision, which was termed arbitrary by many. The buiding couldn't be restored as it required assent of all the descendants of Seth Chhaganlal. After demolition, it is just a piece of land, that can now be divided (or sold) more easily.

The officials said that the building had become a den for drug-addicts and there was a clause under which such a structure which can cause risk to public lives and safety, can be demolished. However, with the Bhoot Bungalow's demolition, city's history is the loser though legends will survive. 

[Photo: Sameer Khan]