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Bhangarh, Alwar

India's insider take:

Think of this little-known collection of ruins as Machu Picchu without the crowds. Once a town of 10,000 souls, it was supposedly abandoned almost overnight under mysterious circumstances many centuries ago. On the road from Jaipur to Alwar, 15 minutes south of the luxury resort Amanbagh, virtually the only thing known for sure about these ruins of palaces, temples, bathing pools, and shops is that that they were built in the 1630s by the younger brother of a renowned general and deserted a short time later. Locals call the town "Bhangarh of Ghosts" and won't visit after dark; according to legend, the desertion had to do with an evil magician who cursed a virtuous queen when she wouldn't succumb to his advances. Whatever the history, it makes for a good afternoon.

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