A hotel that has a room believed to be so notoriously haunted that the staff refuses to rent it out anymore fearing that it would jeopardize the safety of the guest. They refuse entry to everyone who wants to stay in that particular room using phrases like, “No one could last an entire night in that room” or “We do not want to end up cleaning the mess in the morning”. All this sounds a little familiar? Yes, this is the plot of Stephen King’s famous novel 2012 which was later dramatized as a film of the same name. Am I referencing to the novel or the film here? The answer is no. I am talking about a small hotel in the small town of Lonavla that boasts of a similar supernatural experience. I am talking about the Raj Kiran Hotel.
It is strange how the concept of ghosts and evil spirits can give people sleepless nights but doesn’t scare them anymore when it means good money. Several hotels all over the world have a so-called “haunted” room which they refuse to rent out. Some hotels even offer a “Ghost Tour” of the hotel where the visitor can expect to come face to face with a supernatural force. There are hotels where there is no 13th floor and after 12th, it’s straight to the 14th floor. The only answer to the big “Why?” is either in money or a tale to boast about.
As per the myth, Raj Kiran hotel has a room which is home to a force that no one can see. This force, [call it an evil spirit, ghost, Jinn] has made this particular room its home. When a guest stays in this room, this evil force gets offended to find a stranger in its house and tries everything in its capability to scare them out. Some of the popular haunted instances are flying sheets, moving furniture, TV turning off and on even when the electrical supply is plugged out, strange noises, foul smells, guests getting slapped, strange lights, white apparitions etc, all of which we all see in every horror movie released. The result of all this should be the end of this hotel but interestingly, it runs like blood in its veins, keeping the hotel alive and flourishing.
When people go to a small town like Khandala or Lonavla, the only thing in their minds is to have a good time. Some relaxation, some adventure and some fresh air is all that they are looking for. Hill stations like these are crawling with people from plains, trying to beat the heat and there is an endless line of hotels to check in. People with money would always go for a good luxurious hotel but the middle class ones would always look for a smaller one, a reasonable priced hotel with a good view. Some people prefer a resort and if staying in one also means the adventure of supernatural, nothing beats it. There are tons of hotels in Lonavla but if someone goes looking for a Raj Kiran Hotel, the only reason is that they have heard of its infamous room.
Another interesting fact here is that it is the staff that will tell you the tall tales of how visitors have stayed here and had a hair-raising experience. Something like this should scare them out of their wits but they will tell you all the stories with a smile as if they are talking about their pet dog that just learnt the trick of shaking hands to impress people. If someone staying here doesn’t know about the ghost, they ensure that the he or she knows all about it by the time they check out so that they can spread out the word. Not many of us go back homes and talk good about the hotel we stayed in. We only talk about the amazing hill-station but the hotel room was just a place we stayed for a couple nights. But if this hotel means that we can boast about being brave enough to have stayed in a haunted hotel, we will be 100% sure to mention it to the next person and hence would attract more business for the hotel.
There are several hotels that literally survive on these stories. Hotel Savoy in Mussoorie is considered haunted and for a long time, before ITC took it over, the majority of the guests who have stayed here were the ghost-finding enthusiasts. Raj Kiran is just another addition to the list where even the staff [if you asked around all of them] will soon start contradicting their own stories. If you asked them which room is haunted, there is no definite answer. They will either say that they cannot tell you for your own safety or will just ignore the question. You will be told that the haunted room is never rented out but if looked around, you will find that all the rooms are occupied (yes, it happened). In the case of Savoy, there have been several mysterious deaths over past 100 years but no one has ever died in Raj Kiran yet is infamously popular as haunted.
And it is not only about the hotels, it is the visitors as well. On one hand, we would not dare to walk through a cemetery in middle of the night but on the other hand, we would go looking for a hotel to stay that is considered haunted. And when we come back empty handed, we start making stories of how we experienced supernatural and indirectly, sending more guests to the hotel. The hotel staff says that they have tried several methods to make the ghost leave but hey, why would anyone want a ghost who is bringing business to leave? He may be occupying one room but is paying the rent by helping to rent out all others.
The only note I would like to drop in the hotel’s suggestion box is, “Seriously guys? All this ghost talk and you had to borrow the ingredients from the movies? You could have at least come up with something original”