Indian monsoons in 2011 were fortunately on time and weather was really very cool and pleasant, a relief from the hot and dusty summers in Pune. Lonavala is a hill station around 90 kms from Pune and is a haven for tourists especially during this time of the year. The lush green valleys with streams flowing make the environment particularly scenic. There are also some old Buddhist Caves like Karla, Bedse caves which have a lot of historical significance. Trekkers can undertake treks to some of the nearby forts like Rajmachi, Lohgad, Visapur and Tikona to enjoy the pleasant weather and feel close to nature.
My contact with Lonavala has been since the eighties when my father worked with Tata Power Co. For around five years. We had the biggest bungalow in the entire Tata residential colony. Built in the colonial style architecture, it was a sprawling two thousand square feet bungalow with a beautiful lawn in front of the house and an outhouse (servants quarters) behind it. The people there were a friendly lot and I have fond memories of the place. It is also the place where I had my initial experiences with the paranormal. These are mentioned in my earlier stories namely The Frail Old Man & The Restless Pathan. Though quite unnerving, the place is still very close to my heart and I make it a point to visit it a few times every year.
In July, my wife and I were planning to spend the weekend lazing around the house after a hectic week in office. At around 6 pm on Friday, we received a call from my cousin Parag (mentioned in my earlier stories) . He still lives in Lonavala and is associated with the hospitality industry. I was surprised to hear from him after such a long time. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he came straight to the point. He was currently helping his friend in developing an old property in Lonavala into a resort. The resort was to open in a couple of weeks and he wanted me to come over and spend a day over there with him. The offer seemed quite enticing because of the cool weather and the rains in Lonavala.
My wife and I immediately packed our things and started off for Lonavala which is an hours drive from my place. We reached the yet to be opened resort at around 8.30pm and were warmly greeted by Parag. It was raining very heavily at that time & hot tea along with piping hot bhajiyas offered to us were more than willingly gobbled up quickly by us.
Parag told us that the work at the resort was nearly complete with only some finishing touches remaining. Since it was raining heavily since afternoon he had given the workers, the rest of the day off with a promise that they would return early the next day. He then proceeded to show us the resort which was indeed very tastefully decorated. There was an air of nostalgia to the whole decor as if it was a place designed during the British Colonial era. When I mentioned this to Parag, he told me that it was indeed a Guest house built for the British Guests in the early 30s and he had tried his best to retain the same old world charm without disturbing too much of the original architecture.
The highlight of the resort were three heritage suites, one of which was offered to us for the night. My wife and I were really thrilled at the thought of the idea of reliving the bygone era. We soon began chatting with Parag about old times and our earlier paranormal adventures that we didn't realize how quickly the time had passed. After a nice hot dinner served by the resort staff we slowly retired to our own rooms for the night. It was well past midnight by then.
At around 3.00 am, I heard a faint knock on the door. I found my wife sleeping soundly beside me. I decided to ignore it at first thinking that it might be some sound coming from the lawns outside and go to sleep. After fifteen minutes or so I again heard the faint knocking sound on my door. This time I was absolutely sure that someone had knocked the door. Not wanting to disturb my wife, I slowly got out of my bed and opened the door. To my surprise there was no one outside. But then I suddenly felt someone push me and enter the room. I felt really scared at the turn of events. Quickly getting a grip of myself, I immediately shut the door and tip toed back to bed and went back to sleep. I couldn't sleep a wink after that incident and the room felt colder than it was before I opened the door. Fortunately nothing else happened that night.
During breakfast the next morning, I casually brought out this subject to Parag and was surprised to find that I wasn't the first person to have experienced it. He told me that a couple of weeks back a friend and his wife who had come over had been put up in the same room. They too had experienced the knocks on the door and the chill inside the room subsequently.
Having experienced two such occurrences before this, both of us were naturally excited. We decided to investigate the matter and bring it to a logical conclusion before the opening ceremony of the resort.
My wife was still blissfully unaware of my previous nights encounter and we decided to keep it that way.
Parag made up an excuse that he needed me for some work at the resort, we sent her to Parag's house which is quite near to the place. It was Saturday morning and we only had one day to investigate the matter as I had to return by Sunday evening.
We decided quickly to look into the old document archives which were kept in the store room to get an idea as to who had owned this place previously. We found out that in the early 30s, the place was owned by a British gentleman by the the name of John Scott who ran a small guest house for British Army officers who used to visit the place. He used to run the place along with his wife. We also found an old paper cutting which Read as follows "Mysterious disappearance of Guest House Owner and Wife".The police had closed the case as unsolved.
We also found out that the guest house lay unused until India's independence & was then auctioned off. Surprisingly none of the previous owners had demolished the old guest house until Parag's friend bought the place and decided to redevelop it. There was an old photograph of Mr & Mrs Scott standing outside one of the rooms. Upon close observation, it was clear to us that it was the same room which we were sleeping the night before.
The questions before us were as follows:
If it was a spirit, why was it knocking the door?
What was there inside the room which it was looking for?
It was around 2.00pm by that time and Parag took a call that we should go inside the room and try to search the room for any clues. Parag told me that he had especially instructed his workers not to damage anything inside these heritage suites so that they retained the same old charm of the Colonial era. We searched the place carefully but were unable to find anything there. Finally at our wits end, we decided to call off the search and spend the night there. This was our last resort in trying to determine the strange occurrences in that room.
I called up my wife and told her that our work at the resort wasn't over and told her to spend the night at Parag's place with his wife and parents. She suspected that something was amiss but fortunately didn't try to probe too deep in the matter.
We decided to have dinner at around 9.00pm and then wait in the room for the rest of the night. We sat in the room chatting for sometime and then both of us started feeling sleepy. I do not know when we both dozed off until the time I suddenly woke up to a knock on the door. I was alert and immediately woke up Parag.
We also noticed that the whole room was dark, perhaps due to a power cut in the area which is common in these parts. We had prepared ourselves for this eventuality and had armed ourselves with lanterns, candles and a couple of sticks, just in case they were required. The candles and lantern were kept inside the room in such a way that they illuminated the room to some extent.
Now, the big question was... Who would open the door? After my eerie experience the previous night, I flatly refused. Parag, being the brave one had to muster up courage and decided to open the door. I then chanced upon a rope lying in one of the corner of the room. We decided to tie the rope to the handle of the door, Parag would open the latch and quickly come back to the corner of the room where I would be sitting with the rope in my hand and slowly pull the door open. This would help us see clearly as to what happened after the door opened. Around 15 minutes had passed since the first knock and it happened again. There was a second knock on the door, this time a bit harder than the first. As planned Parag opened the latch and return to the corner of the room where I was sitting with the rope in my hand. I slowly tugged the rope and the door creaked open.
There was absolute pin drop silence outside and both of us shuddered to think as to what would happen next. We then heard the noise of someone walking and stepping the room though we couldn't see anyone. Then something unexpected happened, in candle light we could see two shadows slowly forming on the floor. One shadow was that of a man and other was a woman.
Both Parag and I were absolutely petrified but somehow didn't lose control of ourselves.
The two shadows slowly made their way into the bath room. We followed quietly behind them with a lantern in our hand. The shadows went up to a bathtub placed at the far end of the bathroom. The shadows were still for sometime at that place before disappearing into thin air. For the entire duration since we opened the door, the temperature inside was very chilly and cold. After the two shadows left us, the temperature started returning to normal.
Both of us were scared and it took us around half an hour to come to terms with what we had seen. It was clear to us that the spirits weren't trying to harm us. What were they trying to do then, was the question before us. It then occurred to us that perhaps the spirits were trying to tell us something. Parag had this idea that since they had led us to the bathroom, there might be something there which might give us a clue.
Parag arranged for some workers the next morning and had them dig the bathroom section of the room. In the process of doing so the bath tub was also removed and dug up. And there it was the answer which we were so desperately looking for. There were 2 skeletons, one of a man and the other of a woman piled one above the other right beneath the place where the bath tub was kept. The spirits had led us right to their final resting place.
Parag's friend arrived at site and was informed of the previous nights events. He was very cooperative and informed the police immediately. The forensics determined that the skeletons were at least seventy to eighty years old which coincided with the time when the Scotts had disappeared.
Since there was nothing much to persue since this was something which had happened a long time ago, the police closed the matter under unsolved cases. Parags friend was happy that this was discovered before the resort had officially opened its doors to tourists. The bathroom was duely repaired and the room once again restored to its original charming self.
But what had happened to the Scotts is still unknown. It might have been someone close to the Scotts who might have been the perpetrator of the crime, judging by the way the crime was committed and the bodies neatly concealed for nearly a century. Who did it will be an unsolved mystery forever. Whatever the case, the remains were taken to a graveyard and given a proper burial.
Another thing that puzzles me to this date is that I did not see any shadow's on the first night, nor did Parags other friend who happened to be there. What made the shadows appear on the second night is something which still intrigues me to this day.
As for my wife, she was surprised and a little annoyed at not being told of our adventure in the beginning itself. But she has eventually forgiven me.
I checked on Parag around a month after the resort opened. There was no untoward incident which was reported after the bodies were taken from there and buried. Perhaps this was what was required to put the two restless spirits to rest.