Originally published on May 20, 2012 on trulysu.blogspot.in
On our 6th day of the J&K tour we arrived in Srinagar and were put up in a hotel called Centaur. At first look it’s massive. It’s on the banks of the Dal lake, spread out on a humongous piece of land, nearby the shopping area and an upscale residential area. As we entered the gates I noticed lots of greenery, wild vegetation growing in place of a manicured lawn. About 150 mts into the gate we approached a gigantic building with chipped paint at places and moss growing on walls. We entered a wide lobby stretching end to end and beyond that we saw a magical view of the Dal lake.
Once we got our room keys we all started our trek to find our rooms. Now we had to find our room among 250 rooms. The inside of the hotel was like a maze and when I was walking the halls I felt like I was in a university. There are probably some 10 wings in this hotel. Ma changed my room from near to civilisation to a room in a godforsaken wing. And we were the only 2 guests who were sent there. Room 3014.
Just that morning I was watching a horror movie on tv starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. I didn’t register the name. Anyway, that movie had a serial killer hunting a party of teenage kids who were on the island on vacation. That’s EXACTLY what I anticipated when I approached room 3014. As it is I was freaked on top of which we weren’t able to find the lights in the room. Curtains drawn shut, lights not on, tv not switching on; imagine the looks on my brother’s and my faces. For lack of connectivity I started playing on the iPad while my brother left me alone to find the tv technician (yes, my brother’s priorities are set in stone). I sat like that for close to an hour. Our luggage hadn’t even arrived then and I couldn’t leave the room since my brother was gone. For lack of anything to do I started working on my Faceversary blog series. I was completely lost in writing when I heard a door bang. I thought maybe they moved another of my group’s family to this wing and I got out to see who it was only to find that mine was the last room in the corridor and the neighbouring room was locked. Ok now I was officially creeped out. But I had enough lessons in psychology and L&D sessions to rationalise the noise. I went back to my room and started thinking of logical reasons for that noise. A little later my brother came back and told me he couldn’t find our parents. About 15 mins later a door started banging continuously which went on for a few minutes. For all the pride my brother & I take in belonging to the Kshatriya class we were complete chickens to check out what was happening. Once the banging stopped we walked out to find out which room was the source only to find nothing.
When we went back my brother tightened the cable and we had tv to entertain us. Oh and what were we watching? The Ring. Yeah, good choice right. Our luggage was finally delivered by an old man who could barely walk without dragging his feet. We asked him if there were any guests in the neighbouring rooms; he said no. We asked what were these locked rooms; he said these are old rooms that have some discarded furniture and junk. So the big question was, where was the noise coming from? A couple of hours later we left to go shopping and told Ma that this room was way too far from everyone else’s and we weren’t comfortable. After we came back from shopping we got the room changed to one that was less creepy (By then I had realised that the whole hotel was creepy). But we still had to go back to get our luggage so the old man came along with us. I asked him if there was any story or history of this place and he started narrating a story that made me grab my luggage and run to my new room.
“This hotel was built in the 1930s when the British still ruled. Because of the beauty of Kashmir it attracted lots of Dukes & Duchess used to stay here when they came to visit. During the freedom struggle a group of Kashmiri freedom fighters mercilessly shot all of them. After a few decades it was reopened only to be used again as a military base during the Kargil war. This hotel has seen many deaths, lots of bloodshed, independence & wars”.