Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Phantom of Shibpur

The Bengal Engineering College at Shibpur is one of the oldest Engineering institutions in India. Established in 1856, it started with a Civil Engineering department to supply engineers to the Public Works Department of British India. In 1880, it moved to its current location and became the Bishop’s College, Howrah.

Like most public educational institutions of that era, the college boasts of a vast and lush campus; roads thronged by deodar and palms, pristine pools and colonial style buildings lend a unique aura to this campus. In 1999, when I was an architecture freshman, it also happened to be the only and closest seat of an architecture department [other than our college, that is] in our state. As is the norm, there was a lot of interaction and healthy rivalry between our college and BEC. Also the zonal and national level competitions among architecture students under the national student body of architecture students meant, most of us knew each other regardless of which college you belonged to.

So I had gone to visit BEC during their annual cultural fest upon invitation by the architecture students that year. It was the final day of the fest and a popular rock band from Bangladesh was to perform as the main event.  I was looking forward to attend the concert and planned to stay over at the BEC hostel for the night after the concert. So I met another freshman at his hostel in order to proceed to the concert with him. I did not have any passes and he had promised to “get me in” as well as provide lodging for the night in his room.

By the time we left his room for the concert, both of us were fairly intoxicated on a heady cocktail of various intoxicants. So we tottered to the concert and as promised, he got me in. Somewhere during the concert, and given the state we were in, we managed to lose each other in the crowd. When I realised that my friend was nowhere to be found, I thought let’s enjoy the concert and I’ll find him after the show.

After the show, however, I still could not find him, mostly due to the fact of me being really high. In those days, personal mobile phones were a rarity, so there was no way for me to find him unless I physically found him. Assessing the situation I was in, in both senses of the word, I decided that the best thing I could do was to try to get back to his hostel room by myself. Unfortunately, given the large campus the college had and my state, I could not. After trying for about an hour, I decided that it was a futile attempt.

Suddenly I saw a nice white marble bench on a ground nearby. Being within a college campus, it was , I reasoned, safe enough for the night; moreover, I was barely conscious. So without further ado, I lay down on the bench.

I woke up sometime later. To my surprise, I found, that what I had thought of as a marble bench, was in fact a raised marble tomb and the ground was in fact an old British era cemetery  within the college premises. I had been sleeping over someone’s grave the entire while !

By this time, I was fairly sober and the realisation of what I had done sobered me even more. I got up and walked out of the campus. On my way back home, in the early morning bus, the entire time, I kept thinking about the feat that I had just managed to pull.

Couple of months ago, I met a friend who had studied at BE College. During our conversation, I happened to relate this incident to her. It is then I chanced upon some very interesting facts.

It so happens that the graveyard in question, is right in front of a Girl's Hostel. Some of the girls from the hostel had got up and got the scare of their lives that day. They claimed to have seen a person getting up from his grave and walking away ! And so was born another legend of the haunted graveyard facing the Girl's Hostel.

Unknown to me, I had, for all these years, and to all subsequent batches of girls staying in the hostel, become "the ghost who got up from his grave and walked away"..


  1. when you had narrated me this story of sleeping off on a grave, i can recall i was like laughing my head off!!
    glad to know the part 2 of the story!!

  2. thanks everyone !!
    if only i had a skull cave, a white stallion and a crossbred wolf dog...then i'd truly be the "Ghost who walks" :)