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Observations placeholder

Maharani's ghost story



Type of Spiritual Experience

Inter composer communication

Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Marchioness Townshend & Maude Ffoulkes

The late Maharani of Cooch Behar’s Experience near Cawnpore

The late Maharani of Cooch Behar had a strange experience when, as a child, she was travelling by road with her parents across country, as her father, whose name is known throughout India as a great reformer who aimed at abolishing child marriages and the tyranny of caste, often made long journeys with his family in order to give public lectures and addresses in out-of-the-way places.

One evening the party arrived so late at a small town not far from Cawnpore, that it was decided to pass the night in a disused Government building, placed at their disposal by the authorities. Mr. Sen was not only a reformer but also a philosopher, accustomed to make the best of things, so the coolies proceeded forthwith to unload the baggage and prepare for the night.

When the future Maharani - then little Sunity Sen - began to look round the large, dimly lighted building, she noticed that the walls about ten inches upwards from the floor were covered with brown stains, as well as being scratched and cut about. However, this conveyed nothing to her; I suppose she only thought their quarters were rather dirty, and then forgot all about it. After the tired travellers had enjoyed some badly needed food, they made themselves comfortable in their improvised beds (probably hammocks), and settled themselves to sleep.

The Maharani told me, although it was the hot season, the hall was uncomfortably cold, and she could not close her eyes. . . .  She felt frightened, but she could not have explained why, especially as she was not alone. Her uneasiness persisted. She heard a door being cautiously opened . . . and she understood that there were quite a number of people in the hall. It was now dark; burning any kind of lights during the night had been prohibited, so she could see nothing, although she was well-aware of stealthy movements which seemed to come from every corner of the building.

Her father and mother were fast asleep, and little Sunity did not like to disturb them even when there came noises of scufflings, and stifled cries – whisperings – thuds – an occasional groan, and a choking prayer for mercy.

Afterwards all was quiet, and the child, too terrified to stir, and not daring to close her eyes, waited for the coming of dawn, when once again she saw the stained and scratched walls, but nothing, or nobody else, was visible.

Later she told her parents, who made inquiries, which disclosed what had happened in the building during the Mutiny of '57, when a number of English ladies had sought shelter there (the building had no connection with the House of the Ladies at Cawnpore), and were murdered almost as soon as they had found "sanctuary".

The stains and scratches spoke for themselves, and it was well known that the place witnessed periodical repetitions of the horrors which had occurred there. It was with feelings of relief that the travellers went on their way, but the late Maharani always insisted on the truth of her story, especially as she said she could never forget what the sounds in the darkness must have represented.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Overwhelming fear and terror


Being a child



Townshend, G. & FFoulkes, M., (1936) True Ghost Stories, London:Senate