At one point in time, all of us have pictured ourselves as the last humans on earth. Blame those dystopian movies, maybe. Would we survive that eerie loneliness- so tangible, you can slice it with a knife? How long before we let nature and our inner fears take us down? The thought is far scarier than all those horror movies you’ve ever seen. The more you think of it, the tighter the knot in your stomach grows. However, paradoxically, there is always that odd fascination with the idea of such a grim possibility. What if I tell you, that this reality exists, right amongst us? Maybe forgotten and forbidden, but exist it does. I’m talking about ghost towns. Towns and cities once brimming with life and prosperity now left to silently rot away into oblivion.
Hashima Island, Japan: The only visitors this island has on a daily basis are the poops of the passing seagulls. But this wasn’t the case until 1974. In fact, it was once the most densely populated place on the planet. Hashima was a major coal mining facility owned by Mitsubishi Motors and was home to over 13,000 people. However, when the mining industry steeped into decline, this island transformed into an urban nightmare of sorts and within no time, the entire population vamoosed off to the mainland. The city is surrounded by high walls on all sides, thus making it look like a formidable battleship and giving it the nickname Gunkanjima- the battleship island. Today, every structure here is nothing short of hazardous. Setting foot on this island is banned and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Pripyat, Ukraine: Imagine waking up one morning, like you would on any other morning. But only, this morning you wake up to a column of smoke- a smoke that threatens to wipe out the entire settlement. This is what happened to the citizens of Pripyat on that fateful April morning and little did they know that thus would be their last morning.50,000 people were made to evacuate in around 30 hours- leaving behind all their belongings, in the hopes that they’d return again. Pripyat was having a funfair when tragedy struck, and like everything else, even this was left behind. The Ferris wheel still stands forlorn and abandoned, soft toys lie on the ground blankly staring into space- a shocking reminder of the life that once blossomed here- exemplifying the term “Ghost Town”.
Bhangarh, India: What would you say about a town that’s been openly declared as haunted by the authorities? Bhangarh is one such town. It has been left abandoned since more than 300 years. Legend has it that the kingdom of Bhangarh was cursed by a magician- a curse that still prevails and apparently, no structure has been able to survive there yet. Staying in the area after sunset and before sunrise is strictly prohibited, a rule even the paramilitary forces don’t dare to breach.
Jones’ Commune, USA: The story behind this ghost town is as brutal and morbid as it can get. On the November 18 of 1978, cult members of The People’s Temple forced cyanide laced Flavor Aid down the throats of more than 900 Jonestown residents. The very thought that the place was an open grave to more than hundreds of people, is enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand. This ghost town now stands as a symbol of how one “religious” movement can go horribly awry.
Famagusta, Cyprus: This city is duality at its eeriest. The beach of Famagusta is marked and separated by barbed wires badly patched with warning signs. One side of the beach is a view straight out of a postcard-everything a holiday the beach would look like. Now turn to the other side and you’ll see a town frozen in time (1970s, to be precise). Once a high rise, favored by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, it fell victim to the horrors of the Turkish military invasion. Apparently, if you’re ever lucky enough to walk its derelict streets, you’ll still find clothes hanging in wardrobes, vintage cars standing in showrooms in all their former glory and plates and glasses sitting on dining room tables.
Max Cavan is the author of this article. He works with magazinesubscriptions.com, a website that provides its readers with a wide range of magazines, at a lower cost.