Legend of the Disappearing Village

Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

January 2016

Everybody loves a good mystery. I used to be a big fan of Nancy Drew and Hardy boys while growing up. Even now, give me a good psychological thriller, and I can sit happily in one corner and just rave through the pages. Human mind somehow loves to dwell on the element of intrigue – may it be gossip, or a spooky story over bonfire, or just a mystery with a haunted touch. On any normal day, I will vocally avoid watching or hearing anything that has the remotest haunted element. So imagine my reaction if I ended up in a haunted place. Located 17 kms away from Jaisalmer, Kuldhara, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, has a story to tell that pans over a period of 300 years old.

Once upon a time, Kuldhara used to be a prosperous village of Paliwal Brahmins, a very prosperous clan, known for their business acumen and agricultural knowledge. According to the legend, the evil eyes of Salim Singh, the powerful and debauched prime minister of the state, fell on the daughter of the village head. Like all stories go, he wished to marry her by force. Instead of submitting to his whims and fancies, the Paliwals decided to hold  council and with mutual consent, the entire village of 85 left their ancestral homes and vanished. But this was not all; before leaving, they put a curse on the village of Kuldhara that no one will ever be able to settle in their village thereafter. Till date, the village remains barren and desolate. The locals claim that, those who have tried to stay in that village at night have been chased away by strange paranormal phenomenon. The logical story talks about raised taxes which made it unviable for survival. However, its the mystical element of the former story that has ended up making the village a haunted legend.

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Jaisalmer has been a prominent feature of my travel bucket list ever since the day I read Feluda stories by Satyajit Ray, the greatest novelist and filmmaker in Indian history. However, I heard about Kuldhara from one of my friends, who decided to go on a roadtrip with couple of his college friends after smoking up. He just said at the end of his vacation “Dude! It was insanely spooky man!!” So of course! my natural curiosity was whetted substantially. I decided to convince the hotel staff to arrange for a vehicle to arrange for a visit to Kuldhara after sundown. But they adamantly refused stating that no vehicle is going to take any tourist to the abandoned village at sunset, no matter how much you pay them. So a compromise was made to visit the village prior to the sunset and leave before the actual sunset happens.

The rows of mud houses with no roofs and broken walls definitely paints picture of a tragic past, complemented by the dry and dusty landscape of the Thar. At the centre of village, one can see a house that looks quite new compared to the rest of the surrounding. According to the local sources, the government is trying to give a new shape to the lost history and reconstructive attempts are being made to give the tourists a glimpse into the past.

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Taking a walk down the roads bordered with the crumbled houses and ruined walls, I won’t say I was completely comfortable since I kept getting the feeling that something is brushing my shoulder, something more than the non-existent breeze. Maybe it is the pin-drop silence against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset or maybe it is the conscious awareness of the stories and the legends of the place.

Those with a heart of adventure and curiosity will enjoy revisiting history in a completely new way. Rajasthan tourism has definitely painted a very distinctive image of Kuldhara which will tempt anyone to do a follow-up.


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Rajasthan

5 comments

  1. That’s an interesting tale, Ishita. Knew about Bhangarh in Rajasthan, but there are more such towns is interesting. What I liked most about this story is that the villagers didn’t give in to the crook’s demand. Great post. Love the pics, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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