The Abandoned Village of Kuldhara

Apr 11, 2022 0 comments

Some 30 kilometres from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, a dusty track meanders towards the abandoned town of Kuldhara. Deserted land of scanty vegetation straddles this road in silence, and a mirage rises from its surface under the unrelenting sun. Despite the arid land and the sultry heat, there is much that has attracted tourists to this secluded village. There is mystery and legend here, and enough room for the imagination to fly and the heart to feel scared.

Photo: Pierre Doyen/Flickr

The legend of Kuldhara resounds with realities of rural India, but after centuries of being sieved through oral narratives, the village has taken on a haunted tinge like that of a gory fairytale. According to stories, Kuldhara was inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins of Rajasthan back in the 19th century. One day, the shameless and debauched prime minister of the state, Salim Singh, settled his roving eyes on the daughter of the village head. Used to getting what he wanted, the minister demanded the girl’s hand in marriage, and threatened to raise taxes if anyone dared to oppose his decision. But the people of Kuldhara were united and not easily relented. As the local legend goes, the villages stealthily communed to discuss the matter, and decided to flee the land in the dead of night. In their exodus they left behind a curse on the village: no one would be able to inhabit it in the future.

The houses of Kuldhara still stand inhabited. Photo: Manish Ayachit/Flickr

Loose threads of mystery weave intrigue into the story. No one knows where the villagers went or what happened to them. Many have come to believe that ghosts, probably of the villagers, continue to roam the mud houses of Kuldhara. Others believe it is the spirit of the girl, who was later made victim to an honour killing. Some have tried to spend nights in the village as well, but were chased away by seemingly paranormal activities in the dark. Whether it’s the curse or the belief of the progeny, but the village continues to remain abandoned even today. As a consequence, the architecture of the village has remained untouched for centuries, and harks back to a time that is now long gone and long forgotten. Mud brick walls continue to hold the ruinous roofs of Kuldhara’s dingy houses. Open courtyards still stand strong against the ravages of time and weather, and the upper stories of the houses are high enough to provide a wholesome aerial view of the entire village. Outside, stone gazebos sit quietly looking at the tourists who pass them by in awe. An ancient temple sits somewhere in the middle of the village.

Photo: Tomas Belcik/Flickr

The ruins now sit under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India. Capitalising opportunists strangle its beauty with commercial stays around its periphery. Despite the natural beauty of the place, a host of people from the surrounding villages continue to take it upon themselves to add charm to the location with their varied stories about its past.

Photo: mike gleeson/Flickr

Photo: Lorna Taylor/Flickr

Photo: Chandra/Flickr

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