Haunted, damned and oppressed village of Kuldhara Jaisalmer

Kuldhara – where the ghost stories of Jaisalmer are still alive. Come, this abandoned village located 14 kilometers in the southwest direction of Jaisalmer which is famous for many ghost cursed stories.

Far spread Thar desert

Notorious stories of Kuldhara

It is said that Kuldhara village was a group of 400 houses and 45 small villages 500 years ago where the Paliwal Brahmin Samaj resided. Then why did Kuldhara village suddenly become haunted and damned? Why did people abandon this village? Many stories about it are popular among people. some of them are:

Uninhabited route to kuldhara
Uninhabited route to kuldhara

According to one version, there was a minister named Salim Singh in the court of Jaisalmer emperor. He had imposed many kinds of taxes on the subjects. For this reason, the citizens also called him Zalim Singh. She also had a bad attitude on the women of the society. It is believed that his special mischief was on the daughter of the village headman.

When the servants of Salim Singh came to the village to take the daughter of the chief, the villagers asked him to come in the morning. After that, all the villagers escaped from the village overnight. He did not even let the servants of Salim Singh get a glimpse of it. Some people also say that the chief’s daughter committed suicide due to fear of Salim Singh. Fearing that such an incident does not recur, the villagers decided to abandon the village overnight.

An umbrella on the mound near Kuldhara
An umbrella on the mound near Kuldhara

Before leaving the village, the villagers cursed their abandoned houses that no one would settle in those houses and after abandonment their village and houses would be cursed forever. Even today these villages are deserted in the same way as if they are still living their curse.

Poles to know the water level
Poles to know the water level

Rajasthan Tourism has now renovated the residence of the head of the village whose daughter was the king’s wrath. There is a chamber in this place where the chief is believed to have abandoned the village leaving the body and curse of the girl.

Bhangarh fort is another haunted place in Rajasthan.

Who was the Paliwal Brahmin of Kuldhara?

A small group of Brahmins from Pali region of Rajasthan came here and settled on the banks of river Kakani in the 13th century. He also dug a pond called Udhansar. As they migrated from the Pali region, they came to be called Paliwal. 19th He left Kuldhara early in the century and left. This means that they lived here for about 400 years. You can still see people of Paliwal surname in Rajasthan.

Memorial stone of the recipients
Memorial stone of the recipients

Archaeological evidence suggests that people may have abandoned villages due to an earthquake. The drying up of the Kakani river can also be a reason for the abandonment of the village. According to another theory, due to decreasing water level, agricultural yield started to decrease, but no change or reduction was made in the taxes levied on them. Therefore, residing in this village more time was becoming difficult for the Paliwal community.

Census records of various rulers Shows a sharp decline in population. 17th According to the records of the history book Tawarikh-e-Jaisalmer composed by Lakshmi Chand in the century, the population here was 1800, which was the 19th. In the British era of the century it was reduced to only 30.

Kuldhara Darshan

All the legends associated with Paliwal society and their cursed and abandoned villages are still alive in these ruins. Rajasthan tourism has done the task of transforming these ruins into an interesting tourist destination without any manipulation. They seem to be successful in keeping the ghostly feel of these villages wrapped in a bundle of mystery. This work of Rajasthan tourism is commendable.

Remains of Kuldhara village
Remains of Kuldhara village

I consider it my good fortune that I got opportunities to visit the two best times of this village. One day time and the other after half-night as a ghost visit to the village. These ghost villages of Kuldhara are spread on the outer border of Jaisalmer city.

Kuldhara’s half-night witch walk

This witch walk was organized by our hospitality ‘Suryagarh’.

Late in the night, our driver Himmat Singh took us on a ghost walk which is also known as the Witch Tour. The ridiculous incident was that our driver named Himmat Singh was the most feared person among us.

It was past midnight. We all sat on the stairs of the Shiva temple located near a ghost well. We were all tourists. So naturally, we all got busy discussing the subject of our travels. Himmat Singh was constantly warning us by flashing the lights of the car. They were sending us anxious signs and requested to get up from there and go back to the city.

We could dispute Himmat Singh ji because we did not feel fear, nor did we feel the presence of any ghost. But we decided not to do so. There was no question of our faith here. If they believe that ghosts are inhabited at these places and that ghosts should not accuse them at night, then we should not ridicule their feelings. Their perplexity on our informal gestures is justified.

Landscape of kuldhara
Landscape of kuldhara

Let me tell you about this ‘witch’ walk. This Darshan Yatra of Kuldhara village took us to these places:

• A well in which it is believed that many people were killed
• A temple which was closed at night
• Many mausoleums on which monuments were inscribed. They are also called Deoli.
• Persecuted and cursed villages

The villages of Kuldhara have now been completely converted into ruins.

We entered the double house of the village headman. Some of the tourists who accompanied me were trembling in the haunted room of the chief’s house. There is a room here where people have realized some extraordinary activities and have written a lot about them. But to be honest, I did not find anything extraordinary. The only fear was in my mind not to stumble upon the uneven house of ruins in the dark night.

Whatever it is, the thrill of wandering in the ruins of what is considered a ghost in the darkness of night will not forget me.

The unique landscape of the desert

On the second day also we visited the cursed village of Kuldhara. At this time we came here during the day.

Kuldhara Jaisalmer
Kuldhara Jaisalmer

In the light of day, the ruins of the local yellow rocks were mingling in the yellow sand of this region. From some angles it seemed as if we were surrounded by gold. It is now understood why Jaisalmer fort is called Sonar fort. The mausoleum and memorial stones filled with wide sand land filled with yellow sand were peeping out as if several sprouts had burst from the wet earth.

We climbed a car on a hill to behold this unique view of the Thar Desert from a high place. There is a small temple on this hill. Revolving around this temple, you can get a panoramic view of the Thar Desert.

There were dry puddles in many places on the earth. Whenever there is some rainfall, water is stored here. It is probably a dry desert garden. Our vision was reaching the highest possible distance from this high place. You can find such a view only in the desert or on the beach.

You will remember Jaisalmer is very close to Indo-Pak border. In some places, we were only 20 kilometers from the international border. Like any ordinary Indian citizen there, I also started imagining what would happen beyond this border line.

Samadhi memorial or deoli

On our way to the beautiful Lodrava temple, we stopped at many places where there were groups of many samadhis. There were 3 such sites in the ruins of the village.

Residue of umbrella
Residue of umbrella

In the name of most mausoleums, only memorial stones stood. On these rocks standing like a milestone, sometimes the sculpture of a man was engraved with the shape of a couple or two women with a male. It probably indicates how many people died together, a man or men and his wife or wives. Is this also a sign of sati practice? Probably yes

Special chhatri-like memorials were also built over some mausoleums. Perhaps they will be tombstones of important persons. In the craftsmanship done on these monuments, the costumes of women wearing lehenches and veils appear to be Rajasthani style. At the same time, the influence of Mughals in men’s costumes is visible.

Sati memorial
Sati memorial

All these monuments have inscriptions in Devanagari language on the rocks. The dates inscribed on them, according to my limited knowledge, make them 17th. The end of the century or the 16th. Recounts around the beginning of the century. According to the information received from the literature, some of these 13th. Can also be of the century. The transcriptions also state that the memorial belongs to a Brahmin of Kuldhara or a person of the Kalashar caste. Kalashar caste may have been a sub-caste of Paliwal Brahmins.

Read more: Raja Chhatris of Bada Bagh Jaisalmer

I was told that a tall single stone, on which the statue of God is engraved, points towards a water source nearby. I wished that we should preserve these ancient techniques of landmarking so that people can find common needs through symbolic symbols.

Khaba fort

The Khaba fort is situated on top of another hill. This fort is visible from all around us while going up the hill through a winding path. Another similar village is visible from the top of the ruins of this Khaba fort on the hill, very organized and modern but strong.

Khaba fort
Khaba fort

Wherever we were going, people were telling us about these cursed villages and the reasons for abandoning them. As far as my point of view is concerned, I was looking at the ancient urban settlement in these ruins. Structured houses in a straight line with wide streets. All the houses were almost identical in structure and were built in small groups.

All the houses are now destroyed. Only fragmented reefs are standing as if the foundations of the houses had grown from here. The roof of any house is no longer remaining. Looking at the remains of the mural on one side of the settlement, it appears that it may have been the boundary of the city.

Inside the fortress
Inside the fortress

Looking at these remains, they do not appear to be villages from a few centuries ago. But looking at them, it is as if they were urban settlements of ancient times. Anyone looking at them will start to believe that they may be part of the Indus city civilization. The paradox is that this structure is a fort and stones have been used instead of bricks in its construction. I did not see the drainage system. Since we had spent very little time here, I may have missed finding them.

I hope that I get another opportunity to visit these villages, that too under the direction of a historian who can give me more detail about them than the information given by the tourism industry.

Some of the energy of its vibrant times is still present in these fragmented villages of Kuldhara. To get experience of these, one needs to be sensitive to them.

Travel tips

Ancient temple of Kuldhara
Ancient temple of Kuldhara

You know very well that it is very easy to get lost in the desert. While visiting these villages, remember this fact. In many places there are no signs showing the correct route. There is also difficulty in getting a continuous mobile network. Therefore, to visit this place, it is very important that you take with you a local person who will take you back after traveling to the places.

If you want to take a night walk then having a local knowledge with you is a must.

Always keep plenty of drinking water and some food items with you.

Cover yourself more and more to escape the dry and hot air of the desert.

Translation: Madhumita Tamhane

About Peter Rhody

"Loving India is a passion of mine. I have enjoyed several long journeys to all corners of the sub-continent, completed my B.A and M.A in Asian studies, studied languages such as Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit, written on the Hari Krishna movement, lectured on Indian culture and history in university, advised others on their trips to India all the while preparing my next visit to India. There are so many places in India I love and want to always go back to but my favorite destination has to be the holy city of Varanasi. Here you can feel the living pulse and the beating heart of the center of religious India with its overwhelming spirituality and history and just for being a true microcosm of India itself "

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