Everybody loves a good mystery. But combine a good mystery with a ghost stories, and people are going to stumble all over it. Now I do not like haunted movies, so you can totally imagine my reaction if I ended up in a haunted place. Kuldhara has been known to represent such an ideology. Located 17 kms away from Jaisalmer, Kuldhara, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, has a story to tell that spans over a period of 300 years old.
Once upon a time, Kuldhara used to be a prosperous village of Paliwal Brahmins, who were 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 desired 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, everyone loves a good mystery, and hence the former story has ended up becoming a legend.
I may not like a horror story, but I definitely love to visit a place that has history and mystery mixed with its brick and mortar. Jaisalmer has been on my hit list since the day I read Feluda stories by Satyajit Ray, the greatest novelist and filmmaker in Indian history. The day I stepped down on the grounds of Jaisalmer at the crack of dawn, shivering into my only thick trench coat, the only thought that was clamoring inside me, other than finding a clean toilet, was to visit the infamous Kuldhara. I tried to convince my hotel people to arrange for a vehicle to cover the border area and to pay 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 compromise to visit the village at the sunset and leave by the peak hours.
I did fell asleep while passing through the barren landscape. So, by the time we reached Kuldhara, I was too drowsy to register any haunted or eerie feeling that might have persisted. But the rows of mud houses with no roofs and broken walls definitely paints a stark contrast in mind. The entire area echoes of a tragic past, that is 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.
Taking a walk down the roads bordered with the crumbled houses and ruined walls, I certain didn’t get any feeling of haunted. But the pin-drop silence with a backdrop of a beautiful sunset definitely creates this eerie feeling and this prickly sensation on the back of my neck which definitely makes it all the more uncomfortable.
It is actually quite fun to travel among the ruins, imagining a past that is long gone. 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. I technically was not able to do whole haunted place at night time, but I certainly do not have any regrets.
Tips to be noted:
Kuldhara is accessible only by road. So either you can opt for a cab or you can drive down in your private vehicle. Having your own vehicle definitely eliminates the time constraint.
Entry to Kuldhara is only allowed during daylight. After 6 pm, the gates to the village are closed.