For me, travel is all about knowing the history of a place than visiting newly built places. Of course, newly built places have their own charm and fun, but if a place has a history, I must find it out.
Now, I was unaware about Kuldhara but apparently, it is quite famous and has even received media coverage. Interesting! I googled a bit about the place and what I read intrigued me. Our guide told us that there are many theories on what happened and no one really has any concrete idea of what happened since there are no written records of the event, but every possible theory is interesting.
Legend has it, that Kuldhara and the neighbouring villages, 84 of them, were inhabited by Paliwal brahmins. The village was established way back in the 13th century and was abandoned in the early 19th century.
Roughly 20 kms from the city of Jaisalmer, the village of Kuldhara was built around the temple of the mahisasur mardini. The Paliwals had migrated to the village from Pali.
It was honestly, heart breaking to see the ruins, to imagine the now empty lanes, once filled with playing children and shops on either side. To imagine how desperate the situation must have been that every single person had to pack whatever little they could and just walk out of their homes to never return.
Most of the village is in ruins. Whatever little remains, talks of better days and happier times. Once a prosperous village, it broke my my heart to see the abandoned village. The villagers were mainly farmers, bankers and traders. It is said that while everything was great, bad times befell during the time Salim Singh was the Diwan of Jaisalmer. He was infamous for debauchery and unfair taxation which he levied on the residents of the village. His eyes fell on the daughter of the village chief and the girl was very young. He wanted to marry her which the villagers were not very happy about. They resisted, to which Diwan threatened to levy higher taxes on them.
Scared and tired of Diwan’s already increasing atrocities, the villagers took a decision overnight. They packed up and left, taking along people of the neighbouring villages of the entire area. Nobody saw them leave, but about a thousand people left their homes that night. There is no news of where they went and where they settled, but it is believed that the place is cursed. People have tried to settle there but to vain.
The government of Rajasthan is trying to restore parts of the site like in the picture below and Archeological Survey of India is maintaining it as a heritage site. Personally, I felt deep sadness there however, many people have reported it to be eerie and scary even in the daytime. Not many visitors are around but some of the houses are in pitiable condition. Every inch of the walls and every corner of some houses are filled with names written on the walls. There is a confusion if this has been done by anti-social elements and trespassers, or there is another story to them. The way the names are written, not leaving any space free, it looks eerie as well as annoying.
I was told that nobody stays around after sunset and before the sun sets, everyone, including the security, flees the place until sunrise the next day. I don’t know if the rumours of the village being haunted is true or not, but seeing that there was no light for kilometers around, I’d not want to be left there in the darkness.