- Poonam Binayak
Abandoned since the 19th century, this small village of Kuldhara is around 18 kilometers (12.4 miles) southwest of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. This village is dotted with hundreds of dilapidated sand stone houses and dusty roads, and the ruins of this village are said to be cursed and haunted, and consequently have obtained an air of abandonment, while beholding a dark secret, which needs to be discovered.
With origins in the 13th century, Kuldhara was established by an affluent clan—Paliwal Brahmins. Once a prosperous village and home to over 1,500 people and around 400 houses, it is now a deserted and abandoned ghost village. In 1825, the people of the village as well as 83 villages nearby suddenly left collectively in the dead of night and were never seen since then. By the 19th century, all the villagers vanished into thin air, leaving behind their memories and an undying curse. No trace of the Paliwal community of Kuldhara was found since then. This mass disappearance of over 1,500 people with no traces has left historians bewildered. Today, the Archaeological Survey of India maintains this town as a heritage site.
The story with which this village of Rajasthan is known for tells the tale of the erstwhile Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh, who fell in love with the daughter of the village chief. He threatened the villagers and her family by burdening them with a huge tax if they not agree to his demand. Dreading the imposition of sky high taxes, the people of the town and the 83 villages in the area decided to abandon the town to protect the girl’s honor, thus leaving only their homes behind.
Before they left the village, however, they cast a curse that no one could ever live in this village, which caused its doom and added to the air of eeriness. It is said that whoever tried to settle down on this land experienced paranormal activities and left soon after. The spell stays true until today and the village remains desolate. The brick houses left behind by the people of the town have fallen into dilapidation, as did the cluster of wells and deity-engraved poles in the area.
Having gained the tag of Heritage Site by the Archaeological Survey of India, Kuldhara now functions as a tourist spot, although its state continues to tumble down. As the sun goes down, the gates of Kuldhara are closed by the neighboring villagers, as they believe supernatural beings take over after the sun sets. The extent of the supernatural/ paranormal activity is apparent from the fact that the Paranormal Society of New Delhi itself witnessed eerie activities like haunting voices, footprints on the mud, moving shadows, scratches on cars, and more. However, its ancient structures, mysterious yet spooky incidents, and sad story continue to attract tourists, though permission to enter the village is only during daylight. There is a renovated temple that continues to stand amidst the ruins. The Rajasthan Government is in the process of bringing life to this long-lost town by re-constructing it.