“The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we decide to follow.” - Ed Warren (Paranormal Investigator)
he opening lines and the title might have given you a general idea of what you’re about to delve into. For, India is a land of mystery. Over the years, our nation has witnessed events whose obscurities remain unsolved to this date. And one such mystery is that of Kuldhara, a small village situated in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Abandoned since the early 19th century, Kuldhara has been uninhabited since then. Countless theories have cropped up over the years regarding the reason for abandonment. Some of them eerily believable, others superficially counterfeit. But the fact of the matter remains that its secret is yet to be unfolded. To all the horror fanatics reading this, you must have heard about the Bhangarh Fort. But today, I bring forth to you Kuldhara. A village lying lifeless in the sandy deserts of Rajasthan. A village abandoned since a century. A village, cursed by a plague.
Let’s start from the beginning.
The ruins of Kuldhara, weathered and eroded over time.
About 200 years ago, Kuldhara was a lively place, bubbling with its equally happy residents. In an era of powerful kings and ministers, Kuldhara was home to the Paliwal Brahmins. It was during this time that Salim Singh (or as people say ‘Zalim Singh’), the Diwan of Jaisalmer, known for his decadence and immoral tax-collecting methods, set his eyes on the beautiful daughter of the village chief. The Diwan was absolutely hell-bent on having the girl and he told the villagers if they came in his way, he would levy huge taxes on them.
A portrait of Salim Singh, the cruel Diwan of Jaisalmer.
Fearing the wrath of the Diwan and the possibility of paying enormous sums of taxes, the inhabitants of the entire village fled one dark night, leaving behind their homes and everything within them. Kuldhara was abandoned by its very own people. No one witnessed the mass relocation of the thousand-odd members of the village. For generations now, no one knows where the Paliwals have resettled. Allthat is known is they cursed the town when they left – that no one would ever be able to settle down in Kuldhara again. And those who tried, would die a gruesome death.
And that curse stays true till date because the town is barren and uninhabited. A small temple located in the center of the village, has small niches in its walls, which indicates its use for holding tiny little lamps. The houses are in the same condition as they were left behind by their inhabitants. As soon as the sun starts setting across the sand dunes, the gates of Kuldhara are closed by the locals of the neighbouring villages. They believe the ghosts of Kuldhara still haunt the place.
The temple premises, whose walls had small niches for holding tiny little lamps.
Other theories say about the water scarcity being a possible cause for the abandonment. A 2017 study by A. B. Roy, published in Current Science, suggests that Kuldhara and other neighbouring Paliwal villages (such as Khabha) were destroyed because of an earthquake. According to the authors, the ruined houses in these villages show evidence of earthquake-related destruction, such as "collapsed roofs, fallen joists, lintels and pillars". Such extensive destruction cannot be attributed to "the normal processes of weathering and erosion". The authors further state that their theory is supported by "the evidence of recent tectonic activities and the observed ground movements along several major faults in the region"
All said and done, the mystery of Kuldhara town remains unsolved to this date. While the locals believe the ancient legends, the elitists assert their belief on scientific and logical reasons. The town has been declared a heritage site by the Archaeological Survey of India and is maintained by it. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to the deserted town looking for stories and a little adventure. And they go back utterly satisfied. For who doesn’t love ancient history, with a taste of the paranormal flavour. Cursed or just hit with bad luck, whatever maybe the reason, the town of Kuldhara is a beautiful place lost in the sands of time. Its story is fascinating. A story worth telling. And maybe it’s not as prominent as the Bhangarh Fort, but hey, it’s equally riveting. For, it’s not every day that you come up on India’s very own ghost town.