Kuldhara Village


Kuldhara is an abandoned village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, India. Established around 13th century, it was once a prosperous village inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins.

Kuldhara is an abandoned village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, India. Established around 13th century, it was once a prosperous village inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. It was abandoned by the early 19th century for unknown reasons, possibly because of dwindling water supply, or as a local legend claims, because of persecution by the Jaisalmer State's minister Salim Singh. A 2017 study suggests that Kuldhara and other neighbouring villages were abandoned because of an earthquake. Over years, Kuldhara acquired reputation as a haunted site, and the Government of Rajasthan decided to develop it as a tourist spot in the 2010s.

Ghost towns and villages hold a charm very different from the ruins of castles and fortresses, mostly because they give us a chance to peep right into the lives of the people who once inhabited them. Being a desert region, Rajasthan has no dearth of ghost villages but few of them have got as much attention as Bhangarh and Kuldhara, perhaps due to the legends associated with them. While we were in Jaisalmer, it was quite natural for us to desire a visit to Kuldhara, and so we did.

You do not wake up every day to the news of roads being flooded in Jaisalmer. And cooped inside the palatial fortress in Suryagarh, watching the monsoon rains drench the desert from my window, I was longing to step out and soak in the atmosphere. And that is when I heard about the legend of the Paliwal Brahmins. Set 200 years ago, it was the story of a community who had vanished overnight, leaving behind a ghost village to narrate their tale. A haunted trail to a village called Kuldhara near Jaisalmer was organised by Suryagarh at night, but it was tempting to explore the abandoned village during the day as well .

History


The Paliwals were harassed by the local Samant or the ruler and were paying huge amounts of money in the form of taxes to them. But one fine day, the ruler apparently set his eyes on one of the girls in the community, possibly the Chief’s daughter . The Paliwals were given no choice in the matter and they had just a day to accept his proposal. Overcome by remorse and in desperation, the entire community left their homes and hearths behind, cursing the king and escaped in the death of the night.

Kuldhara belongs to Paliwal Brahmins Samaj who used to live there till 19th century. The village was established in 1291. The reason for the vanish of village after 7 centuries of well settled villagers was a minister in the ruling kingdom at that time. The minister had carnal eye on the younger daughter of the chief of the village. He wanted to marry with her, forced the chief for marrying his daughter, but chief denied. In 1825, one night all the chiefs of the 85 villages decide to leave the Kuldhara for their pride and honor in the very dark night. Nobody knows where they went after leaving the village. It is said that they were settled near Jodhpur. All the villagers cursed the village that who tries to inhabit the village in future would bring to death. Till then, Kuldhara shows the dignity of Paliwal Brahmins with ghostly silence all over the village.

Architecture


The Kuldhara village was originally settled by Brahmins who had migrated from Pali to Jaisalmer region.These migrants originating from Pali were called Paliwals. Tawarikh-i-Jaisalmer, an 1899 history book written by Lakshmi Chand, states that a Paliwal Brahmin named Kadhan was the first person to settle in the Kuldhara village. He excavated a pond called Udhansar in the village.

The ruins of the village include 3 cremation grounds, with several devalis.The village was settled by the early 13th century, as indicated by two devali inscriptions. These inscriptions are dated in the Bhattik Samvat, and record the deaths of two residents in 1235 CE and 1238 CE respectively.