Kuldhara is an abandoned village near Jaisalmer, with hundreds of abandoned buildings, many without roof. Our hosts- Suryagarh, took us to this haunted village in late evening, as part of their Churail trail signature experience.
Centuries ago, Kuldhara was believed to be a prosperous village, with people active in trading and agriculture. However, what led to the emptying of the village is still a mystery. There are major theories floating around, to explain what happened to Kuldhara (and another 80+ villages around it).
Theory 1: Mughal Invasion and poisoning
Being a rich community, Kuldhara and nearby villages were targets of Mughal invasion. When villagers resisted, the wells and other water sources were poisoned by the mughals, resulting in death of lots of animals who drank from these water sources. This made living impossible and all villagers had to flee overnight. Where they went is not known and obviously they never came back. Since then (i.e. 16th century) the village is abandoned- no one dared to live here, fearing that the village is haunted and cursed.
Theory 2: Emperor wanting village chief’s daughter
The second theory suggests that all villagers decided to flee because the Diwan/King set his eyes on village chief’s daughter. When the Diwan/King was passing through the village, he had water in village chief’s residence, where the Diwan/King happened to see the beautiful daughter of village chief. Intrigued by her beauty he immediately decided to marry her and sought her family’s permission. Village chief refused, citing that they and the king were of different cast (villagers were largely Brahmin and king was Rajput) and marriage between them is not viable.
Angry that his offer is turned down,Diwan/King imposed heavy taxes on the villagers and when villagers failed to pay up and defaulted, he tried to get village chief’s daughter married to him, in exchange of waiver of taxes. All these affected emotions of the villagers- who felt that if this could happen to village chief’s daughter, tomorrow it could happen to their children as well. Instead of surrendering to king’s blackmailing tactics, villagers decided to flee overnight. But in the process, they decided to kill village head’s daughter, because King’s guards and soldiers may recognize her and arrest everyone in the convoy for fleeing. Instead of leaving her behind and let her fall into wrong hands, they decided to honor kill her before fleeing.
She is believed to be buried in this hole alive and since she died with lots of desires unfulfilled, she is believed to be roaming around as a Churail (lady ghost), haunting people who dare to venture into her village, particularly in the night. We were shown the house of village chief, the village temple which has no idol (Idol was reportedly taken away by the fleeing community). As they left, villagers generously cursed the king as well as the village, which is believed to be effective even today. Where did these people go, did they survive or got killed etc are just not known.
Depending on who narrates the story to you, expect minor variations in above theories and probably some personal imagination and creativity added.
There is no scientific proof to any of these and all of these are left to your beliefs. Some of the drivers in our convoy strongly believed in existence of evil forces, claimed that there have been mysterious deaths of people who ventured into the village to investigate the truth. We were also told that people who took photographs also had to suffer bad evil. Not sure if they really mean it or had to say that to set the ambiance for their guests visiting the haunted village. We were in large group and didn’t experience any unusual activity. Even at midnight, it was sultry and we were sweating profusely- we left after a very short visit to key places of the village. It was pitch dark with no lighting- mobile torches and camera flashes were the only illumination- be sure to go there with full charge and adequate protective gears like shoes and thick trousers while visiting Kuldhara. Also maps and GPS are largely useless, as these places are not effectively listed in maps. Be sure to take local help while visiting this place, else you can easily get lost in the vastness of the desert. Here’s a report of an team of experts from Delhi trying to spend a night in Kuldhara and reporting some strange experiences.
We spotted a big scorpion near the village temple and our escorts promptly killed it. They claimed that if these scorpions bite, no medical care is effective and death is certain. It can even leap and bite you- we are told. They also said that we as tourists will come and go, while they need to keep visiting this place again and these scorpions, if left alive, could very well kill them or other guests next time.
We were also told there could be snakes and other harmful animals. We were also told not to pickup anything from the place-jewelry included- if at all we find any, as they will bring bad luck. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything valuable.
Pls excuse me for couple of out of focus images.
Pls excuse me for couple of out of focus images.
|Place where village chief used to sit|
|Empty Temple without idol|
Below is a quick video of us driving through Kuldhara late evening. I shot it mainly to test GoPro’s night video capabilities.
For additional reading, check this post by Lakshmi Sharath and this Wikipedia page for more details about the Paliwal Brahmin community that used to live here.
|Day time view of one of the abandoned villages|