Jaisalmer, Rajasthan is a panoramic beauty. The huge ocean of yellow sand looks like the folds of a smooth silk cloth wrapped all around. And in this district lies Kuldhara, a town that’s as featureless and barren of life as the desert itself.
Kuldhara, is a former village located 18 kilometers from Jaisalmer city. The drive to reach it is pleasant with narrow dusty roads and minimal vegetation.
This barren village has ruins of around 400 houses centered on the remains of a temple. The ruins of cremation grounds and a city wall can also be seen. During the 19th century, it was a prosperous village with water and vegetation. But what makes it shocking is that it became deserted overnight. According to legends, all the villages and their cattle left the village overnight without a trace.
The emptiness is the first thing that hits us in Kuldhara. There is nothing but the crumbled beauty of a long-lost era. Ruin of 400 houses, stripped of splendor, each telling a tale of life that had existed in them earlier. The walls and ceilings that had once been the home of many happy lives and therefore full of life itself are now covered in black and brown mold, grime and dirt. The isolation is unsettling. The entire village is crypt quite, motionless and soundless. Once we climb the rickety stairs of a house we can see the entire village and only imagine what it once was. The cool breeze blowing from the desert makes it even more eerie. When we visited, there were hardly any tourists, only a handful of shepherd boys who were willing to talk about the mystery of the place for a meager amount.
Around 200 years ago during the age of Kings as rulers, the Paliwal Brahmins inhabited Kuldhara. Legend has it that there was powerful minister known for his sinister and unlawful practices. He was besotted by the village chief’s daughter and wanted to marry her and threatened to levy huge taxes on the villagers if they tried to oppose him. To avoid this all the villagers just abandoned the village overnight. It is still unknown as to where these villagers relocated to. It is also said that the other villages in that area also abandoned overnight. The legend also says that the Paliwal Brahmins before leaving, cursed this place so that nobody would settle here. The area ever since, remains uninhabited.
The Archaeological Survey of India now preserves this place as a heritage site and a few houses and temple are resurrected to give the tourists a feel of the bygone era. Irrespective of whether you believe in mysteries or legends, there is something unnerving about Kuldhara that makes it a must see.