Haunted homes of Rajasthan’s Kuldhara

Unfolding the dark secrets of desert


March 2, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Haunted homes of Rajasthan’s Kuldhara

At present Kuldhara Village is a heritage site and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (Photo Credit: Jaya Sahay)

With an eerie silence, not a soul in sight and totally deserted streets, Kuldhara is definitely an interesting place to visit, especially, if you like mystery, suspense and history.

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Ghost stories have a very different kind of charm to lure readers with old forts, ruins of castles, deserted alleys, sinister houses and abandoned spirits. Lying 21 km from the Golden City of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, Kuldhara a large village has a similar story to tell.

Straight dusty roads with intermittent rows of mud houses, narrow lanes, sandstone walls and a temple stand as a living testimony of some sad past. To the east of the village lies the parched river bed of Kakni. As one walks through the ruins of Kuldhara, ravages of time are visible all over.

At present Kuldhara Village is a heritage site and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Tucked away with mystery and folklores, the village lies in ruins and all that is left are various open houses in a state of complete despair with no signs of human establishments and activities.

“As you enter the premises of this ancient village, you feel as if time has stood still in Kuldhara since the last 200 years,” says Delhi-based Tiya Mukherjee, who visited the ghost town with a group of friends two years ago.

The best time to visit Kuldhara is between October and March when the weather is pleasant in Rajasthan, one of the warmest Indian states. Tourists can go sightseeing in various places of interest without being exhausted.

As a visitor to the abandoned village, one is bound to feel curious about its past, about how the villagers disappeared without a trace and that too, without drawing any attention to their evacuation and more importantly, what happened to them.

All tour guides are well aware of tourists’ curiosity and explain the myths and legends associated with the disappearance of the residents and why some believe the place is cursed and haunted to this day.

Stories of abandonment & curse

Some legends say that there was a scarcity of water or an earthquake that forced the residents of Kuldhara away

The deserted, narrow and ancient streets of Kuldhara are the source of myths, spooky folklore, and stories of ghosts and paranormal activity.

Different tempting stories spread all over the place to find a justification for the current state of the village. While some say the unsatiated souls of inhabitants still roam all over the village, while others say that there is a treasure of gold buried under the land and ghosts’ stories are only spread by the locals to keep visitors away from the place. Other legends say that there was a scarcity of water or an earthquake that forced the residents away.

According to the most popular legend, since the 13th century, Kuldhara had been a bustling settlement of Paliwal Brahmins. However, in the 19th century, the entire settlement of about 85 clusters of homes emptied out in a single night as residents fled to escape the wrath and evil-eyes of the Diwan (chief administrator) of Jaisalmer. The mystery of where they went and what happened to such a large group of people remains unsolved even today. Today, all that remains are crumbling walls of homes, desolate streets and abandoned wells.

Reconstructing stories through renovations & ruins

As one enters the village and walks through the rubble, one wonders what would have these structures been, how would the rooms have looked and which house belonged to whom?

Some possible answers to these questions lie in the re-constructed houses – an attempt to re-create the layout from the past and to aid the imagination of what Kuldhara might have been. Tourists can tour these houses, walk around the layouts and get a glimpse of the lovely architecture that possibly was.

Besides the dilapidated layouts and a small umbrella-like structure, tourists can walk down the dusty, desolate roads to visit the many deep, step-wells within the village. The presence of multiple wells in the village gives a feeling that there seemed to be one well for a set of residents. Curiously around each well is a pillar with numerous deities sculpted on them. One of the recognisable sculptures is that of Ganesha (a Hindu deity) while the other seems to be that of some goddess. While the significance of these pillars is not known, they add to the intrigue of the place.

One of the renovated houses in Kuldhara

It is not advisable for one to climb down into the well but tourists can definitely see how deep it goes with its staircase leading down into darkness. Around the same area, one will notice many other wells at regular intervals.

A lot of renovation work has been going on in the village for the past few years. A major portion of an old, little temple, in the middle of a cluster of houses, has been renovated. A nice set of stairs lead to the temple premises. Its walls still have small nooks that once held tiny little lamps.

And from inside the temple, one can see far and wide across the ruins of the once prosperous village of Kuldhara.

The houses, tour guides say, are almost in the same condition as they were left behind by their residents. Another interesting thing about the houses is that none of them has a roof.

As one mounts the steps of one such home, they can see the entire expanse of the village. Lanes and brick homes, which are equidistant from each other and are neatly laid out.

Exploring the spooky side

Reports of many strange and unnatural activities that keep on happening at this place have attracted several ghost hunters and intrepid paranormal societies. People from different part of the world visit Kuldhara to see the dark and spooky side of the Rajasthan and try to unveil mysterious secrets, which in just one night made this place godforsaken for the rest of the years.

However, without the special permission of the caretakers of the village, no one can stay the night here. As the sun sets across the sand dunes, the gates of Kuldhara are closed by residents of neighbouring villages. After 6 pm, no tourists are allowed until today as locals believe that spirits still haunt the village after sunset.

Talking about their experience, Jaya Sahay, another member of the group Mukherjee visited Kuldhara with, says that she did feel uneasy around the evening. “A sudden chill sweeps over me. Was that because of the uneasiness of the place or the cool evening breeze of the desert? I’m not quite sure. But the legend and curse of Kuldhara definitely left me fascinated,” she adds.

“Though it is a haunted place, there is no need to panic in the daytime. One cannot feel any paranormal activities as far as our experience is concerned, especially during daytime and in a group with local guides,” reminds Sahay.



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