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Kuldhara, the Abandoned Village of an Aggrieved Indian Community

BY Bir Singh April 24, 2019
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Kuldhara village

Kuldhara village, Rajasthan. (Suryansh Singh / Wikimedia Commons)

Rajasthan, the Indian state with desert land, scrub forests, high rocks and hills, is also the land of the esoteric and the paranormal. Its folklores are flush with stories about ghosts and how the spirits live on to wreak vengeance, even after the physical body dies. Kuldhara, a village in Jaisalmer district is one such story. A prosperous community of this village was forced to leave their village. They did it under duress, with a heavy heart.

History of Kuldhara

The incident happened in 1825. Kuldhara was a stronghold of Paliwal Brahmins who had made their mark in business and agriculture. Even in water-scarce of desert land, they grew wheat and other water-intensive crops. They were good animal raisers and did business with Sindh (now in Pakistan) and other countries through the old silk route. They traded in food grains, poppy, indigo, ivory, and dry fruits on camel back. All was going hunky dory for the community till the Diwan of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh, came on the scene. He was Diwan of Jaisalmer, and a corrupted one. His lecherous gaze fell on the daughter of the village chief. The chief must marry his daughter to him; else face disastrous consequences, by way of punitive taxes.

For Paliwal Brahmins, it was a second major migration

The village chief had a Hobson’s choice. Marry his daughter to a debauch, or suffer a crushing tax burden. A council was held. The council of Kuldhara and neighbouring villages ruled that their daughter wouldn’t be given to a lout who already had 7 wives. Nor would they accept the taxes. They would rather move out with whatever they can carry easily. This was a second such crisis for the community. First happened at their erstwhile abode in Pali, Jodhpur. The king of Jodhpur, envious of their prosperity, increased their tax burden inordinately. That had forced their first migration. Now was the time for the second migration. Their tumultuous history was repeating itself.

Remains of houses in Kuldhara village.

Remains of houses in Kuldhara village. (Archan dave / Wikimedia Commons)

They left their homes and cursed village to remain deserted forever

So, on a dark night, there was a mass exodus of about over 1500 people from Kuldhara and adjoining 85 villages. They left their homes, and most of their belongings, and walked out in the wilderness. So discreet was the march that it went unnoticed.  It is believed that the community moved to Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. But while departing, they cursed the land they left behind. That it will never be populated. And, whosoever will try to settle here, will suffer their curse.

Most villages around Kuldhara, with their names altered, are colonized now. But Kuldhara and partly Khaba (home to Hindus displaced from Pakistan) still remain desolate.

Haunted looks and an eerie ambience

The curse of the oppressed Brahmins of Kuldhara has worked. There is a prevailing belief that whosoever tried settling in Kuldhara, was rattled by paranormal forces. With sunset, the place is closed for visitors. People in the neighbouring areas believe that supernatural forces descend in the village at the night time. The fact is corroborated by investigation of the paranormal society, New Delhi. Weird sounds, spooky shadows, damage to the parked vehicles and more such bizarre incidents occurred with people staying here beyond the day time.

The area is a promising tourist spot

The deserted sandstone houses of village bespeak of good architectural design. The remnants of 600 living homes, temple, wells, water reservoir, water ponds and public places reveal that the community had an aesthetic sense of living. The site is now supervised by the Archaeological Survey of India. Plans are underway for renovations to make this village visitor – friendly and an enjoyable tourist destination.

Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “Dhanushkodi: Where a Cyclone Ripped Apart an Entire South Indian Town, Rendering it Uninhabited“.


Fact Analysis:
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