The lure of the unknown has always been irresistible to humans; be it paranormal beings or the widely celebrated UFOs, we seem to have a never ending appetite for such stories. There is always something inexplicably fascinating about the various mysteries the world has to offer. Some of these mysteries are debunked, some fade away only to resurge in different forms, while the explanations for some remain hidden to our minds and eyes. The story of the small village of Kuldhara in Rajasthan is one such baffling mystery.
Situated about 15 kms to the west of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, is the hamlet of Kuldhara. It looks nothing different from any other village in the region, with narrow lanes and houses opening into the street, except for one thing – it is completely uninhabited. The last time people lived in this village was way back in the 18th century. Home to the prosperous clan of Paliwal Brahmins from 12th century, Kuldhara was a thriving township like many other in the state. However, on an ill-fated night in the year 1825, all the villagers suddenly deserted their homes and vanished into the night. Why the villagers left, where they went and where they settled down, is a mystery till date.
Many stories are popular in the region explaining this abrupt desertion, and one of the most popular theories is centred around the then Diwan of Jaisalmer. A man famous for his debauchery, it is said that he had set his sights on the village chief’s daughter. Folklore has it that in order to save his daughter from the evil Diwan, the village chief decided to move out of the village. The villagers followed suit to escape the Diwan’s wrath.
Another legend says that during the 13th Century, the Paliwals migrated from the then state of Jaisalmer to Kuldhara, due to the tyrannical behaviour of the King of Pali. It is said that the Paliwals were welcomed into the village with a brick and a gold coin – the brick to build their homes and the coin to start a business or farm. As the community began to prosper, it became an automatic target for Mughal invasions. In the 18th Century Kuldhara was raided and the animal carcasses ended up poisoning their wells, leading to the Paliwal Brahmins migrating out of the village overnight.
It is also believed that the Paliwal Brahmins laid a curse on the ghost town when they left, which is said to be the reason why the place has been uninhabited even after so many years. Curse or not, today Kuldhara is a popular tourist destination and is maintained as a heritage site by the Government of Rajasthan.