haunted village of Kuldhara

A day at the haunted village of Kuldhara

When my friends insisted that we visit the ghost village of Kuldhara as part of our Rajasthan itinerary, I was anything but keen.

I am a scaredy-cat. I have not watched a horror movie in my entire life. So, when my friends insisted that we visit the ghost village of Kuldhara as part of our Rajasthan tourism itinerary, I was anything but keen. Not that I believe in ghosts per se. But, if I had a choice, I would gladly not spend an evening in a haunted place. Since my friends were excited about visiting the ghost village, I didn’t have much say in the matter.

While driving towards Kuldhara from Jaisalmer, I googled about the place. That’s when I stumbled upon paranormal activities recorded there by the Indian Paranormal Society in 2014. I went through several of their news reports and YouTube videos. The team of experts had supposedly collected and recorded several anomalies—unexplained electromagnetic fields, static charges, variations in temperature to name a few. According to them, these pieces of evidence suggest that there really is something paranormal about Kuldhara, which cannot be explained by science. Maybe Kuldhara is indeed haunted, I found myself thinking. The very thought made me break out in a cold sweat.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we reached Kuldhara. My friends and I got off the car to explore the ruins on foot. Not many tourists were around, and the village looked eerie and deserted—just like a ghost town. We cut across a stretch of derelict houses with crumbling brick walls. We climbed a fleet of rickety stairs that led to an open terrace atop an old temple. The view from the top left me wondering how life must have thrived here once upon a time. I imagined children playing around in the spacious courtyards; I pictured men and women going about their daily chores, happy and contented. Just then, an old man with a wrinkled face appeared out of nowhere. To me, he seemed like a timeless apparition and I almost screamed. Thankfully, he was very much human—he introduced himself as Amar Singh, a tour guide, and sat us down on the terrace. He then went on to narrate the tragic tale of Kuldhara.

Before the darkness could engulf us, he guided us down the stairs and escorted us to where our car was waiting.

According to Singh, Kuldhara was once a prosperous place, home to the Paliwal Brahmins. But things became increasingly difficult for the people when Salum Singh, a lecherous Prime Minister of the king of Jaisalmer, laid his eyes on the Chief of Kuldhara’s beautiful daughter. Salum proposed marriage, but, not surprisingly, the chief of Kuldhara rejected it. Unable to handle the rejection, Salum sent an ultimatum to the chief that should his daughter not accept his hand in marriage within 24 hours, the people of Kuldhara would face serious consequences. The chief sent a letter to Salum requesting time to reconsider the proposal. Meanwhile, the people of Kuldhara, scared of the consequences and dishonour, hurriedly prepared to abandon the village altogether. According to our tour guide, the same night, the Paliwal Brahmins gathered whatever possessions they could, and abandoned the village, never to return. Before leaving, however, the people cursed the village. Since then, Kuldhara has been uninhabited by man. It is now believed that this village is home to ghosts and evil spirits.

By the time Singh finished the story, it was already dusk. From the terrace, I could see the setting sun casting shadows upon the ruins of the once-prosperous village. Before the darkness could engulf us, he guided us down the stairs and escorted us to where our car was waiting. As we got into the car, I felt a wave of relief washing over me. “There was nothing ghostly about the place, was there? Kuldhara doesn’t seem haunted…” one of my friends commented as we pulled away. She then informed us that the Rajasthan tourism board is looking to renovate Kuldhara to the way it was 200 years ago. Soon, cafes and restaurants will cater to tourists who wish to stay overnight. Is it possible then, that Kuldhara is not really haunted? I mused. Perhaps the ghosts have fled as more and more humans are now haunting the place… I thought to myself, smiling.


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