Kuldhara, the haunted abandoned village, lies some 15 kms west of Jaisalmer (the golden-sand-desert city of Rajasthan). The village inhabited by Paliwal brahmins in around 18th century was a prosperous village. It was a well laid town consisting of 84 villages. The roads laid in cardinal directions were wide and there were separate domestic and commercial areas, temples, parking spaces and step-wells for the water supply.
The Paliwal brahmins were a rich community because of their business acumen and agricultural know-how. They could cultivate the desert land and keep up an independent food supply to all the villages. The king had levied huge taxes but he was a week king. His minister the cruel Diwan Salem Singh was more active in running the kingdom. The diwan had a roaming eye and a beautiful damsel , the daughter of village head became the object of his fascination. He proposed marriage to the village head but his reputation was not what the Brahmins wanted in an ideal husband for their daughters. The villagers in a bid to save their honor and to escape from the wrath of the diwan wrapped up their belongings and overnight vanished from the village. The diwan sent his men the next day in search but could never find them. The story also goes that the villagers cursed the village before leaving.
The villages are now in ruins with a few original construction still holding up but it has now been taken up for conservation and given the status of heritage site. Village head’s house and temple have been almost completely renovated. A short trip from Jaisalmer by road takes the visitors to the now protected site. It deserves a visit to get an idea of the expanse of the ruins which was once a thriving hub of agriculture and business. The stone shelves wedged in walls, some of the artifacts used then, the room sizes, the carvings in sandstone…all are worth a look to imagine what life would have been in those villages back in 18th century.
A new resort by the same name has come up which gives a glimpse of village life and a taste of local cuisine.