Kuldhara - Curse of the Exodus


Where people used to celebrate festivals, sit together in the night alongside the bon fire and which was once an oasis in the Thar Desert, is now an abandoned spot. Along with Bhangarh, this place Kuldhara is considered as one of the most haunted and cursed place. But, Why...?

Something had happened one night when all the residents from Kuldhara had abandoned the place; however they left a curse that this place will never be inhabited again. The curse stays till date...

Most of the curiosity is centered on the main village of Kuldhara where the head of Paliwal clan used to live. However, there are 84 more villages around Kuldhara which are also lying abandoned till date.
Haunted lanes

If we take a plunge into the history lanes, all the abandoned places have been flourishing centers in various time zones, some of them were way ahead of then civilizations. This is true for Bhangarh and I believe the same for Kuldhara too. So first investigate the history of Kuldhara: Around 13th century, Paliwal clan migrated from Pali to settle in Kuldhara due to tyranny of the Pali king. Majority of the clan members were believed to have been brahmins, so mention of Paliwals come as Paliwal brahmins most of the times -

  • With their knowledge and enterprising nature they turned Kuldhara (and 84 villages around Kuldhara) into a flourishing place for trade and commerce activities. 
  • The farmers were adept in cultivating crops like wheat in the desert lands. It’s true, they were masters in identifying rock layers underneath the sand which could hold the required quantity of water for cultivation. Such was effluence built into the region that each new family was welcomed with a brick and a gold coin from every other family in the village. Brick was meant to build a house and gold coin to start a livelihood. I have not heard of such levels of prosperity and brotherhood in the history of mankind.

Then the question is why these people deserted this prosperous place. Some legends behind this: 

  1. The prosperity of Kuldhara had become a thorn in the eyes of Mughals/ other invaders. It is said that in the 18th century, a raid from the invaders resulted in the exodus of the  entire community from the Kuldhara area. It is believed that all the water sources and wells got poisoned due to dead animal carcasses, While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara, which stays till date. 

  2. Once a prime minister of the region (Jaisalmer),  Diwan Salim Singh got captivated by a beautiful girl of this community and wanted to marry her.  When his proposal was not approved by the community, he threatened Kuldhara residents with dire consequences. To preserve their dignity and keep honor intact, people from Kuldhara and nearby 84 villages made an exit in one night (around 1825 - 1830). While leaving, a curse was put on the Kuldhara that this place will never see any inhabitation, which stays till date. 

  3. Taxes were increased by the government/ king to such an extent that residents had no option but to leave.

Widely believed and accepted reason is the 2nd one. However when looking at the condition of the houses, it looks highly improbable that this desertion took place only 200 years back. None of the houses have roof or even a part of roof intact. Houses look like they are lying in this state for much more than 2 centuries. Other reason to question this belief is that this was a peaceful exit, and residents took with them only bare necessary stuff and there was no fight. 

This cart got left behind, most probably there were no animals left to drive this.

So structure of the houses should have remained intact, albeit with gradual deterioration with time. One house which is said to be of the head of the tribe has roof intact. Belief and logic do not coincide here, mystery is still unsolved.

Underground tunnels, which no one has dared to explore...
House is being renovated by ASI

I personally feel that something related to reason no. 1 is more appropriate. Generally raiders/ invaders after looting, used to destroy everything, India is a witness to many such raids. Whatever be the reason, the status of Kuldhara as a paranormal activity infested place is intact. Visitors to this place often complaint of uneasiness, touching on shoulders and sudden drop and rise in temperatures.

Around 19 km. from Kuldhara is Khaba fort, which again was abandoned along with the Kuldhara. Now ASI has taken over and converted it into a museum with ancient artifacts on display.

Walking around this fort gives a feeling associated with minimal human activity; however, one can find lot of peacocks around this fort. From top of this fort one can another abandoned village with all the houses in ruins. This village was inhabited by around 80 families and got abandoned along with Kuldhara.

Now Paliwals reside in many parts of the country and doing well, but some of them do not celebrate Rakshabandhan till date. It is believed that Kuldhara was abandoned on the day of Rakshabandhan.

The place is different and not so popular in the tourist circles, only visitors are inquisitive souls like us. Situated at 23 Kms. from Jaisalmer City, one can hire auto rickshaw or taxi to Kuldhara. However, to include Khaba fort in your visit itinerary, better hire a taxi. 

Keep exploring Folks.

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.


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  1. Very interesting place. And an equally interesting story/piece of history. This is the first time one has heard of this place which has apparently had a wonderful past, it would seem. Greeting 'outsiders' with a brick and gold coin is a fascinating nugget in a well-narrated diary. Also interesting are the 'legends' behind the desertion of the place.

    1. Thanks Sir for dropping by and your wonderful comment.
      India has lot of many such places, where we have a fantastic history associated with it. Custom of greeting 'outsiders' was told by some very elderly people in that region.

  2. you found a gem paji..:)

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