The abandoned village of Kuldhara

On our way to our camel safari, we visited the abandoned village called Kuldhara. The story here was that there was a community of Brahmins living here, and overnight the village was abandoned, early in the nineteenth century. It has never been inhabited since, as there is a myth of the place being cursed or haunted. This myth is encouraged by locals who have now developed the area as a tourist attraction. I am not sure about the truth behind the story we were spun here, but it was a fun story nonetheless, so I will do my best to remember what we were told.

Rajasthan was then ruled by the Maharaja, but the most power in the kingdom actually lay in the hands of Salim Singh, the “Deewan” or Prime Minister of the Maharaja of Jaisalmer. One day he visited Kuldhara and his eye was caught by the Chief’s daughter. He requested her hand in marriage, but was denied this due to his belonging to another caste. Salim Singh drank alcohol, ate meat and did many other things that were not acceptable to the devout Brahmins. However Salim, not accustomed to being told no, told the Chief that he would have his daughters hand in marriage with or without his blessing, and he was willing to use force if necessary. The local Brahmins were living well, and prosperously in relation to their harsh desert lives, however, they did not have the resources to fight against Jaisalmer’s most powerful man. Therefore they accepted his hand for the daughter of the Chief, but asked for some time to prepare for the marriage. This time was granted. As the story goes, the entire village and surrounding villages on Brahmins packed up and left, almost over night, and were never to be seen again.

Apparently this is not the only place in India that this story is told, and it is not certain if any one or either of them are true. Most historians suggest that the more likely story, is that the village was abandoned due to a lack of water in the area to support the villagers. But the other story is more interesting and scandalous, and obviously the preferred rhetoric of the camel guides in Jaislamer.

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