The Ghost town of KULDHARA near Jaisalmer

  • By Kamlesh Tripathi
  • October 5, 2023
  • Know about the ghost town of Kuldhara i.e. about 18 kms from Jaisalmer.

Ghost towns and villages always hold us in thrall. One such village is Kuldhara, located about 18 km southwest of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. There, when you stand under the blazing sun, you will not see a single human dwelling all the way to the horizon.


Rajasthan has no dearth of ghost villages that remain unpeopled for various reasons. But only a few of them have got as much attention as Bhangarh and Kuldhara, perhaps, due to the myths attached to them.


To see album of Bhangarh Fort


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal.

Ruins of Kuldhara village. 2013.

Kuldhara certainly has a story to tell. It happened in the 18th century, when Kuldhara was a prosperous village, inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. The legend goes that the roving eyes of Salim Singh, the all-powerful tyrannical Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, fell on the beautiful daughter of the village head. He tried to marry her by force and when the villagers resisted, he threatened them with grave consequences.


The Paliwals held a meeting where it was decided that instead of acceding to the demands of the depraved Salim Singh, they would abandon their village to save the honour of the girl. But before departing they cast a powerful curse on Kuldhara, that no one else would ever be able to settle and prosper in the village. It is said that the villagers deserted the place overnight.


From that day onwards, the village was completely deserted. Many stories have been told about this ‘haunted’ village ever since— ghosts walking about at night, spooky sounds and strange deaths.    


A parallel story is that Salim Singh, upon not being obliged by the Paliwals, jacked up the taxes to such an extent that it became practically unbearable for the local community to survive in the village. So they decided to migrate to greener pastures.


However, people are more inclined to believe the first story that has a tinge of bedevilled romance and mysticism in it. There are also murmurs that the village was abandoned in the early 19th century for reasons such as dwindling water supply and an earthquake but the story of Salim Singh holds more credence.

Ruins of a temple in Kuldhara. 2013. Step-well in Kuldhara. 2013.

The dilapidated and tale-telling houses and monuments are now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). One can enter the village only after purchasing a ticket. One can drive along the main street and it is sad to see the houses with fallen roofs. The ruined walls give you the sense of a melancholic past. The entire landscape is dry, dusty and hot.


In the centre of the ghost village, visitors can view a house that is in a better condition than the others. If one climbs up to the roof, the entire hamlet is visible from there.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 16 September 2023 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.


Gadisar Lake in Jaisalmer is a must visit. Best time shortly after sunrise. 

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