On the Haunted Trail with Suryagarh, Jaisalmer

What would you say if someone offered to take you on a night trail to the haunted places around Jaisalmer? Well there were a Fortuner full of women bloggers (invited by Suryagarh) agreed to give it a try, your’s truly being one of them.

We were supposed to start at 11.30 pm but we were still at dinner till 12.20 am. I am getting old, by then I hassled everyone saying we should start or I would fall asleep right there! So, off we went a little past mid-night on a haunted trail! Locally it is also called the Chudail Trail.

We had our guide Paul and our driver Himmat Singh, both young lads. Himmat Singh is also a local. In all we made 4 stops and only twice they let us out of the car. The first stop was a village well towards Deda which is said to be a fight scene between the them king and the villagers. The king killed some villagers and threw them in the well. The well was supposed to be a good source of water and hence the fight. The well was then cursed by the surviving villagers and it remains so till date. They didn’t even open the car doors when we reached there. Before our approach we waited for a snake to cross the dirt track. What an appropriate start to a haunted trail!

The locals believe in the legends firmly. We went around asking everyone at the hotel later on if they believed too. Karan the manager of Suryagarh said he did, he could sense something around. Manvendra Singh Shekhawat, the owner of Suryagarh said he was not sensitive enough to feel these things. I think we bloggers also thought it was not too spooky. And I was glad for it.

But getting back to the story- to lift the curse there is now a Shiva temple at some distance from the well. We stopped there too and Paul let us out. It was a small temple and the main facade could be approached after climbing some steps. There were a few trees nearby. A gentle breeze blowing. The only light we had was the glow that our cell phone screens cast. Nearby there were shivlings supposedly made by people who actually saw ghosts. If anyone would have made a sudden move I for sure would have jumped. But no one did, thankfully.

An Unmarked Cremation Site near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

 An Unmarked (and Different) Cremation and Sati Site Near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Being a gang of girls we wanted to sit at the temple steps for a while. After a few minutes Himmat Singh asked us to hurry up. He was at a short distance away, waiting near the car. When we ignored him for a few more minute, buts he called us back urgently, there was an edge in his voice. We could not ignore it and all of us got inside the car once again.

Then we visited a small unmarked place where women committed sati 300-400 years back. That is how we Indians define dates, with a margin of error for a hundred years at least! It was a place full of small discarded stones which once would have marked the memorials. At night, in the headlights of a car anything can look spooky. The place for sure looked spooky. But then Himmat didn’t even release the lock on the car doors and turned back as fast as he could. We headed to our final stop, the abandoned village of Kuldhara.

Paul told us that they used to cover a few other places but some of the experiences were so intense that they stopped taking guests there. He also added that some of his foreign guests are interested in paranormal activity and they come specifically for this trail.

Khaba, Another Abandoned Village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Khaba, one of the 84 Abandoned Village Arund Kuldhara, Jaisalmer

I have been to Kuldhara during day and I know the legend. That the king (or a powerful knight in another version) eyed a Paliwal Brahman girl. So 84 villages were abandoned overnight. But this time I got to hear new things. Like, before leaving the Paliwals killed the girl and left her body behind in a home and we were going to enter that house at night. Paul also added that one of his foreign guest sensed paranormal activity on his visit to this very house. He stopped them from entering the house as he could see a “do not disturb” sign and three shadows having a discussion.

After hearing this story I found it a bit spooky to enter the house. But we all went in and came out intact. There was a small room in the house where we could smell bats. It had stairs leading to an underground room as well. Paul said it was a storage room and he has been there during day time. We went to the terrace as well, which was our final act of bravery. It was past 2.00 am by now and I was glad we headed back.

I was so tired by the end of the haunted trail that I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. I think remembering it and writing it is giving me more unease than the actual trip!

PS. I did not take any pictures at night, so the pictures you see in this post are of similar sites and not from the actual haunted trail.

PPS. Whatever I narrate are legends told to me. Personally I did not experience anything beyond the normal night time fear.

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I know this is a long post but I present Kuldhara Village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan as a part of Skywatch Friday.

Kuldhara an Abandoned Village at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Kuldhara an Abandoned Village at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

I managed to stay for 2 nights and 3 days at Jaisalmer courtesy Suryagarh Hotel. I was quite excited about the sand dunes in Jaisalmer but I had not even heard of Kuldhara Village before. Legend is that Paliwal Brahmins used to live in the village Kuldhara and they were quite a prosperous lot. The Samant or the King (various people stress one or the other) was giving them a tough time by charging high taxes. Push came to a shove when the ruler developed an eye for the Paliwal Chief’s daughter. The Paliwals decided to vacate Kuldhara overnight along with 84 other villages and Kuldhara is an abandoned village till date.

Temple at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

There is hardly any account of the place on the net (apart from a few other blog posts) about the village and the stories that the locals tell has minor variations to it. Also the time period when this happened cannot be predicted with certainty. It is said to have happened in 1825 or so. It amazes me how poor we are at keeping records of our history even as late as 1800. Coming back to the present, the entire area is in ruins apart from this temple that has now been renovated.  Both the pictures of the ruins have been clicked by climbing up a few rickety stairs of an old house in the area.

There is an entry fee of Rs 10 per person and Rs 50 per vehicle. There is one old man who lives here as the caretaker. The legend also has it that anyone who tries to live at Kuldhara dies in mysterious ways because the Paliwals cursed it when they left.

Graveyard at Kuldhara? Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Graveyard at Kuldhara? Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Our guide for the evening was none other than the owner of Suryagarh and a former Gladrags model Manvendra Singh Shekhawat. He mentioned that after Bombay he found Jaialmer really different and explored the nearby places while the hotel was being made to keep himself engaged. Jaisalmer was quite a transition from being, as he said, “a party boy.”

He knows the area well and takes a lot of pride in showing it. He took us beyond the village to the ruins that you can see in the picture above. When we asked what it was he said it was a graveyard. On a closer look we found inscriptions on the pillars and pictures too. So I said it cannot be graveyard because of that. He then mentioned that the two Chattaries (the bigger structures) are usually found near the graveyards.

Closer Look at the Structures at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Closer Look at the Structures at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Here is a closer looks at the pillars found at some distance from the village ruins. There was no one apart from our group at this place. And we could not have found it if Manvendra would not have taken us there. He also pointed out to a green patch and said it is full of water whenever it rains. When I asked him if he regretted giving up modeling he said not really as he managed to get closer to the nature only after coming to Jaisalmer.

Pillars with Inscriptions and Statues at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Pillars with Inscriptions and Statues at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

These are the writings and figures drawn on most of the pillars near the Kuldhara village in Jaisalmer. Another member of our team, Pallavi wondered if these could be actually Hindu burial grounds? I had hoped that maybe an internet search would give me some answers but that is not the case, so will leave you with speculations that we had.

Sunset at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Sunset at Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Finally, the sun went down and it was time to head back to the hotel. There was only one other vehicle in this complex and the people were somewhere out exploring the ruins. So it was all peace and quiet at Kuldhara and I was left wondering what really happened to this village.

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Mridula Dwivedi

I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!

If you wish to collaborate with me, please check out my media kit. You can write to me at mridulablog@gmail.com

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