Haunted Trails – Through the heart of Thar

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Take a trip down the memory lane; think back  to some of the most thrilling moments of your childhood. More often than not, it would conjure up images of sharing  haunted stories! Some would have been  around the bonfires during winters, some when there was no electricity and one would resort to the most befitting past-time in the dark and some during school hours, just for the kicks. The setting would change, but our love for them wouldn’t.

Even when we fought and argued over them being myths and stories, we would feel scared, clutch onto the nearest person, close our eyes in fear and scream, making the atmosphere even scarier. The bewitching lady in the white saree with long hair, the newly married witch in her red wedding outfit and houses that no one would occupy because one could hear screams and voices in there; we all have had our favourites. Horror stories strike a chord with each one of us. But have you ever travelled to a place that is home to few such spooky and eerie tales and experiences?

A land marked by fortified ruins and a sprawling desert,the Thar desert (word desert one after the other. Should use Rajasthan here to optimise for search) is as mystical as it can get. Jaisalmer, a World Heritage site, and known for its rich cultural heritage, hides around it some of the scariest haunted places. The outskirts of the town is marked by miles and miles of desolate stretches and can fire the imagination of even the most unimaginative ones amongst  us. The haunts with its ghosts and the characteristic eeriness are a well-kept secret and revealed only to those who search for it. And to do that one has to muster up enough courage to embark on the chudail trail or the ghost trail, a one-of-its-kind experience by our  residential team in Jaisalmer.  A midnight adventure with stories combined with the stillness of the dead of the night, definitely makes for a hair-raising experience.

The story of the village of Kuldhara is the most talked about in this region. This area was once occupied by the Paliwal Brahmins, a very prosperous and a peace loving clan. The story goes that a local king / minister cast an evil eye on the village chieftain’s daughter and gave the villagers an ultimatum to marry her off to him by the next day or get burdened with huge taxes. Overnight, all the villagers from Kuldhara and nearby 83 other villages disappeared, never to return. It is said that they did so to protect their honour but cast a curse over anyone who tried to inhabit it again. The villagers left behind all their belongings which over the years were stolen and taken away. It is said that the cursed belongings led to mishaps and deaths wherever these looted items were housed and they were then returned to the village. The village has an eerie desolate character and looks more so in the night.

Then there is another folklore about a haunted oasis close to the Dera village, a site for a bloody tiff between the villagers and the king in the region. The king got some villagers killed and drowned here and it has been cursed since then. This place is quite spooky and the locals shy away from even visiting this area around the well.

There is also a sati (a practice where women  burnt themselves alive on their husband’s funeral pyre) site aspart of the trail, where around 400 women have been said to be burnt alive. The funeral site was all dug up to steal the ornaments these women would be wearing during sati and one can see the area dug up as such around.

Quite a few locals have seen and heard men and women wandering around in this area, just to disappear into the stillness of the desert. One may never know the authenticity of these stories but they sure add to the mystery and enigma of the desert town that Jaisalmer is.

This is definitely not an experience for the faint hearted, but it is also an experience without which your desert sojourn would be quite incomplete. Just make sure you are not embarking on it all by yourself!

Kuldhara

Kuldhara

Kuldhara

Kuldhara

Kuldhara

Kuldhara

What’s your memory of a haunted story, or a spooky experience?  We are keen to have your comments below.

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