The big three apart, Jaisalmer has host of other attractions to keep its visitors busy for another day or two. There s Kuldhara, Khaba Fort, Lodurva, Bada Bagh, Gadisar Lake, Desert Cultural Museum and Jaisalmer War Museum. If you are staying overnight in desert camp, then it is a good idea to start your next day with a visit to Khaba Fort followed by Kuldhara, Lodurva, Bada Bagh, Gadisar Lake and Desert Cultural Museum. The last one has a show in the evening so anyways it makes sense to visit it at that time.
Jaisalmer War Museum lies on the way to Jodhpur so it is good to explore it while travelling between the two cities.
In this post let me talk about two attractions in a little detail – Kuldhara and Khaba Fort.
The Story of Kuldhara
Around 15-20 kms from Jaisalmer, Kuldhara is a village that was abandoned in the early 19th century. It is mostly in ruins now. The popular tale associated with the place recounts the story of the villagers – Paliwal Brahmins – who decided to leave Kuldhara so as to prevent the cruel Prime Minister, Salim Singh’s, marriage to a girl of their village.The villagers were opposed to the marriage but were acutely aware that if nothing was done, the powerful Prime Minister would eventually have his way.
It is believed that residents of around 84 villages, all Paliwal Brahmins, left their houses and belongings and went away overnight without Salim Singh getting a whiff of it. Before leaving, however, they cursed that nobody would ever be able to live in Kuldhara again. Since then Kuldhara lies vacant and is considered haunted.
The story, though popular, is not the only one. There are other reasons given for the villagers’ decision to leave their home altogether. It is said that the receding water table of the region adversely affected the residents. Clubbed with this, the increased tax levied by Salim Singh made life difficult for them. Hence they decided to go away.
Still another version states that it was actually an earthquake that ruined Kuldhara. Whatever the reason, in recent times, Kuldhara, along with Bhangarh ( which is also believed to be haunted) has emerged as a tourist hotspot.
The Experience of Kuldhara
Upon reaching, a big gate welcomes visitors into the village. Entry fees is quite reasonable and vehicles are allowed inside the village. Close to entrance there is the Jurassic Cactus Garden with different variety of the plant. Opposite to the garden is a small stall selling water and a little bit of refreshment.
Within, the village looks pretty much organised. Houses are built on both sides of road. Most of them , though in ruins, appear to be single storey structures. A few which have stood the test of time give a glimpse of houses in Kuldhara. From the roof of one particular house, you can have a look at the village entirely. Exploring further, you will come across wells, stepwells and a temple.
Depending upon your interest and time, you can decide to spend a little bit or a little more time in Kuldhara. For me, though, Kuldhara was extremely interesting to know about and explore.
Khaba – A Small Fort and Village Ruins
Around 20-30 minutes drive from Kuldhara brings you to Khaba. The place has a small fort which once served as a trading outpost. Though neither very big nor in a very good condition, the fort makes for a good visit. There is a small museum inside that displays fossils. Unlike Kuldhara, Khaba is not thronged by visitors. Chances are that on your visit, you will be the sole visitor or one of the few visitors in the fort. This despite the fact that Khaba promptly pops up every time you look up the Internet for places to visit in Jaisalmer. The fort is best visited during sunrise and sunset when a number of peacocks and peahens come here.
From the fort you can also catch a glimpse of the ruins of the village below (just like Kuldhara). The village was also abandoned by its residents comprising Paliwal Brahmins. Perhaps, it was one of the many villages that was deserted along with Kuldhara.
Apart from the attractions covered in this article and The Most Popular places to visit in Jaisalmer, there are still other options that you can explore in the city. Check them out in Jaisalmer – More to Explore