Soon, stay overnight at ‘haunted‘ Kuldhara

JAISALMER: Considered haunted by locals, the historical village of , about 18km from here, may soon transform into a destination for tourists chasing thrill. With the Rajasthan department of archaeology and museums authorising the commercial use of cottages in the village, tourists will be able to stay overnight in this desolate, eerie 13th-century village.
The authorisation came as the department invited bids for the maintenance and upkeep of the village under public private partnership. The bidding ended on December 21.

Under the new arrangement, the selected bidders would also be allowed to run cafeterias, souvenir/museum shops, impose user charges on toilet blocks, and rent out the place to shoot films and documentaries.

Kuldhara, maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, was abandoned over 200 years ago by the Paliwal-Brahmins following harassment by the erstwhile ‘diwan‘ of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh. A popular tourist destination by day, Kuldhara empties out as dusk sets in. “This is a cursed village and therefore no one stays here at night,” said , a security guard at Kuldhara. “Even I tried to stay here with my family, but soon my wife and a daughter-in-law died while my son fell sick. I have since moved to a village nearby.”

In a bid to cash in on the stories of the haunted village, the Rajasthan government, in 2015, decided to develop the village with Jindal Steel Works. Within two years, the dilapidated structures have been replaced by a cobblestone walkway and freshly painted signage, with provisions for a cafeteria and a dance floor.

The first phase of restoration is about to be completed and the government now wants to hand over the village to a private firm.

The government move, however, has evoke mixed reactions. The patron of the Rajasthan tourist guides‘s association, Dr , said commercial activity was illegal in a protected place and said they would protest against it and felt if commercial activities were started at Kuldhara it would become a happening place. “However, people of Jaisalmer have feelings and faith attached to Kuldhara. They think giving it for commercial activity is not right,” he said.

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