Drive 18 km west of Jaisalmer and you will come upon the village of Kuldhara.Looks like the royalty of Rajasthan had made an art of killing the geese that laid golden eggs for them.The ruins of Kuldhara exhibit the architectural, excellence of those times, which was buried under dunes till recently.This is one of the most bizarre stories of human migration one can hear was in 1825.
The Paliwals made their fortune by the sheer brilliance of their business and agricultural acumen. They knew the art of growing a water intensive crop like wheat in the Thar desert; they could identify areas with gypsum rock layers running under the ground surface to ensure water was retained for the crops. The rulers depended on the Paliwals for much of their tax revenues.
The Prime Minister, or the dewan, is believed to have developed a lecherous eye for the chief’s daughter, it is said the Paliwal women were in general stunningly beautiful. He may even have imposed unreasonable taxes on them. With pride and honour overruling all worldly interests, the chiefs of the 84 villages decided to go away in a single night with whatever they could carry with them.
Somewhere in the middle of the main market of Jaisalmer, below the fort, you will find Bhatia News Agency. If you are approaching the fort gate from Hanuman Chowk, you will find this shop on your right.
Don't be put off by the glitzy magazines and cheap vernacular `how to' books that line the store outside. Walk in, and start your search from among a huge lot of books, both old and new. The categorisations do leave room for improvement, but ensures you earn your bargain in the process. Setting aside the coffee table glitzies on Rajasthan, Art and Kama Sutra aside, you are bound to hit jackpot, dependent on your preference.
I managed to pounce on a first edition of a Shashi Tharoor novel (marked price GBP 6.99) that I'd been hunting for some time; also managed to take away a brand new print of Paul Theroux's `The Great Railway Bazar'. At INR 65 for the former, and INR 200 for the latter, they were complete steals.
And now for the icing on the cake. If you happen to spend some time at Jaisalmer, and intend returning your book after reading, the owner shall gladly take it back, and refund you 50% of your purchase price, irrespective of when you return it.
One more village which is not very famous is Khaba Fort. This is also one of the 84 abandoned village which was vacated overnight by the people after the dispute with the king and is much better then Kuldhara. The Khaba Fort is also giving you good sight of the village. The stones used in this village are of different color then Kuldhara village. This village has got more close knit houses and a big temple in between.
Its around 12 kms away from Kuldhara Village. It also leads straight back to the Sam road.
there are various safari you can choose from from an evening sunset and dinner to overnight,from one day to days ahead....we went for an overnight safari,we were taken by a jeep to the outskirts of jaisalmer there the camels were waiting for us we had a 2 hour ride and reached the dunes where we would be halting for a night...the sun was about to set so we got sometime to play in the sand....we were 5 people who set together and 4 people had started early morning,we would meet in the same place for dinner as we were from the same agency....we awere two indians two irish two french one from uk and two canadian...we enjoyed the sunset took some photographs...then settled around the camp fire...introduced each other had loads of fun chatted away till late night had food and slept under the stars thought it will be cold but with two quilts and a blanket we did not feel the cold...next morning got up early to catch the sunrise had breakfast....then we had another two hour camel ride the race was fun my camel was too smart he was the leader always ahead of everyone actually i was scared coz all the group would lag behind with my camel trotting away to glory and at one point when the group was far behind he sat down till they caught up...ha ha ...the jeep was waiting for us and we drove back to jaisalmer....you can reach Mr Bissa(Mr Desert) of sahara travels
As per our guide the story of this village is during the ministership of Salim singh,Salim singh once visiting this village his eyes fell on this young girl and wanted to get married,she was a Paliwal Brahmin , he went to her father and asked her hand in marriage and gave them the ultimatum to decide with in aweek,the villagers were not satisfied with the offer so one night 80 odd villages were abandoned overnight no body has any clue where they went.. i do not know whether this story is fact or fiction but there is one more info on these villagers..
History of Paliwal brahmins: Paliwals, originally Brahmins, were native inhabitants of Pali a small kingdom in the Thar desert .Sometime in 13th century, due to the meddling of the King of Pali into their everyday affairs and his atrocities, they migrated to a Village called Kuldhara in Jaisalmer. This is the first time when they were called Paliwal. Here they settled into 84 villages around the town of Jaisalmer.Paliwals were very benevolent people with a strong sense of community. Over a period, with the help of each other and collective trading practices with external traders, Paliwals prospered again. Their prosperity became famous and that caused them to become targets of Mughal invasions.Paliwals bravely fought off most of these invasions until the last one sometime in 18th century. It is not clear who the invader was but the day was Raksha-bandhan. A large number of paliwals were martyred. The war went on for days. On the last day, this Mughal invader ordered to put animal carcasses into all the wells which Paliwals used to get their water from. This caused this staunch religious Brahmin community to migrate from these villages. Overnight, they left the villages of Kuldhara and moved to other places. They also seemed to have left a curse on the village. The fear of which, stops the locals from venturing near these villages even till date.
After visiting the Parshvanath Temple at Lodurva, our driver took us to this little desert village called Chhatrel where he lived and where he was picking up his sister from and dropping her off at some wedding ceremony elsewhere. We wandered around the village which was split into two parts based on the Hindu and Muslim religions. The village featured traditional homes made out of mud and dung and topped with sticks as well as houses made out of more western/conventional materials such as bricks and concrete. This is what I had hoped to see whilst in India and I loved seeing how they were built as well as meeting the families who lived in them.
Next stop after Bada Bagh was Lodurva which was the ancient capital of the Bhattis Rajputs. It was once a flourishing city but lost most of its splendour when the Bhattis shifted their capital to Jaisalmer in the 12th century. The city is much older than Jaisalmer and was sacked several times, most notably by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century when he was en route to Somnath, and then by Mohammad Ghori in the next century. The latter invasion persuaded Jaisal to abandon Lodurva, and he shifted his capital to Jaisalmer, making Bhoj the last ruler of Lodurva.
There's not much to see in the area today except for a couple of temples in which the Parshvanath Temple is the most notable. The Parshvanath Temple is the main Jain temple which predates the temples of Jaisalmer just as the town itself is more ancient. The temple was destroyed in 1152, but was reconstructed in 1615 by Seth Tharu Shah and further additions were commissioned in 1675 and 1687. Its Torana Dwar or main archway is probably the most ornate of its kind in Rajasthan and interestingly, the sentry outside (an elderly guy who you pay and who watches over your shoes) is a Rajput and not a Jain. The inner sanctum of the temple contains an image of the prophet Parshvanath (the 23rd Jain Tirthankar) in black stone with a multi-hooded serpent canopy. The whole complex was renovated in the 1970's and the temples are gleamingly clean and fresh which really shows off their beautiful golden sandstone carvings. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues.
After visiting Bada Bagh, our next stop on our car tour as part of our camel trek was a place called Ramkunda which is about 12km from Jaisalmer. Here, there is a temple that was built by Maharani Mansukhi Devi in the 17th century and is dedicated to Lord Ram. The temple features beautifully carved out of yellow sandstone, statues of four-armed Ganesh, Mahisasur and Bheru. It is the oldest Ram temple of the desert. The temple monument itself has some inscriptions written on the walls and outside on the Govardhan Pillars which were added to the complex in the early 18th century. No one was there when we visited so we had the whole place to ourselves which made a change as temples are usually very crowded in India. It looks as though a priest lives here as we saw cooking pots and empty cans in a kitchen area.
The Bada Baga (meaning Big Garden) is located about 6km north of the fort on the horizon with the wind farm located behind it. This was the first place I visited on my camel trek. It was built by Maharawal Jait Singh II between 1513 and 1528 and completed by his son Lunkaran, after his death. The Bada Bagh complex consists of a tank, a dam, a garden and the Chhatries (cenotaphs) of the Bhatti dynasty. These memorials represent a combination of Paliwal, Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The site of the Chhatries is also called the Sunset Point.
Lodurva, the ancient capital of the Bhattis, is 16 km from Jaisalmer. Its ruins are visited for the great Jain temple and the Kalpataru, a mythical tree of wish fulfillment. Lodurva has a great number of peacocks that hover around the temple walls lending spectacular colour to the dry and stony landscape.
The Parshvanath Temple is the main Jain temple which predates the temples of Jaisalmer just as the town itself is more ancient. The temple was destroyed in 1152, but was reconstructed in 1615 by Seth Tharu Shah and further additions were commisssioned in 1675 and 1687. Its Torana Dwar or main archway is probably the most ornate of its kind in Rajasthan. The inner sanctum of the temple contains an image of the prophet Parshvanath in black stone with a multi-hooded serpent canopy.
Entrance Fee Rs 10 Camera Rs 50
Kuldhara is a ghost town outside of Jaisalmer. The people of Kuldhara left this town overnight and it is said that they left a curse. Even today some locals would not enter this town. Don't expect to much from this town, as most of the buildings have been destroyed.
Entrance is 50 Rp per Vehicle and 10 Rp per person.
Watch out when you enter the house with all descriptions. There are hundreds of bats in one of the rooms.
5km outside of Jaisalmer you can find Bada Bagh. Here you can find cenotaphs of former maharajahs. Those are beautifully carved sandstone monuments, some of them sadly damaged by an earthquake. Explore the cenotaphs carefully. For example you can see how many wifes each maharajah had.
Entrance is 50 Rp and Camera Fee is 20 Rp. Take a taxi, hire a rickshaw or rent a jeep to get there.
This fascinating desert village, located near sand dunes, lies 50 km south-west of Jaisalmer. Its huts, typical of the desert regions of Rajasthan, are brilliant examples of folk design, at once highly functional (they are designed to withstand 48 degree temperatures and 80 Kms per hour desert winds) as well as being highly esthetic. Made of clay mixed with cow dung, each hut is actually a complex of different functional spaces around a central courtyard, the whole of which-walls, floor and rooms-seems to be molded out of one single piece of clay. Their strikingly decorative folk art, ornate papiermache storage systems and mandana floor patterns are not to be missed.
There are some Guest house for over night Camal safari real test of Desert.Now a days Khuri is the best place for Camal Safari around Jaisalmer or in Rajasthan.They offer you Camel safari, Dinner with Folk Dance and sleeping under the stars get more fun.
As camel safaris are big business in Jaisalmer, different parties take you to different routes. My advice is to choose a different destination to San dunes which is an extremely popular spot for travellers if you are after peace and solitude.
I recommend getting a jeep ride at the beginning of the trek, so you save forty or fifty km of pain in your behind. We did a different trek to some dunes and some empty villages in ruins and we did not see any fellow travellers for the whole two days.