Ghost, does the word and stories around it cause twitch in your body? Do you fear ghosts or are you the unflinching one? When I was a kid, I was always frightened of paranormal stories. I was never a fan of Zee horror show or Aahat. Sometimes, when I watched an episode because of my brother’s interest, I would then sleep in my parents’ room. I considered them as my heroes who would act as shields against any kind of ghosts. I remember my father used to tease me, “What if it comes through the widow of our room?” I used to say innocently, “You would deal with it first and make it run away.” I never openly admitted to my friends that I am not fond of ghost stories. You see, they would talk about it even more, and try to have fun at my expense. That is what friends are for, right?
Am I still scared of such stories? Yes and No. Well, I do not anymore sleep with my parents if I have had discussions on ghosts or watched any such movie. I now have the courage to watch spine-chilling movies (No, I do not mean the best of horror flicks, no way!) or listen to “Ek Kahani Aisi Bhi” on radio. Well, the latter is most of the times not that scary. It is a part of growing up, I guess. However, I do continuously chant Hanuman Chalisa on such nights before I fall asleep…..
I recently went on a trip to Jaisalmer. While I was booking my safari to the desert, the itinerary mentioned a visit to the abandoned village of Kuldhara, which has paranormal activities linked with it. The word paranormal caught my eye and a simple Google search revealed the history of the cursed village. As per legends, the King of the state had intentions to marry the daughter of the Chief of the village forcefully. He threatened the villagers of dire consequences if they do not agree to the marriage. The villagers did not wish to surrender to the King, and therefore one night abandoned the village and vanished. The belief says that before leaving, they put a curse on the village, that no one would be able to inhabit it ever. Post the incident, anyone trying to stay in the village has hurtled out experiencing strange phenomena.
I would have considered all this hearsay had I not come across an article mentioning that the Delhi Paranormal Society acknowledges the presence of supernatural powers in the village. Umm, this made me nervous about my trip to the village. They say that no one can survive the night. However, this team did see the light of the day. (Ever wondered, why all such stories are related to darkness and night!?) Moreover, I would have my shields, my heroes with me in the trip, and we would go in the daytime, so it was a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement.
Kuldhara is about 15 kms away from Jaisalmer and falls on the way to the desert dunes. We shared our jeep ride with a couple from Australia and to stimulate the excitement, I narrated the story of the village we were about to visit. The woman was too thrilled to hear the history and was all set to hit the haunted village. As we entered the premises, only after paying the entry fee (for the jeep as well), what we saw was a dilapidated village. The place will definitely give you an eerie feeling, it was all deserted and in complete ruins. Paranormal or not, anyone would be psychologically frightened to spend a night in such a place.
As we went deep into the village, our driver cum guide told us something that stole my thunder away! Yeah, he said all these stories about supernatural powers are nonsense. The villagers abandoned the place due to scarcity of water. As the river nearby dried up, it affected the trade and cultivation and villagers decided to settle somewhere else. I was like, but I read it, they conducted experiments with scientific techniques and all, to which he replied, “Your wish, what do you want to believe, false stories or reality.” We got out of the car (a bit dejected) to explore the place. As you wander in the village, you would definitely wonder about the sudden end of inhabitancy. The shattered houses and the missing idols from the temple would increase your curiosity even more.
There were a few locales of the state sitting around and observing the tourists. My inquisitive mind led to the following conversation with one of them-
“Bhaiya yaha bhooth aate hai?” (Do ghosts exist here?)
“Hamare poorvarj rehte thei yaha, aajatak toh nahi suna ya dekha.” (My ancestors lived here; never heard or seen such a thing).
“Toh sab jhooth bolte hai” (Do people lie then?)
“Aap ghum lo pehle, phir baat karna” (Go roam around the place and then talk to me)
After I finished the tour of the village, he asked me-
“Dikhe aapko bhooth, aapko lagta hai yaha kuch aisa hoga” (Did you see the ghosts, do you think such incidents occur here?)
I smiled to this and his next words had a powerful meaning
“Asli bhooth toh insaan hi hota hai” (Real ghosts are humans themselves)
What he told me thereafter was another story about the sudden disappearance of the villagers. After the discovery of a lot of gold in the area, the governing body forced the villagers to leave the place. The governors wanted all the treasure for themselves and thus the place now stands in ruins. Are you as a reader, disappointed with the not so haunted outcome of my journey? Think of me, who visited the place with all the anxiousness. Me, who unnecessarily built up all the excitement for the Australians too. It is up to you to believe or not in supernaturalism; it is up to you to believe in any of the above legends about the village. We continued with our journey and the picturesque sunset in the heart of the desert made us forget about all the spookiness.