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Vanished Without a Trace – A Clan of 84 Villages

TIME: Around 13th century.

PLACE: Rajasthan

PARADIGM: Extremely Caste Conscious Social Hierarchy


Kuldhara is village outside Jaisalmer.  It was the home of Paliwal Brahmins.

Every region, has its unstated pecking order. In large urban places, the net-worth of an individual is more important in defining his social standing. In highly religious societies this standing may come from visits to places of pilgrimage. In Hunting societies, this comes from the feats and trophies collected in a man’s life. Paradigms vary. And in Rajasthan, in those days too, Caste was the primary definer of a person’s identity.

Marriages were all arranged at that time as people married at the onset of their reproductive phases.

And marrying a girl to a caste lower than one’s own was unthinkable.

The ruler of the region in which Kuldhara lies, was from the Warrior class as always.

Once, when one of the warrior ministers visited this village he saw a young girl and wanted to marry her. As the castes were different the Kuldhara Brahmin family did not agree and this caused the ruler to threaten the people with dire consequences.

That night the chief of the village called a meeting with the chiefs of the 84 other adjoining villages who were also of the Paliwal Brahmin Clan.


Together they decided that rather than lose one’s honor by giving the girl in marriage to a man of a lower caste, they would take drastic measures.

Overnight they packed up their belongings and left.  No prior notice and no forwarding address.

No one knows where the people of these 84 villages resettled.

Here are pictures of the abandoned village.




Walking through the eerie silence of the village at sunset I could almost feel the lives of the people, the hustle & bustle that once was. The morose silence that must have descended opon the village that night as the people braced themselves to carry out that difficult decision, hangs over the village like an eerie mist even today.



May 2014


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