“If you are delighted to be in ancient ruins, you are either a curious historian or a romantic person!”― Mehmet Murat ildan
Actually, I’m not an avid historian but history is the second most powerful force that enchants me always, nature being the first. It guides and propels, many of my travel decisions. Rajasthan offers you both in abundance. May be this is the reason behind my love for Rajasthan. My December 2019, trip to Rajasthan was very satisfying and wonderful. I simply lived history there. This story is about a stopover enroute to Sam Sand Dunes.
It was a mild warm noon of late December in Jaisalmer. We were going to Sam Sand Dunes for desert safari. We had first encountered with a very large swarm of locusts, coming all the way from deserts of Pakistan.
About 32 km from the city of Jaisalmer, there is Khabha, a ruined village. The ancient citadel of Khaba dates back to the 13th century, set amidst a barren desert village. Shrouded in mystery and awe, the Khaba Fort is yet another enchanting fort in Jaisalmer. The ancient fort in the Khaba village takes you to the depths of rich history of the village. The fort also houses a museum which exhibits some artifacts and even fossils too.
The Khaba Fort was the Sarai Fort (where one can stay). The traders who entered Rajasthan via the Silk trade Route used to stay inside this fort. After paying taxes, they were allowed to go ahead for trade.
“A ruin should always be protected but never repaired – thus may we witness full the lingering legacies of the past.” ― Walter Scott
Stroll downstairs to the village behind fort and imagine a time when it was the focal point of a prosperous village life. The ruins of the houses, deserted for over 200 years, are simply astonishing. Once the prosperous Paliwal Brahmin community abandoned their villages, all of sudden, for some unknown reasons (although no official record of the mass evacuation is found), the Khaba village is yet another spooky places Rajasthan has to offer (Bhangarh being one of the most haunted place in India. Read my experience of Bhangarh by clicking here).
Ever since, the ruins of the village, considered haunted, have been closed to tourists after sunset. Although, I didn’t see any such notice board here, as it was in Bhangarh. Once here, you can have a glance at the ruins of the abodes of around 80 families that used to live here, centuries ago. The whizzing wind gives the place a spooky feel. It seems like a magical spell is still prevailing in the air, as abandoned over two centuries ago, the place still observes sparse human activity.
A Scientific Angle
Centuries later, in 1980’s, a team of archeologists from ASI, found striking similarities to the remains of Khabha village and Harappan cities such as Mohenjodaro, Dholavira and Lothal. The team evaluated the terrain by studying topographic maps, satellite images, seismotectonic map with data on faults, lineaments and earthquake epicentres of the region.
The team suggested that the Paliwal houses collapsed owing to poor construction techniques, and the minimal use of cementing material. Brick-like stone blocks were placed on top of each other to construct the walls, which is evident even now. Roofs were covered by placing logs and hence an earthquake, which was not very severe in intensity flattened 84 villages including Khabha and Kuldhara. The experts further said that the destruction of life and property caused by collapse was quite substantial and virtually total.
Till date, the Paliwal community does not celebrate the festival of ‘rakshabandhan’. It is instead observed as ‘black day’ as they believe the villagers were forced to flee and abandon their homes on this day.
How to Reach
Khabha is around 32 km from Jaisalmer and usually covered by travel operators enroute to Sam Sand Dunes. Otherwise one has to hire private vehicle from Jaisalmer as no public conveyance is available to Khabha.
Where to Stay